October 20, 2019

Maine Should Prepare for a Wolf ESA Listing From U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

This is the opening paragraph from an article about the plans for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to remove gray wolves from protection under the Endangered Species Act nationwide, while at the same time list “subspecies” of wolves as endangered in regions, including the Northeast.

Portland OR – infoZine – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended removing federal protections from gray wolves that remain on the endangered species list after wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains and upper Midwest had their protections stripped last year. The move could be devastating to wolf recovery. Fish and Wildlife conceded it will still consider protection for subspecies or breeding populations (including Mexican gray wolves, a recognized subspecies) and for populations in the Pacific Northwest and Northeast; its recommendation came in a five-year review of the Endangered Species Act listing for gray wolves in the lower 48.

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Will Higher Prices for Coyote Fur Do For Deer What Wildlife Managers Won’t Do?

Maine and some other states have too many coyotes. As a result, in some of those states, like Maine, too many coyotes is contributing to a drastic reduction in whitetail deer populations. Too many predators combined with a couple of bad winters and wildlife management programs that protect large predators rather than control them, have all contributed to the problem.

I reported just the other day that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) had somehow dug up $50,000 to pay expenses to hire trained hunters and trappers to go to specified deer wintering areas and kill coyotes. However, so far, spending $9,500 has only seen the death of 52 coyotes, or about $180 apiece.

Last night I sent out an email to a small contingency of Maine hunter/trapper experts. From one of those people I got back the following response which was not directly related to the question I asked.

Tom,

If coyote prices stay where there at the trappers will have them harvested to there lowest numbers since coming to Maine. One trapper in Princeton got $92 a piece for two of his yotes and overall had over a $50 average. I predict we will see a big difference in two years on our deer herd.

I have to admit this caught me off guard. I am not a trapper but I do fully support the activity as I see trapping and hunting as both integral parts of wildlife management. I had no idea the price of coyote fur had risen so much. Usually the comments are that it was difficult to get people out to hunt and trap coyotes because the fur prices were worth nothing, rendering the effort a waste of time.

To help me out, another reader sent me links to information about fur prices. The Maine Trappers Association (MTA) has early season fur prices from different regions posted. And at the website, Trapping Today, there exist extensive reports on fur prices to include one report that lists auction prices for coyotes running between $63 and $69 dollars.

I had suggested in that earlier report that perhaps Maine could better spend what little money they had and just pay out the $50,000 in bounty fees of $100 per coyote on a first come, first served basis. Imagine if you will if coyote prices remained at or above $50 a pelt in conjunction with a $50 bounty? At those prices, I would have to agree with the one gentleman who predicted that there would be a big difference in Maine’s deer herd after a couple years.

If coyote fur prices were to remain at very high levels, this event all by itself would accomplish what no fish and game department is willing to do or has the ability to do.

Bring on high fur prices!

Tom Remington

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The $181.27 Dead Coyote

According to information given to Reuters News about a year ago, Maine officials at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), claimed there were around 20,000 coyotes living within the borders of that state. I don’t think there exists too many people, with the exception of coyote worshipers, who will argue that if MDIFW is willing to admit there are 20,000 coyotes in their state, there’s more accurately probably around 30,000 or more. However, for the sake of this article let’s say Maine has 20,000 coyote.

According to Gerry Lavigne, retired deer biologist with the MDIFW and current board member for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, he says that, “Eastern coyote populations will probably decline if their annual losses exceed 60%.” “Probably decline” means also that they might not. So let’s say a 50% annual mortality on Maine’s coyotes will maintain the current population at 20,000. That would mean that each year 10,000 coyotes need to be killed just to maintain current levels. Please bear in mind here that I am being generously conservative in my estimates of coyote population and total mortality rates.

The MDIFW has miraculously found $50,000 to appropriate for killing coyotes in targeted areas. According to information coming out of the MDIFW office, that targeting is being done in 9 specified Deer Wintering Areas (DWA).

Below is a chart showing where the nine DWA are, the number of coyotes killed in each DWA and costs associated with paying hunters/trappers to kill those varmints. To date, 52 coyotes have been killed at an expense of $9,426.00. That breaks down to $181.27 per dead coyote. If Maine left coyote control up to the MDIFW, taxpayers or license buyers would have to come up with $1,812,700 annually just to sustain a coyote population at current conservative levels.

Also, according to Gerry Lavigne, of those 10,000 coyotes that need culling to maintain current populations, perhaps 80% of those are taken by natural causes in combination with trapping and hunting; again conservative numbers being used here. With Maine’s limited trapping regulations, taking more coyotes is problematic and with the state applying for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for trapping and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) threatening to pile on more trapping restrictions, controlling coyotes doesn’t hold a very good future for deer but wonderful if you are a coyote. This will put more burden on the MDIFW to find ways of killing more coyotes.

Of the 10,000 coyotes needed killing each year, and trapping, hunting and natural causes take care of 8,000 of them, MDIFW is left with finding some way of killing another 2,000 varmints. At $181.27 per each flea, tick and disease carrier, that’s $362,540 annually to hire trappers and hunters to get the job done.

Is this the best way to take care of this problem? Couldn’t it be argued that putting up a $100 bounty per each coyote cheaper and more effective, providing the targeting of specific areas was handled properly? For a $100 bounty per coyote there’s bound to be a spike up in coyote hunting and trapping license sales.

If you factor in the need to reduce coyote populations, say cut the current numbers in half, the expense becomes overwhelming. But I ask again, isn’t it in the best interest, if that amount of money is going to have to be spent to address this problem, that it be put into the hands of all trappers who have bought licenses and supported the wildlife and trapping in the state for years?

Either there’s a coyote problem in Maine that needs addressing or there’s not. Puttering at the problem accomplishes nothing. $50,000 could probably be used on better program management. Why go about this effort seemingly in order to fail? It’s time to go or get off the pot.

Tom Remington

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N.H. Boy Attacked By Coyote. Officials Conclude Rabies Pass On Poor Information to Public

*Editor’s Note* Below is a copy of a press release sent out by the New Hampshire Department of Fish and Game about a boy that got attacked by a coyote. The department, for no other reason than because they think that only a sick coyote would attack a human, is warning everyone that the coyote is rabid.

As long as fish and wildlife officials insist on burying their heads in the sand and refusing to understand wild canine behavior, beyond the ancient talking points, they are irresponsibly putting people at further risk.

Teen Attacked by Coyote in Hopkinton, N.H.

CONCORD, N.H. – Fish and Game Department personnel are alerting residents of Hopkinton, N.H., to the likely presence of a rabid coyote, following an attack on a local teenager yesterday (February 22, 2012).

The young man was walking the family dog in a wooded area near his home when the coyote approached him. The dog ran away, at which point the coyote attacked the teenager. The teen defended himself, reportedly punching the coyote in the nose until the coyote left the scene. During the interaction, the teenager was scratched and possibly bitten by the coyote. The teen sought medical treatment, and is receiving a course of rabies shots as a precaution.

Though there are occasional reports of rabid wild animals attacking humans in New Hampshire, Pat Tate, wildlife biologist with Fish and Game, said that the coyote attack was highly unusual. “It’s the first time we know of that a coyote has attacked a person in New Hampshire,” he said. Tate noted that earlier in the week, a local dog was also attacked by a coyote, and required veterinary care. “We suspect that it’s the same coyote, and that the coyote is rabid, given the uncharacteristic aggressiveness of the attacks. For local residents, that means they should be aware of the presence of coyotes, and they should know the signs of a rabid animal.” He added, “This incident, scary as it was, gives us no reason to fear wild animals in general.”

Tate points out that it’s not that unusual to see a coyote at any time of day or night. “The species is spread out around the state. Seeing a coyote in woodland landscape, one that’s acting normal, is fine,” he said. Normal behavior, for a coyote, is expressing no interest in humans or pets. “If a coyote displays any interest in a human – whether friendly or aggressive – that’s unusual, and that’s when you need to be on alert.”

Martin Garabedian, chief of Law Enforcement for N.H. Fish and Game, says that Conservation Officers and Hopkinton Police Department personnel are in the area, looking for signs of the rabid coyote. “In the interest of public safety, when the officers find the animal in question, they will dispatch it and send it for rabies testing,” he said.

If someone sees a coyote, Tate recommends yelling at it to instill fear. Healthy coyotes will retreat when faced with loud noises or thrown objects. “Obviously, you never want to approach a wild animal. But if you are in a situation where you are outdoors near a coyote, shout at it, make sure it knows you’re a threat,” Tate advises. “If it comes at you, hit it hard on the head and snout.”

If Hopkinton residents see a coyote behaving aggressively, they are asked to notify Fish and Game Law Enforcement dispatch at (603) 271-3361.

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From the Journals of Lewis and Clark: The Struggle for Food

As I continue my reread of the adventures of Lewis and Clark, often times the reading is dry with weather reports and what they saw on the right and saw on the left and how many miles they covered. At times however, both Lewis and Clark write in relative depth about certain issues and observations.

Included in the expedition that was sanctioned by President Jefferson and headed by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark were what was then considered “professional hunters”. I have no idea what qualifications these men possessed that earned them the distinction of professional hunters, but nonetheless throughout the entire journey they were on a daily basis dispatched by Lewis and Clark to hunt and gather food. Sometimes this involved having the hunters go ahead of the expedition and cache food along the riverbanks and/or trails for the troops.

Finding food was not always an easy chore. As a matter of fact, the expedition was forced many times to kill and eat horses they had bought from the Indians. Through many days travel from the Continental Divide and down through the Columbia River, Lewis and Clarke bought dogs from the Indians to feed their troops. During their first winter camping alongside the Missouri River, the expedition may have starved to death had it not been for the modest supplies of dried foods the natives had that Lewis and Clark were able to trade for.

In my reading at present, Lewis and Clark are camped for the winter near the mouth of the Columbia River where it flows into the Pacific Ocean. It rains and storms nearly everyday. Conditions are miserable, to say the least. Troops work everyday in the lousy weather building shelters, smoke house, supply storage and fort walls. Because of the conditions and hard work, the troops are suffering injuries and illness. Generally speaking conditions are not great and to add to it, the availability of fresh meat is just not reliable.

Several Indian tribes take up their winter residence in the same area. These natives eat a different diet than do the white men involved in the expedition. The natives mostly subsist on fish, roots and berries, Lewis and Clark are forced to buy a lot of this food from the Indians because there is not a lot of easily found meat, i.e. elk, deer, etc. nearby. They also struggle in keeping their meat from spoiling even though at this point they have constructed a smoke house used to cure meat.

Needless to say, the adventurers have learned to eat many different things along their journey, including spoiled meat as well as fresh meat from just about every wild critter they could kill.

During the time that Lewis and Clark spent on the coast of what is now Washington and Oregon, both Lewis and Clark wrote in their journals comments about eating certain meats that today in our society would be unheard of.

Written January 3, 1806 by Clark in the Journals of Lewis and Clark:

“Our party from necessity have been obliged to subsist some length of time on dogs, have now become extremely fond of their flesh; it is worthy of remark that while we lived principally on the flesh of this animal we were much more healthy, strong and more fleshy than we have been since we left the buffalo country. As for my own part, I have not become reconciled to the taste of this animal as yet.”

At the time this was written, I’m half guessing that perhaps William Clark was waxing a little nostalgic, hungry and missing those moments when fresh elk and deer meat were readily available for sustenance. The expedition’s hunters were able to locate and kill some elk, at times great distances from the newly built fort, there was never enough of this meat to feed the troops on a regular basis. Because of the great distances away where the elk were shot and killed, by the time the hunters, with help from the troops, retrieved the meat and brought it to the fort, it was spoiled or beginning to spoil. Smoking the meat didn’t take away the spoil.

At this time, both Lewis and Clark had expressed dissatisfaction with being forced to eat the dried fish the natives had and that which the expedition had to purchase or barter to get because of the lack of fresh meat. Also it was noted a few times that Lewis and Clark could not sustain trading away all of their supplies in order to subsist.

In short, I’m not sure that Lewis and Clark fully anticipated having the struggles they did to eat well on a consistent basis.

It was only two days later that we find where Capt. Lewis makes comment about what he eats. To set the stage for these comments, Meriwether Lewis had ordered some of his men to take canoes and travel to the beaches of the ocean and find a likely place in which they could set up and make salt. This place ended up being several miles from the fort.

After about 6 days had passed since the salt making party were to have returned to the fort, Clark and others went looking for them. In the meantime, the salt party returned to the fort temporarily and brought with them about a quart or so of fine quality salt they had been successful in making.

In the context of the below comments by Capt. Lewis, he is writing about how some of the men were excited to have salt to dress up, if you will, their meat and meals. Lewis makes note that he really could care little about whether he had salt and makes the following comments.

Capt Lewis, January 5, 1806, from the Journals of Lewis and Clark:

“The want of bread I consider as trivial provided I get fat meat, far as to the species of meat I am not very particular. The flesh of the dog, the horse and the wolf, having from habit become equally familiar with any other, and I have learned to think that if the chord be sufficiently strong, which binds the soul and body together, it does not so much matter about the materials which compose it.”

Part of the motivation to write this piece comes from comments that have been made by some animal rights groups about the recently released movie, The Grey. The movie is about people that survive a plane crash in the snow climes of the north country, smack dab in the middle of packs of wolves.

I’ve not seen the movie but evidently at some point for survival, some of the wolves that have been killed as the result of attacks by the wolves on the survivors, are eaten by the people. The comments from animal rights groups and other ignoramuses, are that nobody can eat a dog and there is nothing nutritious in them.

This of course is quite the contrary. Not only in our own history books, as I have shown above, and world history has the eating of dogs been a regular occurrence, in some societies today, the habit still happens.

Tom Remington

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Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Lays Out Demands to USFWS on Canada Lynx

Perhaps the tone of the comments made by the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) is just as important as the information contained in them. It is refreshing to read from any hunting, fishing, trapping and outdoor organization with an attitude that exudes the confidence needed to place the demands of the outdoor sportsmen above those of the environmentalists. SAM lays out five issues that they see as what needs to be done in order to move forward as it pertains to the application process for an Incidental Take Permit for trapping in Maine.

The comment period has closed in which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), by law, accepted comments from all interested parties concerning the State of Maine’s application for an Incidental Take Permit(ITP) for trapping. The Canada lynx is listed under federal law as a “threatened” species and certain critical habitat has been designated as needing further protections in order to assist in the growth of the lynx population. As a result of this process Maine should apply for and obtain this ITP to protect the state and trappers should some lynx be accidentally caught in traps intended for other species.

Here’s a look at SAM’s five demands and my comments on them.

1.) SAM asks that the ITP be approved as quickly as possible without delay and without any further restrictions added to the already harsh rules that govern trapping (by a court Consent Decree). All the data available indicate that the rules and programs in place are more than adequate to not only protect the lynx but to assist in a continuation of growing the population.

2.) The USFWS is requiring MDIFW to set aside certain public lands to be used as “lynx conservation areas”. SAM demands that if this is done the land remain open to, “all legal trapping, hunting, snowmobiling, and other traditional activities”. While I agree that all public land should remain open for all public use, I have serious concerns about portions of this “conservation plan” that calls for large areas of forests on these public lands to be “clear cut” in order to grow desirable lynx habitat. We would hope that no public lands be clear cut only for the purpose of creating habitat for one species with disregard for all others and the overall use of the land by the people.

3.) SAM demands that the USFWS set recovery goals. In other words, provide the people with the scientific criteria in terms of population numbers, etc. that must be reached and for how long, before delisting can occur.

For those who don’t know, the Endangered Species Act (ESA) lists, although extremely non specific, any condition that must be in existence BEFORE a species can be listed on the ESA. Please review the ESA for those criteria. The ESA also clearly states that the same criteria must NOT exist in order to remove a species for federal protection.

Because the criteria in the ESA is so non specific and much flexibility and deference is given to the Secretary of Interior, what SAM is demanding is reasonable and well within the scope and historic activities of the USFWS.

However, that same history shows us that setting population goals, genetic connectivity, etc. acts more as a catalyst for inflaming arguments over species management theories than providing reachable goals for delisting. In some areas, such as those battling over gray wolves, those goals keep changing making it impossible to ever delist a species.

4.) SAM demands that the USFWS, “modify its distinct population segment”. This is where the waters get really muddy; where science takes a back seat and politics take over and decisions that should be based on science get decided in the Courts.

Historic evidence shows us that animal rights groups and environmentalists have learned to use the very non specific Endangered Species Act to create great wealth. One aspect of abuse of the ESA comes over the debate about Distinct Population Segments (DPS). I would attempt to explain to readers what a DPS is supposed to be but the court rulings nationwide are so varied I’m not sure anyone knows any longer what the laws are regulating the use of DPSs.

The intent of a DPS was to designate a certain species of animal within a region that subsequently became federally listed through the ESA as a “threatened” or an “endangered” species. Of course in designating such a DPS, boundaries have to be used somewhere and decided upon somehow. However, the designation and use of such boundaries has led to some ridiculous court rulings making little sense, based on arbitrary decisions and mostly from activist-type judges.

In the Great Lakes region a few years ago, when the USFWS attempted to remove grey wolves from the ESA, a lawsuit ensued and Judge Paul Friedman, in his ruling, stated that the USFWS did not have the authority to create a Distinct Population Segment in order to delist a species. No explanation has ever been given as to why, then, it is acceptable to create a DPS to list a species but not to delist.

Judge Friedman remanded the case back the USFWS until such time as they could provide proof to the courts that they had the authority to create DPSs. Last year, the USFWS tried once again to delist grey wolves in the Western Great Lakes. The Final Rule in the Federal Register, goes into quite a bit of depth in explaining existing laws and past court rulings in an attempt to bolster their argument that they have all the necessary authority the judge deemed they didn’t.

Currently grey wolves in the Western Great Lakes Distinct Population Segment have been removed from federal protection under the ESA. Environmental groups are threatening lawsuits and until such time as that happens we may not know whether the USFWS has sufficiently satisfied the Court.

While I concur with the SAM on this to some degree, that a better job needs to be done, especially when the initial creation of a DPS is considered, making the demand to “modify its distinct population segment” for Maine’s population of lynx is a very complicated act. Which leads us into SAM’s fifth demand.

5.) SAM insists that, “individual states within each of the newly-created DPS’s need to be separable when lynx populations reach recovery goals in one or more states, but not in the others.”

Again, this is a very complex issue because of the involvement of the courts. When a species is brought under federal protection, it is the U.S. Government, i.e. the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, that overseas and calls all the shots as they pertain to species protection and recovery. That management authority is taken away from the states and if and when the day comes that a species is declared recovered, wildlife management authority returns to the states. And yet, when it comes time to delist a species, even if one state has worked harder than another to recover a species, delisting cannot occur along state boundaries because of court rulings.

Example: The USFWS has designated large portions of Maine and smaller areas in New Hampshire, Vermont and New York as areas where the Canada lynx has known populations. Essentially, the USFWS includes Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York as a Distinct Population Segment for Canada lynx.

SAM is asking the USFWS to be prepared to delist Maine’s population of lynx when it has recovered even if New Hampshire, Vermont and New York have not recovered their populations.

Court rulings have further confused this issue. As I stated earlier, Judge Friedman claims the USFWS does not have that authority under the ESA. In Maine’s case, according to Friedman’s ruling, the USFWS could not create a DPS along the boundary lines of the states for the purpose of declaring the Canada lynx a recovered species.

Out in the Northern Rockies, when the USFWS attempted to delist grey wolves, Judge Donald Molloy ruled that the USFWS could not exclude Wyoming from the delisting process because the Feds didn’t have authority through the ESA to do that. In other words, the Northern Rocky Mountains Distinct Population Segment included all of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming and small portions of Washington, Oregon and Utah. Cutting Wyoming out of the process was not something Judge Molloy was willing to do. For him, it was all in or all out while the issue of scientific recovery, within the borders of a state, of a species was never considered.

Even though it literally took an act of Congress to delist wolves in all of the NRM DPS except Wyoming, the laws are still very unclear about what the feds can do.

SAM says that the feds need to do a better job with their DPS designation processes and I would certainly concur with that statement. However, the first thing needed is a clear and definite set of rules and guidelines that should be utilized before any DPS is created and the specific guidelines for delisting, even if it included breaking off segments within a DPS. Science should be the driving force not politics or private agendas.

There is one thing that I can guarantee. Maine’s attempt at acquiring an Incidental Take Permit will not be simple. Depending upon the content of that ITP, will depend on the number of lawsuits that will be filed in an attempt to stop all trapping to protect the lynx. It is almost as certain that we will never see the Canada lynx removed from the ESA because the ESA, politics and the entire process that got the species listed is not designed to remove a species from federal protection. This is partially what is wrong with the ESA that needs fixing.

And, good luck with that.

Tom Remington

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Government Sponsored Coyote Control vs. Private Sponsored Coyote Control

Recently I have received two separate reports from two different individuals/groups about coyote control in Maine. Even though state officials still cringe at the thoughts of actually doing something about killing coyotes to save deer, some effort to control those coyotes around deer wintering areas is seeing some success.

I received one report, which I cannot say is an “official” report from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), that says that the government has budgeted $50,000 for predator control. At the time the email was sent, expenditures from the $50,000 totaled $8,500. This expense resulted in the taking of 50 coyotes by paid hunters and 35 by volunteers (I assume meaning they helped out but didn’t get paid).

The coyote control program is targeting 9 deer wintering areas – Some in Northern Maine, one in Northwestern Maine and a couple downeast.

A quick working of some simple math tells us that, including the coyotes killed by “volunteers”, the cost is $100.00 per coyote kill.

We can compare this to a brief report I received from the Aroostook County Conservation Association that just completed a coyote killing contest. Private donations amounted to $3,280 for the contest. 149 coyotes were brought in and registered. Simple math tells us the cost per coyote was $22.00.

Not intending to mislead, let me say that the MDIFW’s program targets deer wintering yards, while the contest involves killing coyotes anywhere at anything…..legally.

I have also read another report that says that up until this point conditions on the ground and the timing of the winter season may not be prime for taking coyotes around deer wintering areas. One might expect the deer mortality by coyotes on deer would begin increasing as the winter wears on, the coyotes get hungrier and the deer weaker from the stresses of the cold and snow.

I’ll attempt to get data on this program and keep readers updated.

Tom Remington

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Michigan Report Shows Coyotes Biggest Killing of Deer

Preliminary reports from a three-year study in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan show that of all the large predators, wolves, coyotes, bobcat and bears, the coyote does the most damage to the deer herd.

According to the report, the coyotes feasted on both adult males and females but did its most damage killing fawns. After the coyote, the bobcat scored in second place, followed by the bear and wolf.

The full report is due to be released in the near future.

Drawing specific conclusions about this bit of information is fruitless, however, if nothing else it once again drives home the point, so often denied by wildlife managers, that coyotes should be taken as a serious concern for the killing of large prey such as whitetail deer. Preliminary data suggest that coyotes killed more fawn deer than adults but the point to be made here is that they do kill adult deer and on a regular basis. This is an event often denied by wildlife managers and environmentalists.

I will be anxious to get my hands on a copy of this report.

Tom Remington

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Montana Wolf Hunt Season Closes – Fails to Meet Kill Quota

In my selfish gloating I am proud to state: “I told you so!“. Over three years ago I predicted that with the wolf hunt plans being discussed for Montana and Idaho, the fish and game departments would fail miserably in any quest to control wolf populations.

We find out today that as Montana closes this year’s wolf hunting season, they failed to reach the quota of killing 220 wolves. What they recorded was 162 wolves tagged, even after extending the season. This equates to a success rate of less than 1% according to KFBB.com.

And of course the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) have all the excuses why the quota wasn’t met.

Officials say the hunt has been slow for a variety of reasons. Wolves naturally try to avoid humans and they are so widespread across the region. With the lack of snow, they can be harder to track.

While these excuses hold some truth, hunters are restricted in tools necessary to kill wolves, and they’ll never accomplish the task of “control” this way. Readers should be reminded that last spring, Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) put helicopters in the sky to kill wolves in the Lolo Region. Lack of snow made spotting wolves difficult and officials only killed 5 wolves.

C. Gordon Hewitt in, “The Conservation of the Wild Life of Canada“, over one hundred years ago told us what was the most effectual way to kill coyotes and wolves.

The most successful method of destroying coyotes, wolves and other predatory animals is by the organization of systematic hunting by paid hunters, receiving no bounties and working under government control. This policy is giving excellent results in the United States, as will be shown presently.

The problem is by no means a local one, nor even a provincial one; it is both interprovincial and international in character, and it is only by organization along these lines that ultimate success will be obtained. What we need is co-operation among all concerned: individuals, live-stock organizations, and governments; all of them should contribute to the funds that are needed to carry out the work after a broad policy has been formulated.

Will Graves, author of “Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages“, gave his readers a laundry list of all the methods, tactics and tools the Russian Government used in an attempt to control wolf populations.

1. Drive Hunting with Flags – Large squares of cloth tied a couple feet apart and strung by rope was used to force wolves to specified areas where hunters waited in ambush.
2. Drive Hunting Without Flags
3. Hunting Over Bait
4. Call Hunting – Use of man made calls that imitate sounds that will lure wolves.
5. Scouting for and Finding Dens – This is a method used by natives in Alaska and other parts of the world. Wolves often return to the same denning areas each year. Hunters would locate these dens, remove the cubs and kill them.
6. Hunting With Russian Wolfhounds
7. Hunting on Skis
8. Hunting From Horseback
9. Trapping
10. Using Poison
11. Hunting with Eagles and Falcons
12. Hunting From Light Aircraft
13. Hunting From Helicopters
14. Hunting From Snowmobiles and Vehicles

While employment of all these methods yielded good results, Graves points out to readers that without a sustained wolf control effort, problems would persist.

Dealing with wolves worldwide over the years has always been a struggle. In my series “To Catch a Wolf“, there are numerous accounts of the ways in which people crafted tools and tactics to kill wolves.

So, what is it that wildlife officials expect? They themselves, with the assistance of helicopters can’t kill enough wolves to make it worth the effort. We have read often of efforts by game biologists trying to trap and collar/tag wolves and can’t get the job done. Yet even with that knowledge and their choice not to seek historical facts on the difficulties in controlling wolves, they somehow think a hunter, willing to contribute a few dollars, is going to take his gun and be successful in killing him a wolf? I remind readers of the less than 1% success rate.

As long as states insist that wolves and coyotes will be “big game” animals, hunted for sport by one man and one gun, citizens can expect no changes in the reduction of wolf/human encounters or any increases of game animals in areas where wolves have destroyed them.

One has to question the real goals behind wolf hunting. It certainly doesn’t appear to be population reduction to protect private property and salvage other game animals, such as deer, elk and moose.

Perhaps officials are waiting for Nature to balance itself out! Yeah, that must be what it is. Now, how does that work?

Tom Remington

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Managing Wildlife In “An Environmentally Responsible Way”

For every one of the thousands of “environmentally responsible” bits of propaganda that get printed to thousands of media sources nationwide, at least 10 rebuttals with factual information need to be made in hopes of stemming the tide of inaccurate and regurgitated bad information about wildlife management, and moving those discussions forward with scientifically substantiated facts. It is a relentless battle, but alas, the war rages on.

A rightfully placed “opinion piece” in the Bangor Daily News, from Heather Bolint“Heather Bolint of Damariscotta is a 2009 graduate of Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fl., where she earned a BA in environmental studies” – is a rerun of the same old unproven theories that have for years been bandied around by environmentalists and animal activists as fact. While attempting to cherry pick a few theories dressed up like “studies” to substantiate her own agitprop, Ms. Bolint tells readers there exists no other studies but hers and all other information is inaccurate. Or, perhaps she just didn’t go look.

One of the greatest threats today to our wildlife management programs in this country comes from environmentalist, much like the author of this piece. Environmentalists tend to perpetuate theories and ideologies, such as “balance of nature”, “self-regulation”, bolstered by the absurd delusion that man is not part of the equation. This perspective is one from an environmentalist and certainly not one from real wildlife science and as such, the agenda-driven environmentalists use phraseology for wildlife management as, “An Environmentally Responsible Way”.

Actual wildlife biology took a back seat in recent years to demands from social activists, i.e. animal rights; placing animals at or above a plane with humans; a want to “view” wildlife; skewed moral and ethics issues, etc. This is not actual responsibility to care for the wild animals but is, in fact, a labeled “environmentally responsible way”. The author references her misconception by stating, “Maine’s coyote control is needless and unregulated and merely serves the purpose of providing financial stability to the IF&W rather than an environmentally responsible way to manage wildlife.”

Isn’t it a bit on an oxymoron to link together “environment” and “responsible”?

It is first important to point out to readers that Maine essentially does NOT have a coyote control program. Through extensive research recently, I learned that in 2004 the Maine Legislature repealed any remains of the Coyote Control Program. The only coyote “control” that exists amounts to ample hunting opportunities, limited trapping opportunities and a sparse, at best, animal damage control program of targeting winter deer yards to kill coyotes that are extirpating our deer herd.

The author chooses to utilize information written on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) website and present it as fact, when in fact most of the information she references pertains to Maine’s Coyote Control Program which has been repealed. She grabs this quote:

By continuing the coyote control program, the public may perceive the Department [of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife] implicitly believes the control program has a strong biological basis, when in fact, the biological benefits of coyote control are unknown.”

And this:

“It is not known whether the current snaring program, or other forms of coyote control, has any effect on increasing local or regional deer numbers.”

As well as this one:

“The possibility exists that the removal of territorial coyotes may allow nonterritorial coyotes into an area, and exacerbate the deer predation problem.”

It is no secret that the MDIFW has an aversion for predator control. After all, predator control is one of those nasty things that are learned in indoctrination camps these days. Our biologists are taught unproven theories; that predators like coyotes and wolves are “healthy for our ecosystems” and that nature “self regulates”. This is all junk science and intellectual rubbish.

Environmentalists created the use of “ecosystem” to term our forests and fields; “eco”, of course relating to the environment and “system” as it might refer to orderliness, or organization of working parts that yield a desired result. The only thing that might resemble a “system” in wildlife management comes from man’s effort to work to keep it at some sort of socially acceptable “balance”, i.e. not allowing one species to dominate and kill off another, etc. This is why we developed wildlife management and devised the Northern America Model for wildlife Conservation. It has been all part of the environmentalists’ plan to use social tolerance in wildlife management programs while giving biological science a back seat.

To those people who perpetuate the myth of nature balancing itself, I merely demand that they prove it. They can’t.

But back to the opinion piece, using worn out, and unproven theories about coyotes and predators as a whole from the MDIFW website of outdated information in order to bolster claims that it is “environmentally irresponsible” to control coyotes doesn’t make the grade.

For decades environmentalists and animal rights organization, who know nothing of predator/prey relationships or wildlife management in general, and pay their “scientists” well to give them the theories they wish to perpetuate, have regurgitated the theories about alpha males and females and reactive population growth from implementation of predator control. These have NEVER been proven and contrary to what Heather Bolint says, there does exist studies and data to indicate otherwise.

Dr. L. David Mech, around 1970 published in a book he wrote about how important it was to preserve the “alpha male” in a pack and the disruption it would cause by removing that alpha male. In other words, he was the author, the founder, the creator of the alpha male myth. But on Dr. Mech’s own website, he tells people that he has since that time learned that this simply is not true. He writes:

One of the outdated pieces of information is the concept of the alpha wolf. “Alpha” implies competing with others and becoming top dog by winning a contest or battle. However, most wolves who lead packs achieved their position simply by mating and producing pups, which then became their pack. In other words they are merely breeders, or parents, and that’s all we call them today, the “breeding male,” “breeding female,” or “male parent,” “female parent,” or the “adult male” or “adult female.”

However, the discovery of this information is not allowed to stand in the way of the agendas of environmentalist whose goals include the ending of hunting, fishing and trapping. The argument has always been that in random killing of coyotes, if the alpha male and/or alpha female are killed, the pack will be sent into disarray resulting in increased predation of livestock and family pets, etc. We know this now to be false.

What else are we finding is false?

For the MDIFW biologists to include on their website a statement about how removing “territorial” coyotes in one area might allow for “nonterritorial” coyotes to move in, is actually a reflection of their own lack of more modern understanding of predator and prey relationships and the behaviors of predators such as coyotes. Coyotes essentially have two functions. Kill and eat and reproduce. If targeted coyotes in one territory are removed and hungry dispersing coyotes are looking for a place to go, they might go there or they might not. They are opportunistic animals. If they do fill that void as might be believed, an ongoing coyote control program would solve that problem too. This is not complicated.

When anyone carries with them the unproven theory that if you kill a certain number of coyotes, they will produce more to replace those, will, more than likely, also possess the misinformation that targeting coyotes only allows more to take their place. To state this information as fact, as I have said earlier, is intellectual rubbish and dishonesty.

The entire opinion piece is a fabrication of unproven theories, exceptionally poor information and in some cases, actual myths. Readers should beware that this creation of anti-hunting decretum belongs in the opinion section.

The author reveals her anti-hunting agenda when she says:

Coyote control in Maine is facilitated through shooting, trapping, baiting and running down coyotes with dogs. These can be inhumane methods and are not regulated…..

Humaneness belongs to the eyes of the beholder. While Bolint tries to convince readers that shooting, trapping, baiting and hunting coyotes with dogs, is inhumane treatment, she falls flat on her face failing to discuss the realities of uncontrolled and unmanaged wildlife as a comparison. Of course, anyone who has an aversion or detestation to hunting and trapping of wild animals, would think it inhumane. The “natural” means of death to these animals can be about as inhumane, by human standards, as it can get. What is humane about protecting predators like coyotes to the point they become disease ridden? Coyotes can be carriers of up to thirty known diseases, parasites, etc. Common diseases are mange, parvovirus, distemper and rabies. What is humane about watching a coyote wither away and die from these diseases? Early in grade-school science we learned that too many animals in too small a space, breeds and spreads disease.

We control rats and other disease-spreading, undesirable creatures but somehow, while one may turn a blind eye to mice and rats being killed in a trap, quickly dispatching a coyote through hunting and trapping is somehow considered inhumane? I question if the author has any knowledge at all about hunting and trapping.

What is humane about having so many coyotes in some locations that they are extirpating deer herds? What’s humane about the realization of how hungry coyotes, being forced to kill more deer to survive, go about ripping a fetus from a female deer they are carrying in the middle of a deer wintering yard? What is humane about having a coyote eat a deer alive?

What is humane about so many coyotes eating the same prey that is food for other wildlife causing starvation and serious reduction of those species. An example might well by the Canada lynx. Its main prey for sustenance is the hare. If too many coyotes eat up all the hare, what chance does the lynx have? Is that humane? Is this even rational thinking?

The author of this piece is ignorant of the nonexistent coyote control program. She’s uneducated in the facts of coyote behavior as well as predator/prey relationships and provides readers with nothing more than blather, dressed up with a new skirt and bright lipstick and presented as factual information.

Ms. Bolint is an educated environmentalist. She has no idea that the MDIFW and many of the scientists there are her allies. Many there perpetuate the same environmental junk science and share the same theories and myths.

If people actually would like to see well-controlled and healthy populations of many and diverse species, the first thing that is needed is to get rid of environmentalism. It is not a science. It’s a religion given too much power and recognition and it is destroying our forest and fields by doing everything they can to get man out of the woods resulting in widespread predator pits absent of any kind of diverse and healthy wildlife populations.

Tom Remington

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