April 24, 2018

Do We Really Need More Collaring To Know Predators Kill?

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CollaredDeerWhile I understand interviews with media outlets and the perpetual screwing up of a story, sometimes readers must be left wondering all sorts of things. And yes, during those interviews, sometimes we are asked really stupid and/or questions that the answer is so obvious it doesn’t deserve an answer.

Depending on what region of the country you are from, would depend upon whether or not and how many and different species of large predators exist that are ripping into the whitetail deer populations. In a report filed in North American Whitetail, Kyle Rivana, Maine’s head deer biologist, says that Maine doesn’t have enough information to know whether coyotes are causing damage to the deer herd.

“We really don’t have a good handle on the relationship between predator and prey in Maine,” he notes. “And partly because of that, we’re getting ready to begin a survival study in which we’ll collar 40 whitetails. One of [the] things we’ll try to measure is cause-specific mortality. Are the coyotes really having the impact we think they’re having?”

Here’s a suggestion. Depending upon who you might talk with, coyotes have been filling up the forests of Maine since the 1950s, give or take a decade. I can remember back to the late 1960s and early 1970s listening to outdoor sportsmen complain about the negative impact of coyotes then. It’s been 40, 50, 60 years and Maine “don’t have a good handle on the relationship between predator and prey”?

It should be embarrassing the state has wiled away its time and resources, poorly managing the whitetail deer, and claiming they don’t have any idea if coyotes are having an impact, when much of everybody and everywhere else understands the problem.

So what’s the solution? Rivana says, “…we’re ready to begin a survival study…” Save your money. You don’t need to put collars on deer in hopes you might find out what’s killing them. Predators are killing the deer. Not all of them but predators kill deer. That’s why they are called predators. And besides, if Maine collars 40 deer and finds out that coyotes, or bears, or bobcats, or lynx or mountain lions or wolves, or Big Foot, or all of them combined, are killing off the deer herd, what is the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) going to do about it? NOTHING! Oh they might toss some money in the air and for a year or two pay $200-$300 a varmint to have them killed until such time as those making complaints are placated and forgotten. Then it’s back to business as usual.

Does the new deer biologist understand anything about the relationship of predators and deer in Maine? Here’s what he said:

“In some areas of the United States, bears can have more of an impact (on whitetails) than coyotes or wolves,” says Kyle Ravana, who heads up Maine’s deer management program. “In other areas, it could be coyotes or bobcats that are having the biggest impact. It kind of depends on where you are.

“When you’re in a state like Maine, that has a full suite of predators — coyotes and bears and bobcats and wolves — you can’t point your finger at any one predator. It could be all of them combined, including hunters.”

And notice that he had to, just had to, because that’s how he was indoctrinated in his educational institution, that it could be HUNTERS that are causing the reduction of deer in Maine. Really? So Rivana, and anyone else at MDIFW or across the country that wants to say that it is hunters that are destroying game herds, then what that REALLY means is that the fish and game departments of each state aren’t doing the job that their state mandated them to do. If Maine has a problem with too many deer being killed by hunters, that is the responsibility of deer managers to reduce that impact. So, let’s quit with the blaming the hunter BS. But I understand it’s impossible to lose that brainwashing, and it might be just as likely that some environmental groups are funding the collared deer study, which means….well, you figure it out.

I’m done buying vowels and so, I’d like to solve the puzzle: Predators exist in Maine and many, many other places. They have for many, many years and those predators are growing in numbers for a variety of reasons. Predators kill prey. Deer are prey. When there are more than one prey species for predators to kill, when they’ve depleted one, they will switch to another. Predators, like coyotes and wolves, keep growing in numbers partly because there is ample food – they just switch from one prey species to another. If nothing is done about controlling the predators, there’s a possibility that the predators, in combination with other things, such as severe winters, disease, etc., will reduce their prey base so low and keep it there, they will either move on, starve or resort to cannibalism. It isn’t the responsible way of managing wildlife.

Therefore, because it’s been 50, 60, 70 years that coyotes have been around in Maine and bears have always been here and now in historic high populations, bobcats as well and Canada lynx, my solution to the puzzle would be to implement predator control into the deer management program. It has to be part of any game plan – that is game that is a food source for large predators. What’s to get a handle on. DO SOMETHING!

But no. The answer is always one of two things; form a study group or put a collar on an animal. The results? NOTHING! (global warming) Another year goes by and then another and another and the only thing that has been taken care of is someone’s pension fund.

Save your damned money. You don’t need collars to find out if coyotes are having an impact on deer. All of Maine’s large predators are having an impact on deer. It’s what they do. It’s time to do something about it other than forming another study group and putting on collars.

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