October 20, 2019

Are There Now Rabid Wolves in Idaho?

*Scroll Down for Updates*

Nearly six years ago, we learned that two-thirds of all wild wolf carcasses examined in Idaho were infected with tapeworms of the echinococcus granulosus variety that, if contracted by humans can cause hydatid cysts on major body organs, such as lungs, liver, brain, etc. There also exists now human cases of hydatid disease in Idaho; extremely difficult to diagnose, more difficult to treat, surgery being the only option, and potentially deadly.

Now, it appears the possibility exists that wolves are being found in Idaho that have rabies.

During the drafting of the Environmental Impact Statement of 1994, before the reintroduction of wolves into the Greater Yellowstone area, some scientists shared their concerns over the impact of disease that wolves are known to carry; many of which are harmful to humans and livestock, and in some cases, potentially deadly. Echinococcus granulosis and rabies, only two of the approximate 30 diseases these canines carry. Those concerns were essentially ignored.

Now, citizens of Idaho, appear to have another canine disease to concern themselves with. Indications are that some wolves in portions of Idaho may have rabies.

I was included in an email exchange over the weekend of one person’s account of unusual wolf behavior and the role being played out by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Below is a copy of the email. I have decided to omit certain personal information about the author of the email, not because they requested it but because I believe it is a responsible thing to do considering the sick and mentally twisted freaks who dot our landscape. Enough said.

Will Graves, author of “Wolves in Russia: Anxiety Through the Ages” and the person to whom the email below was first sent to, sought permission from “Jennifer” to share the letter and information below. Graves made the following comment:

“In my opinion it is very strange under the circumstances you explained in this email that the Idaho FWP has not released the lab results on these two wolves. The public must be informed on what these two wolves died from. In my opinion it is grossly irresponsible not to release these pertinent lab reports to the general public.

It takes from one to three days to determine if an animal with rabid like symptoms was infected with rabies or not. There could possibly be some extenuating circumstances. Of course, if the animal were shot in the head to kill it, then rabies could probably not be confirmed.”

Graves was able to later confirm that the wolf had not been shot in the head.

“The wolf died on its own, no one shot it in the head ( it took 3 days for it to die ). The man told me they called Idaho F& G approximately 2 hours after the wolf died. He would not tell me the address of the house where it happened.He was really afraid.”

Here is the email letter.

~~~~~

We were awoken at 3:35 am on Saturday the 11th Feb. 2012, with wolves harassing our Akbash / Pyrenees cross guard dogs. We could hear one of the wolves growing from our bedroom window, it was on the other side of the fence along the road that goes by our home and barn. The two guard dogs were up against the front door of the house completely frightened and trying to hide. Kevin my husband went out and was growled at in the dark by one of the wolves from behind him on the road. He was trying to see them with a million watt hand held light. But they were ducked down in a snow filled ditch with water flowing from *** Creek across the road. They ran off.

In the morning at first light I went out to see were the tracks went and to try to figure out how many wolves there were as its very difficult to see tracks in the dark. The tracks were clear to see and the size of my hand 6″ X 3″ stride length of about 60″. They exited on the main road east towards Hailey.

A truck pulled into a turnout above our home. I was tracking in on the movement of the two wolves by our field and fence line. The man had his window down and asked if I had seen any wolves, I told him we had them at our place last night harassing the two guard dogs that were out in the fenced yard. We talked for about 30 minutes about wolves in the area. After that he mentioned to me that his friend that lives in Starweather subdivision had a really skinny wolf show up next to his drive way convoluting and drooling. He said his friend was hoping it would go away as he did not want the controversy from certain wolf defenders and people in town. He said It took three days for the wolf to die . The last night he thought it would perish because it was extremely cold, but when he went out in the morning it was still in convolutions but lying down and foaming on the muzzle and drooling from its mouth. A short time later he said it died. They decided to call Fish and Game. Local Lee Garwood of Fish and Game with another officer arrived and took the dead wolf carcus away. The man told me that they were told NOT to tell anyone and that they had picked up another wolf from the Fairfield pack in Fairfield that had the same symptoms months ago. The man told me they had been frightened to tell anyone and the following week his friend called Lee Garwood the Fish and Game Officer and asked him what the wolf died of. Lee Garwood told him they did not know and it would take weeks before they knew anything on why it died. The two men thought it was strange. When the man told me all of this he was really scared and did not want me to tell anyone about it. He drove away.

I went back to our house and called Will Graves immediately because I thought it could be rabies. Two years ago I sent Will graves and Steve Alder, Wildlife For Idaho the news paper articles on the fly fisher man that had a rabid bat stuck on his fishing vest on the Wood River in Green horn Gulch area.. Three other people had to have a rabies shot series because of rabid bats in that area too. There is a bad bat colony somewhere in that vicinity. Then I called Lee Garwood next and he told me that he did not want me scaring people right now and he had two wolf hunters out working on it, killing the wolves in Green horn and not to be worried or alarmed. I told Lee we had an very aggressive wolf growling by our fence early that morning. We thought it was unusual behavior. Then I called Steve Alder to report it and get his expert help as I was really concerned that it could be rabies not distemper or parvo. Distemper did not fit the convolutions and the length of time it took to die. Will Graves talked it over with Val Giest in Canada and both thought it sounded like stage three rabies. The last wolf that growled and charged me and my dog in my yard had an imbedded leather tracking collar with a dead battery. The collar was rotting in its neck and it was desperately trying to eat and it was starving. So we thought something must be really wrong with the growling wolf at the fence. Lee Garwood told me he would come by in person at 12:00 the next day to talk to us in person. He did come on Saturday and Lee informed my husband Kevin that it was a 60 pound very skinny looking and light in weight female wolf. He personally seemed very surprised that Fish and Game had not released the discovery on what killed the female wolf or the other one in Fairfield yet. He told Kevin my husband to not scare people and keep it quite as they did not need mass hysteria going around town. He said maybe an Elk kicked it in the head or it had a bone splinter in its guts.

Steve we are sending this to you in hopes that maybe you can get the Governor to get the report released from Fish and Game ASAP on what killed the wolf in Starweather subdivision Hailey, ID and what killed the wolf in Fairfield, ID months ago that they took away to be examined. Being extremely concerned and knowing information in other states on rabies it usually only takes 24 hours to find out if an animal is rabid, why are they waiting this long to release a report? And why is the Fish and Game officer having two hunters try and kill wolves in Greenhorn Gulch area. If it is rabies we have to inform the public now!! And take action. I thought that’s why we have Idaho Fish and Game to manage the wildlife, keeping hazardous heath information from the citizens of the United States Of America is not their job. I hope the wolves that died got kicked in the head by the elk, or bone fragments in the guts and that’s all. But the more time that goes by, the more guilty and withholding this appears. What say you!

Jennifer ********

*Update: February 14, 2012 – 8:30 a.m.*

Through inquiry by the Idaho for Wildlife, a response was received from Jerome Hansen, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, concerning testing results and/or information about the two wolves referred to above. I’ll paste the entire comment from Hansen:

“Hi Steve,

Thanks for the email. I have received feedback from Lee Garwood (Conservation Officer in Hailey, Dr. Mark Drew (our Veterinarian), and Steve Roberts, (Conservation Officer in Fairfield).

On January 22, 2012, Officers Garwood and Morris responded to a call about a sick or injured wolf in a driveway in the Starweather subdivision (North of Hailey). The wolf was collected and sent to our Veterinarian in Boise for necropsy. Dr. Drew told us today that he had necropsied the wolf about a week after receiving it. It was negative for rabies. The rest of the lab work is still outstanding, as to the actual cause of being so thin.

We don’t know what wolf north of Fairfield Jennifer is referring to. We did find 6 wolves dead north of Fairfield in the summer of 09, but after lab work, the most likely cause of death was determined to be Parvo. If we can provide any more info, don’t hesitate to ask.
Take care,
Jerome”

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Rockholm Media: The Beginning and the End

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U.S. Sportman’s Alliance Submits Comments To USFWS on Maine’s ITP for Canada Lynx

The U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance Foundation (USSAF) announced this week that they have submitted comments to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in regards to the State of Maine’s application for an Incidental Take Permit, that, if granted, would release Maine and the trappers from liability for accidentally trapping a Canada lynx while trapping other legal species.

The USSAF stated that they support the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MDIFW) application and request that the USFWS not add any further restrictions to the trapping codes, citing Maine’s current trapping laws are more than adequate in protecting the lynx.

Tom Remington

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Coyotes: Just Hanging Around Some Place in Maine

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Are Winter Ticks Killing Maine’s Moose Population?


Photo provided by Albert Ladd

Without even giving the debate on predator control in Maine a chance take root and accomplish goals, the debate now seems to be shifting toward the moose herd, including winter ticks and the new revelation that Maine has an estimated moose population of 75,000 or more.

Much of the fervor over winter ticks and moose began in early December when Terry Karkos, staff writer for the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine, penned an article about two guys who spent time in the woods last spring looking for shed antlers, found a lot of dead moose all covered with winter ticks.

He and a few friends said they found 50 dead moose calves and adult moose this year in the Jackman region while looking for horns and doing some spring fishing…………………

Eighteen people, including Mason, found 142 dead moose across Wildlife Management Districts 2, 4, 7, 8 and 12, which stretch from the Western Foothills to Aroostook County.

Those interviewed for the story attribute the deaths of these moose to winter ticks.

These are definitely not winter kill,” Mason said recently. “Of the typical winter kill animals like moose, it gets sick, it stands in a small area and basically you find 400 moose droppings and a dead moose in the middle of it………………………….

Every single one that I had found and that the other guys had found, the snow was just starting to come off them and they were totally untouched, so it’s obvious it’s not a predator kill,” Hall said. “You could see ticks right on them.

A deer and moose meat processor from Minot told Karkos, “I think we need a winter without any snow and about minus 30 (degrees) for a month and a half, because that’s the only way you’re going to get rid of them.”

That’s sort of the same story that seems to get spread around about winter ticks. There is information available and I think for the most part the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) biologists and others have done a respectable job getting out information about winter ticks.

In a November 6, 2011 Sun Journal article, once again Terry Karkos gets information from some of MDIFW’s biologists about the winter ticks.

Maine wildlife biologist Chuck Hulsey:

Winter ticks are affected by what the previous winter was,” Hulsey said Friday. “If you have a lot of snow and a lot of cold, that’s not good for the ticks. If you have less snow and more warmth, it’s really good for the ticks.

Maine wildlife biologist Lee Kantar:

In October and November, winter tick larvae climb shrubs and grasses, gather in huge clusters and wait to ambush moose as they walk past, Kantar said.

“When the ticks are on that bush and they sense the heat of the moose walking by, they basically grab a hold and the whole cluster of moose tick gets onto the moose,

There seems to be a bit more information about winter ticks that I haven’t found in any Maine publications that deals more in depth with what happens in the fall when the winter tick larvae are gathering on vegetation waiting for a free ride with a host. In addition to that, while these winter ticks effect all wild ungulates, why pick on the moose so much. And, it is said that the winter ticks don’t actually kill the moose, but rarely, are we looking at an honest assessment of all factors that kill a moose weakened by tens of thousands of blood sucking ticks?

Lee Kantar says that the winter tick is a “huge contributor” to the death of some moose, he also points out that, “it’s not the sole cause”. Even on the MDIFW website, information provided about moose states that, “winter tick and lung worm infestations rarely kill moose”.

This information is supported in existing studies about moose and winter ticks. William M. Samuel and Dwight A. Welch, “Winter Ticks on Moose and Other Ungulates: Factors Influencing Their Population Size” states that winter ticks (dermacentor albipictus) being the cause of death isn’t certain because, “unequivocal evidence is lacking”.

I think therefore it might be honest to conclude that the cause of death in the majority of dead moose being found in the Maine woods that are inundated with ticks, was not the tick alone. There had to have been other factors. We’ll address those in a moment.

First I think it important to better understand what takes place in the fall of the year. We have read statements from biologists and outdoor sportsmen that seem to indicate that Maine needs little snow and very cold temperatures to kill off the ticks. While that may be true it’s not the entire story in the life cycle of these ticks.

Samuel and Welch state that for there to be significant die-offs of winter ticks, you need 6 consecutive days in which the temperature does not exceed 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not the only way to kill the ticks and/or lessen the severity of ticks on moose.

During the fall months, in Maine’s climate around September and October, the winter tick larvae find their way onto vegetation. They clump together on the ends of small branches etc. These larvae can be found on vegetation just above the ground to quite high up in trees. The larvae wait until a passing, warm-bodied host, in this case a moose, passes by and then they attach themselves to the moose and the ride begins. You can read all the splendid details by reading the studies, etc.

It is during this time of year, September/October, that certain weather events can have a significant effect on how severe the tick season will become. Early cold temperatures, especially those below freezing, will greatly reduce the activity of the larvae, i.e. limiting their effectiveness of attaching themselves to the moose or even migrating up the stems of vegetation.

Early snows can bury the larvae and stiff fall winds will blow the larvae off the vegetation scattering it around and to the ground preventing the larvae from being able to find a host. The studies of Samuel and Welch, as well as others, seem to agree that the weather events of the fall have a greater effect on tick production than hoping for enough snow and cold in winter to kill the ticks. Without a host, the larvae die.

There are other interesting things to be discovered about moose and winter ticks. For example, these winter ticks bother all wild ungulates, i.e. deer, moose, elk, etc., but most scientists will agree that it seems to be the moose that is the most effected. It is assumed that it all has to do with timing.

The aggregation of the larvae on vegetation seems to more closely fall in line with the timing of the moose mating season. During this time, moose are most active, covering greater amounts of territory than normal and male moose travel more than the females and thus explains the observation by some that it seems bull moose are more effected by the winter ticks than cows. I believe this conclusion about bull moose vs. cow moose is based on assumptive reasoning than anything concluded through scientific study.

In the Samuel/Welch study, experiments were conducted and it was determined that moose have an aversion to larvae/tick infested food. Imagine if they didn’t. If moose have an ability to smell or sense the larvae on the vegetation and in their food, it might also help to explain the claims of some and what is obvious on the ground that predators and scavengers won’t touch the dead carcass of a tick infested moose.

Studies have shown us that there can exist tens of thousands of ticks on any one moose and that this number of ticks can certainly put the moose into a weakened state. Moose are already in a weakened state just trying to survive the winters. Compound that with 50,000 ticks and the problems snowball. However, as we have learned, the ticks alone rarely kill a moose but certainly contribute to it.

When the blood sucking begins, the moose spends much of it’s time “grooming”. Studies tell us that moose that are troubled by the biting ticks do not bed down as often nor as long as non infected moose. This of course tires the animal even more.

While studies seem to be lacking on exactly what happens to the composition of the moose’s blood while all these ticks are feasting, it is honest to assume that the more female, blood sucking ticks there are on a moose, factoring also the moose’s body mass, the greater a weakened state is realized due to loss of blood.

All of these factors and more, make the moose more vulnerable to all the other elements that contribute to normal winter kill. In other words, it becomes more difficult to get enough nourishment; loss of blood and reduced winter hair makes the moose more susceptible to hypothermia; spending so much time “grooming” expends valuable energy needed for survival and with all these losses a moose certainly could not ward off attacks and harassment by predators.

This is perhaps where I’ll get ambushed but please consider the facts and possibilities. There is no denying that coyotes/wolves will harass and kill moose, deer and elk during their weakened winter states. Even though it is seen and believed to be accurate that predators and even scavengers will not touch a tick-infested moose carcass, at what point does a pack of hungry wolves/coyotes know their target is tick infested.

Some of us have been made aware through written and video accounts of how these predators take down and kill, often eating alive, their prey. We have also seen videos and photographs that document coyotes and wolves chasing down their prey. How long could a moose, weakened by normal winter strains and tick infestation, last in trying to run away from a predator attack? Not long I’m afraid. Would the moose have survived if the predator wasn’t there? There’s no way of knowing the answer to that question.

Which brings us once again back to the same point about predators. It seems that when all things within our forests are going well, little concern is given to predators and the effects they have on our game animals. When things get skewed, those populations of predators loom large over the forests and can raise some serious cane even to a point of prohibiting the rebuilding of a herd of deer or moose, in this case a herd that might be suffering some from these blasted ticks.

So, what do we do about the ticks? What can we do? In one report a gentleman suggested some kind of spraying program to kill the ticks but I’m not sure how feasible that is or if that’s something we want to pour onto our landscapes. We can’t control the weather but we can control the predators. But, is that the answer either to this exact equation?

In George Smith’s blog post yesterday, he explained that one Dr. Anthony who attended a recent information session on Maine’s moose, suggested that instead of trying to limit hunting permits for moose to protect them due to increased mortality from ticks, that killing more of the moose might be the better solution.

I’ll leave you with some questions. Feel free to chime in below in the comments section with some answers.

1. According to George Smith’s blog post I referenced above, in 2007 the estimated moose population of Maine was 45,000. Now Lee Kantar, Maine’s head deer and moose biologist claims there are 75,000 or more. Are there now too many moose in Maine which is exacerbating the tick problem?

2. If so, do we kill more moose during the moose hunt? Or do we protect more moose?

3. George Smith states that the new moose counts are, “more credible than any previous estimates”. He offers no substantive proof of his claim. Do you think the new counts are more “credible” or accurate than previous and why?

Who would have thought 35 years ago Maine would be asking if the state had too many moose?

Tom Remington

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Snow On The Ground Can Tell Quite a Story With Coyotes

A reader sent me some information and photographs that he took near his travels as a trapper. Below is a brief explanation he gave with the photographs that follow that.

“Cutting some wood nearby, so I threw a couple coyote carcasses over a steep bank. Fox had been after it a bit, but yesterday I looked over and the whole area was packed down with coyote tracks. The carcasses were pulled out and about half eaten. Probably just a couple coyote or so, but the amount of milling around was unreal. Maybe an area 100ft by 200ft.”

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Two Alaska Eagles Overlooking Feeding Grounds


Photo by Al Remington

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Coexist


Photo Editorial by Richard Paradis

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Montana Gubernatorial Candidate Fanning to Restructure FWP “So Help Me God!”

In an email exchange, of which I have been made privy to, it shows that even among the ranks of those with a common interest, opinions vary and disagreements persist.

A concerned Montana citizen, Tom Madden, sends an email to Gary Marbut, President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association (MSSA). Madden takes Marbut to task in what he sees as the position of the MSSA to “gut” the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP).

The thought of a group like yours wanting to gut the FWP is very unsettling to many of us and we see it as yet another attempt or reason to institute Ranching for wildlife which would kill the sport of fair chase hunting and the reason most Montanan’s live here and work for shit wages.

From this email, it appears that Mr. Madden believes what problems exist in wildlife management in Montana can be rectified through government legislation. Ironic as it appears, Madden blames the problems of wildlife management on the Legislature and suggests using the Legislature to correct those problems. His solution is a bill that “increases the elk objectives” so there are enough elk to feed both hunters and large predators; a task easy to express and difficult to accomplish.

Increasing the the elk objectives across the board by 35% would do wonders to bring the elk heards[sic] back. also[sic] create and pass a bill that has a wolf objective number that would only allow X number of breeding wolves thus reducing the unregulated wolf population.

Madden further goes on to reveal that his perceptions are that “sportsmen” must all comprise a population of wealthy people of whom the majority spend $50 – $100 a day at the shooting range, are members of country clubs and can drop $50 – $100 anytime they have a mind for a tank of gas, and as such should be able to pay whatever the price is that MFWP asks for a license fee.

Madden promises Marbut that his group of “sportsmen” are going to bring “MANY bills” to the Montana Congress, that will be “PRO sportsman”, full of “common sence”[sic], and “good bills, well thought out that include resident sportsmen.” Madden suggests MSSA “take a proactive approach to fixing the problems created by the Legislature”.

Gary Marbut responded directly to Mr. Madden by first explaining who specifically MSSA advocates for.

MSSA does not advocate for “sportsmen.” MSSA advocates for hunters, primarily the typical Montana hunter who needs to fill his freezer to feed his family for the following year. Frankly, we don’t care much about cockfighting, fox hunting with hounds and horses, collecting trophy mounts, or many of the other things covered by the term “sportsman.” MSSA does not advocate for landowners or ranchers. They have their own lobby. Ditto outfitters.

Marbut explains that those MSSA advocates for “certainly not any more wealthy, on average, than the average Montana citizen”, and shares the reason these Montana citizens aren’t buying is because, “there is nothing left to hunt, because FWP has gone so readily along with the plan to feed Montana’s game herds to large predators (especially wolves, but including bears and lions) rather than Montana families.”.

After an explanation of the positions of MSSA, Mr. Marbut then takes the MFWP to task for their failures citing:

1. “FWP has clearly failed in its duty under law to properly manage and protect Montana’s herds of huntable game – to preserve those herds for those who have always paid the bills, hunters. The agency has long maintained a culture of arrogance and disdain for what anyone but the FWP elite wish to do or accomplish with Montana’s hunting heritage.”

2. “FWP even vigorously opposed MSSA’s decade-long but ultimately successful effort to put the Right to Hunt into the Montana Constitution.”

3. “FWP has been begged, asked, persuaded and even commanded by the Legislature to change its ways and listen to common sense. The agency has made endless excuses why it does something different than is requested, or even mandated by the Legislature. The agency will NOT listen.”

From this point, Marbut explains why his position is to “gut” MFWP.

FWP has demonstrated for far too long that it simply doesn’t care what anyone but the agency thinks or wants and will use any disingenuous tactic to defend its turf. The only recourse it has left Montana is to jerk the rug out from under it. I wish things had not come to this impasse, but it is only FWP that is responsible. At this point, no amount of promises to “do better” will satisfy the thousands of Montanans who have watched in frustration as FWP sold out our heritage.

Robert Fanning, Jr. is a candidate for the office of governor in the state of Montana. He is also founder of Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd. As a recipient of the above referenced email, Fanning took the opportunity to show his position on wildlife management in his home state. In August of 2011, the early stages of Fanning’s campaign, he shared with supporters his proposals for MFWP if he were governor. In the email he urges us to read what he wrote last August and to reference a bill, HB343, proposed in 2007 that was to seek the removal of gray wolves in Montana from the Endangered Species List and just as importantly seek damages caused by the reintroduction of wolves and the poor management since reintroduction.

While I have provided above a link to Fanning’s August proposals, I have decided it would be appropriate to republish his piece here.

Robert Fanning, Candidate Mt. Governor Reveals His Proposals for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department

In a recent email sent out to subscribers, Robert T. Fanning, founder of Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd, outdoorsman, economist, political activist and now candidate for Montana governor, offered some of his notions of what a revamped Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department would look like under his watch.

1) Mt. FW&P primary mission will be about access to wild game meat for Montanans’ poor, voiceless and common man (especially-particularly veterans) rather than feeding federal wolves valuable protein which is the property of our citizens. See 2005 HJR 29 which I helped author below, these are the values of a super majority of our citizens.

2) Non game species will be defunded except for the location, collaring and control of wolves in strict adherence with Montana law.

3) Montana FW&P will get a regular, true and accurate peer reviewed census of the location and number of every ungulate within her 147,042 sq mi borders. The F&G commission will see to it that Montanans are given access to huntable game populations all over the state. Conservation easements, etc. don’t transfer title of Montana’s game herds to private land owners.

4) All wolf packs will be located and collared in strict adherence with Montana law. The federal “Wolf Implimentation Rules of Nov. 18 1994? will be overriding policy for all problem wolves.

5) Once Mt FW&P has been completely restructured and streamlined; administration, oversight, all funding and policy direction, will be completely turned over to the legislature. The Executive branch will never again be able to use our wildlife policy to raise money for an Executive branch political campaign war chest.

6) Mt FW&P will not be allowed to lobby the legislature. They will answer the Legislatures’ direct questions as informational witnesses, then leave the Capitol building.

7) SENATE BILL NO. 163….2001 Montana Legislature will be reversed IF the federal government does not pay for their unfunded “experimental non-essential” wolf mandate and install a federal 5th amendment restitution mechanism for those “harmed” in the past and all those forced to pay “the wolf tax” in the future. Natural rights, civil rights and Constitutional rights will trump the ESA in Montana, so help me God.

8) Echinococcus granulosus hydatid disease, neospora caninum and 28 other wolf born diseases & parasites will be objectively studied with highly competent peer reviewed science and quantified as public health threats, threats to our ungulates and their capacity to reproduce/recruit and Montanans’ livestock industry.

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Open Letter to Maine Trappers, Hunters, Commissioner Woodcock and Governor LePage

*Editor’s Note:* The below letter was sent electronically to Gov. Paul LePage, MDIFW Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and several hunting industry leaders throughout Maine.

I have spent much of the last three days studying and researching the laws governing trapping, snaring and in particular the Coyote Control Program. I finished up a 30 minute session on the telephone with the Maine Law Library this morning and learned some very interesting pieces of information. I’ll try to spare all the details and provide only those of importance.

PL2003 c. 655 an act by the Legislature, effective Aug. 31, 2004, repealed all of Title 12, section 10105 subsection 3. In other words there is no longer a Coyote Control Program in Maine. Prior to the repeal, the language of 10105 sub 3 was as follows:

“3. Coyote control program. Pursuant to section 10053, subsection 8, the commissioner shall maintain a coyote control program as follows.
“A. The commissioner may employ qualified persons to serve as agents of the department for purposes of coyote control. These agents must be trained by the department in animal damage control techniques and must be utilized by the department to perform coyote control duties in areas where predation by coyotes is posing a threat to deer or other wildlife. Each agent shall execute a cooperative agreement with the department specifying the conditions and limitations of the agent’s responsibilities as an agent, including any terms for reimbursement of expenses or payment of wages.
“B. Agents must be trained in the use of snares and must be deployed in the unorganized townships to control coyotes during the winter months. All snaring must be carried out under the direction of department officials and with the knowledge of the local game warden. All areas of snaring activity must be adequately posted.
“C. Agents may be utilized for the benefit of agricultural interests as long as the department is reimbursed annually for the cost of those efforts by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources from funds specifically appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources for that purpose.”

All that exists now in Maine Statute Title 12, Section 10105 is:

3. Coyote control program.
[ 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §21 (RP); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §422 (AFF) .]

The history line across the bottom tells us the process of the elimination of the Coyote Control Program laws.

All that governs snaring in Maine is Maine Statute 12252 which bans snaring and Maine Statute Title 12, Section 10105, subsection 1:

1. Authorize taking or destruction of wildlife. Whenever the commissioner determines it necessary for the accomplishment of the commissioner’s statutory duties, the commissioner may authorize a person to assist the commissioner in the taking and destruction of any wildlife. The commissioner may place conditions or restrictions on any authorization granted under this subsection. A person who violates a condition or restriction placed on an authorization granted under this subsection invalidates that authorization and subjects that person to applicable laws under this Part.
[ 2003, c. 614, §9 (AFF); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §20 (AMD); 2003, c. 655, Pt. B, §422 (AFF) .]

This repeal, which by the way includes LD237 which provided the guidelines in which the IFW Commissioner could implement a snaring program, could have effectively been undertaken during the recodification process that became law in 2003. I don’t know that this happened but it is a possibility. Regardless, it is my opinion that the laws of the State of Maine and the wishes of the people have been circumvented through manipulation of the “process” in order to achieve certain goals and agendas.

So, it would appear, by law, the ONLY thing the Commissioner has a legal right to do is hire or appoint trappers/hunters to target coyotes, with limited traps due to lynx lawsuit protections or rifles, that are killing our deer herds. And with no more Coyote Control Program, in which the Legislature once many years ago and reiterated several times after, mandated that the Commissioner/IFW formulate a Control Program, does this not make Maine more susceptible to lawsuits by targeting coyotes or any other predator to save deer?

Any notions anyone has that Maine will ever implement a snaring program again should be flushed out of their minds. We can waste time blaming anyone and everyone for what has happened but it fails to change the facts.

Snaring is not supported by IFW, I don’t know if the Legislature or the Governor’s office supports it, but it will never happen and it will definitely not happen with the approval of the USFWS. So, let’s stop wasting our time and energy. It’s just NOT going to happen.

As sportsmen, who care about our opportunities to hunt for deer and fill our freezers for food for the year, how do we change 1.) the laws and support needed from the Joint Committee and the Legislature to save this industry?, and 2.) how do we change the attitudes of those at IFW who support the propagation and spread of predators, rather spend their time and efforts on non game programs and view hunting and trapping as activities that they deem as socially unacceptable activities? These attitudes have no place in a fish and game department in which I invest my hard earned money to support. This MUST change!

It’s time for IFW, the Legislature and the Governor’s office to come clean on where Maine stands in its statutes to govern trapping and snaring and move forward in an aggressive and meaningful manner to remove harmful predators and rebuild the deer herd. If this can be done, it is my belief that there will be more support from the sporting community to dig in and help.

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