September 23, 2019

Coyotes Keep Me Awake Nights……….Here in the City

My official residence is in a small city in Florida. The population of this city is around 70,000, sitting nearly smack dab in the center of Pinellas County, which has a year-round population of just under a million. During this time of year, migration of the snowbirds, the population grows considerably – some estimates say it nearly doubles.

My problem is coyotes. I live adjacent to a parcel of land owned by the city that is perhaps 20 acres in size. There is a small park on one side and another place near me that is home to a club of radio-controlled airplane fliers. It’s also the home to a pack of coyotes, which by the sounds now number around 6 or 8.

One of the major differences in living with coyotes in the city versus the country, is here sirens from emergency and rescue vehicles are blasting near and distant very often during the night. Once the sirens begin, the howls and yapping commences until all members are participating in a frenzy of yips, howls and yaps.

I’ve had to resort to running a fan during the night to help drown out the noises so I can get some uninterrupted sleep.

Couldn’t happen to a better person. (Insert smiley here.)

Tom Remington

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Maine Announces “New Deer Initiative” in an Odd Way

Below is a copy of a letter I received on Saturday that announces an “outdoor partnership” that will address Maine’s non existent deer herd and create what they are calling a “network” to accomplish three major tasks: Habitat Management, Predation Management, and Hunting.

What’s odd about the announcement and creation of this “network” is that on Saturday evening, this conglomeration of hand-picked “outdoor partners” met for a fundraiser/game supper ($25.00 per plate) at the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) headquarters in a bit of a secret fashion.

I learned of this event on the morning of the day the event was scheduled and it appears I certainly am not in a minority of those uninformed. I was told by one interested party that the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine (SAM) is going to be the “facilitator/coordinator” for the “network” and all work will take place at the club level.

I was also told that an announcement of this fundraiser was sent to the “outdoor partners” and because of space restrictions a broader announcement couldn’t be made. However, some of those emailing me in disgust are members of those lowly “clubs” that will be called upon to do the grunt work and, no doubt, contribute money.

I will reserve comment on the plan of action and the three major components of that plan for a later date but I just don’t understand this action. To date, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) has failed miserably in management of the state’s deer herd. It would appear to me that any actions undertaken by private interests should remain a completely separate function of MDIFW; not in isolation but certainly not as partners. Until MDIFW can prove itself seriously dedicated to the restoration of the deer herd, considering them an “outdoor partner” is a bit premature.

Regardless of my opinions, here’s the letter that accompanied the announcement of the fundraiser:

OUTDOOR PARTNERS TO LAUNCH A MAJOR NEW DEER INITIATIVE
Gerry Lavigne
Retired deer biologist

It’s no secret that the white-tailed deer population is in tough shape in Maine.  Severe winters, wintering habitat loss and excessive predation have taken their toll over the years.  Waning deer populations have diminished hunting and wildlife watching opportunity, and Maine’s rural economy has taken a severe hit as a result.  It is widely agreed that white-tailed deer populations need to be recovered.  The question is how do we go about it?

The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) is in the early stages of implementing a plan to increase deer populations, focusing heavily on the northern half of the state (see “Maine’s Game Plan for Deer” on the Dept.’s website: www.mefishwildlife.com).  MDIFW’s deer plan anticipates extensive collaboration with its outdoor partners.  And they are right to reach out for help in restoring the deer herd.  With a Warden Service second to none, and a well-trained and dedicated biological staff, the Dept. is well-positioned to implement many of the remedies needed to restore Maine’s deer herd.  Yet, the Dept. cannot do this alone.  With 94% of the state in private ownership, and a land area nearly equal to the rest of New England, the logistics of improving habitat, reducing predation losses, and enforcing the game laws would be impossible without a lot of help from Maine hunters and landowners.

We sense a great willingness among Mainers to do something for our deer resource.  Hunters are beginning to realize they need to be stewards of the deer resource and not just consumers of it.  And landowners, large and small, are awakening to the reality that what they do with their land can have a profound impact on wildlife populations, including deer.  Although willing to help, many hunters and landowners lack the knowledge, or skills, or even the encouragement to get involved in deer restoration and management efforts.  What is needed is some way for all of MDIFW’s outdoor partners to network to exchange ideas, increase management skills, and monitor progress in restoring Maine deer.
 
Sportsmen, SAM, the Maine Professional Guides Association, fish and game clubs are stepping up to fulfill that need by creating the MAINE DEER MANAGEMENT NETWORK.  We will provide links to our outdoor partners, so that users can readily access information available on their websites.  As funding becomes available, we will host meetings, conferences, and training seminars dealing with habitat management, trapping and predator hunting, and a variety of other topics related to deer restoration and management.  We will produce DVDs and other educational materials.  And we will provide a place where hunters and landowners can share tips, tactics and ideas that may help others succeed at protecting and managing deer.

We will also support the Maine Deer Management Network at the Legislature and in other political venues.  We will provide outreach by attending meetings at Fish and Game clubs, Wildlife Conservation associations, Landowner associations and others, when possible, to provide input to their deer management efforts.  We will provide information in the print media by providing feature articles on deer management and outdoor recreation topics for the daily newspapers, and sporting magazines in Maine.  Finally, we will coordinate closely with MDIFW to assure mutual progress in restoring and then maintaining healthy deer populations again.

As presently envisioned, the Maine Deer Management Network will focus on three major topics:  Habitat Management, Predation Management, and Hunting.  Successful restoration of Maine’s deer herd depends on how well we manage deer productivity and losses.

Habitat management involves both summer and winter range.  The amount and quality of wintering habitat greatly affects deer survival.  Both malnutrition and predation losses are minimized in high quality wintering habitat.  Maine has lost a great deal of its deer wintering areas over the past 40 years, particularly in the northern half of the state.  MDIFW has made deer yard protection and enhancement a priority.  We agree, and we want to help the Dept. succeed by helping them network with large and small landowners who own deer wintering areas.

The quality of summer range affects deer nutrition, productivity, and pre-winter condition.  Many individual landowners are interested in improving their acreage for deer.  Too often, they lack the information needed to get started.  There are several landowner organizations and land trusts already involved in providing information to landowners.  We hope to partner with groups like the Small Woodlot Owners of Maine (SWOAM), the Maine Farm Bureau, the Maine Tree Farmers Association, the Quality Deer Management Association, the Downeast Lakes Land Trust and others to share information and to increase awareness of these organizations and what they have to offer.

Predation management is essential to restoring deer populations in the northern, western and eastern parts of Maine.  Deer inhabiting poor quality wintering habitat are highly susceptible to predation by coyotes and to a lesser degree, bobcats.  Even in good habitat, losses to predators occur in excess of malnutrition losses during severe winters.  Low deer populations can be held at low densities by abundant predator populations.  Adult deer are not the only targets of predators.  Predation on newborn deer fawns can, and in many places is excessive as coyotes, bears, bobcats, fishers, foxes, and domestic dogs all exploit this food source during June and July.  Excessive predation on neonate deer can prevent populations from increasing, even when adult deer losses are held to a minimum.

While no one is advocating elimination of mammalian predators of deer in Maine, many of us have come to realize that predator populations should be held at levels that allow depleted deer herds to rebound.  This is no small task, considering the abundance of coyotes and black bears in Maine.  MDIFW has recently revamped its animal damage control program to better manage predation effects on deer by reducing coyote densities near major deer wintering areas prior to the onset of severe wintering conditions.  This is a good approach and we are eager to support Dept. efforts to reduce predation losses near deer wintering areas.  But the Dept. cannot afford to target all wintering areas, given its current funding and personnel resources.  This is where individual hunters can really have an impact!

We believe that one path toward annually reducing coyote densities is to develop coyote hunting into the next big hunting activity in Maine.  Specifically, we’d like to transition the coyote from varmint status, to the valuable, huntable furbearer resource that it can be. As with trapping of coyotes, hunting these large, wary canids is challenging and exciting.  If just a few thousand of Maine’s 150,000 deer hunters also become coyote hunters, we may just have the right pressure to annually reduce the negative impacts of these predators on deer.  To that end, a goodly portion of the Maine Deer Management Network will be devoted to promoting coyote hunting.  We will dovetail with the Department’s, coyote management efforts.  We envision a volunteer “Adopt a Deer Yard” program targeting coyote hunting near deer wintering areas by individual hunters, or clubs.  We will link with organizations involved with coyote hunting.  We intend to be a resource that individuals can turn to for information on coyote biology, hunting tactics, available equipment, bait sources, etc.  We can be a source of input and news on coyote hunting, club activities, hunting contests and the like.  Generally we want to establish that sound predator management is an important component of successful deer management in Maine.

The third major element of the Maine Deer Management Network is the human side of the equation, both hunting and non-hunting.  No hunter lives and hunts in a vacuum.  Most of us hunt on someone else’s land, and the continuation of that privilege depends on how landowners and non-hunters perceive our activities.  As part of this network, we will find opportunities to strengthen the connection between hunters and the non-hunting public.  We will inform all Maine people about the impacts of hunting and outdoor recreation on Maine’s economy.  We intend to be a resource where hunters can find information on the latest hunting regulations, including legislative changes as they occur.  We will stress the importance of ethical hunting behavior, encourage active participation in game law compliance, and help define the importance of hunting and trapping as a means of keeping wildlife populations at compatible levels.

As a concept, the Maine Deer Management Network has been percolating for quite a while.  It is still a work in progress, but we are excited about its potential.  Over the next couple of months, will be putting this network online with the help of retired deer biologist, Gerry Lavigne.  Let us know what you think of the Maine Deer Management Network, and contact us with your ideas at any time.        
          

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Maine Predator Field Report Update

This morning I posted an update to the article I published last week on Maine’s predators from trappers in the field. One of the emails contained information about coyote trapping/snaring in New Brunswick, Canada. This latest update straightens out some numbers on trappers and harvest and the methods used for taking coyotes. Follow this link to read the update.

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Maine Predator Field Report

*Scroll for an Update*

Snaring, a method of trapping using a snare instead of a leg-hold trap that quickly kills targeted animals such as coyotes, is prohibited in the state of Maine but not on Maine Indian lands. A trapper who lives in the Eastern part of the state of Maine, snares coyotes on Indian land. The below photo is of 5 coyotes snared on Indian land around deer wintering yards.

Snaring has proven an effective way of controlling coyote populations where there are problems. During winter months, coyotes, being an intelligent animal, learn where the deer go to winter. They go into these “yards” to kill and eat. Knowledgeable trappers with snares, can target coyotes around the perimeter of the yards. This keeps in check the coyote populations and helps limit the number of kills deer suffer from the predation. In areas where deer numbers are low to begin with, targeting these areas is a very effective way to prevent losses to deer herds that sometime take years to rebuild.

In addition to this report of successful snaring on Indian lands, I received another email that reported on trapping in New Brunswick, Canada. Here’s the bulk of what the email reported:

“Spent last weekend at the New Brunswick Trappers Convention. You may be interested to know they have begun a pelt incentive program for trappers on coyotes in NB. This was initiated after a very successful program in Nova Scotia. This will be the 3rd yr in NS. Last yr a little over 500 trappers harvested over 2500 coyotes (rough numbers, I will check on the final tally). It only is available if the pelt is prepared and sold. (Puts them 50yrs ahead of Maine and MIF&W’s decision to exempt Coyotes from the wanton waste laws. They are laughing at us over that). Than the Province pays a supplemental amount on the price received. In NB it will be $20. Makes most of them worth total about $50”

*Update:* January 23, 2012 I got an update email to events in New Brunswick and the number of coyotes being trapped and the methods used. This update clarifies or changes some of the figures presented above.

I just returned from some meetings in Toronto. The true numbers on The Nova Scotia coyote pelt incentive program are for 2009/10 – 268 trappers, 1736 coyotes; 2010/11 – 366 trappers, 2643 coyotes. May also be interested to know the vast majority of them were snared. In NB. snaring on bait stations is the accepted practice for harvesting all their coyotes, fox and bobcats. They also have an “endangered Lynx population” all across the northern part of the province. 10 miles away in Quebec they are harvesting Lynx which are part of that overall population. Someone needs to get their act together.

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A Welcome to Idaho That’s Deliciously Ironic and Becoming Iconic

Too, too precious!

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What Will Maine’s Hunter Task Force Recommend To Bring Hunters Back?

Reports are that the Nonresident Hunter Task Force will formally submit recommendations to the Joint Standing Committee on Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on January 23, 2012. George Smith gives readers a glimpse into what he believes the Task Force’s recommendations will be.

In brief those recommendations or perhaps what they will NOT recommend, might look like this:

1. Will NOT recommend Sunday hunting.
2. Recommend to allow nonresident hunters to hunt on residents only day. (What will we name that day?)
3. Recommend a more equitable means of distributing Any-Deer Permits and Moose Lottery Permits.
4. Recommend better and/or different marketing strategies to bring hunters to the state to hunt turkeys, upland birds, ducks and rabbits.

Missing from Smith’s report and presumably missing from any recommendations we can expect by this task force, is increased efforts to control predators that are seriously limiting hunting opportunities for deer. As I’ve written many times before, the overwhelming majority of hunting licenses sold in Maine are to hunt deer. While it’s a good recommendation to market Maine’s other hunting opportunities, Maine is only kidding itself if they think they can somehow replace lost license revenue by promoting bunny hunting (isn’t killing bunnies competing directly with the “threatened” lynx population whose main diet is bunnies?).

Even an obligatory and cursory mention that the Task Force recognizes the need to grow whitetail deer would at least acknowledge they do see this as a problem. However, reading and studying the minutes of the Task Force meetings, the objective appeared to be to ignore that problem and concentrate on trying to hide it from potential or past nonresident hunting license holders.

As Smith points out, “most of the recommendations can (unfortunately) be placed in the category of wishful thinking”, does this then show what a waste of time and effort it all was? Can we collectively compute all the accomplishments of the numerous “task forces” the Maine Government has assembled to “solve” fish and game problems and fit them with room to spare into a sewing thimble? Perhaps another task force to determine if previous task forces have been productive?

Government in action!


Photo Editorial by Richard Paradis

Tom Remington

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83 Less Deer Killers in Maine

COYOTES – Sent in by David Miller

Last year about this time five members of the Carrabassett Valley Trappers reported in an article that the five had trapped and tagged 70 some coyotes. They had taken the coyotes in the early canine season in late October of 2010. This effort helped to reduce damage to livestock and wildlife (deer in particular).

This last year’s (2011) take during the same time frame resulted in the five individuals tagging 83. The period trapped is the special canine season that runs two weeks before the general trapping season and deer hunting season. The five trappers in the photograph are left to right Dave Miller, Gordon Blauvelt, Matt Landry, Steve Rankin, and Jerry LeBeau.

With approximately 2000 licensed trappers in the state, if each caught just 5 apiece, the benefits to our deer herd would be tremendous. With the current condition of the deer herds in western, northern, and down east Maine recovery is about impossible with the current level of predators. These predators that prey on deer size mammals include bears, bobcats, and coyotes; with coyotes being the most prevalent and damaging. At present, the deer numbers are so low that with the level of current predation deer recovery is impossible. This is because the number born and surviving to adulthood is less than that taken annually by the predators.

Trappers, hounds men, and hunters together with effort can reduce the predation by coyotes to a level where recovery is possible along with proper deer wintering area management and the lack of back to back bad winters. The loss of our deer herd has resulted in a tremendous impact to our states economy and in particular that of rural Maine. Deer hunting alone was a multi-million dollar business to the state. In recent years we have seen a great reduction in the number of out of state hunters. The majority of those same hunters (at their own admission) now go to New York, Pennsylvania and other destinations to hunt. They say, why hunt in Maine when there are so few or in some areas no deer anymore.

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In Maine, Black Bears Still About in Mid January

I have been reporting this week of several field reports in Maine as to what is happening. Just this morning I finished posting a report of a coyote(s) chasing a deer and it was captured on a trail camera.

In a completely separate report, by a completely different person, on opposite ends of the state, comes word that bears are still out and about, or at least can be easily roused. Are these creatures not hibernating this winter?

Albert Ladd, from the Western part of Maine, sends me information that he, “Put bait out for coyotes a few days back”. Upon checking his bait pile he discovered that the bait was gone. Ladd says, “I walked out and found out it was dragged into the woods by a small bear.” (See photos below)

Ladd also surmised that being that his bait pile was near a “lot of rock and ledge”, the bear’s den is someplace not so far away. Perhaps the bear, not being snowed under in his den of hibernation, caught wind of the scent from the bait pile and he couldn’t resist.

While part of the contents of the bait pile was leftover bear parts, Ladd referred to the bear as a “cannibal”.


Photo by Al Ladd


Photo by Al Ladd

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In Maine, Coyotes Chasing Deer

I’m receiving some interesting reports from around Maine now that we are into the winter season. Yesterday I posted a field report of a buck that had been killed and eaten by coyotes. From the same person, today I have pictures taken from a trail camera that shows a coyote in hot pursuit of a deer.

According to the report, a trail camera is set up “on two of the major trails deer use to migrate”. The individual filing this report states that they have set up on these same trails for “a few years” and that this year, “the number of deer that have traveled by the cameras is about half of what passed last year”.

Being that last year was an extremely poor year for deer, hearing this kind of reporting from the field is very troubling. I have also been hearing reports that there were more mature bucks taken this year. To some – trophy hunters – they find this encouraging. I find in concerning in that if large buck kill was up and the overall harvest was down or the same low rate as last year, perhaps we need to be paying close attention to what’s happening to the age structure of the herd. This might indicate the recruitment of new deer to the herd is very, very low.

However, the perpetuated myth continues that coyotes only bother deer in winter yards when there is a lot of snow. So far in Maine, there is essentially no snow and in those places that have snow, it’s not very much. Even with no snow, in the past two days I’ve been able to file field reports of coyotes chasing and killing deer.

Below are the two photos taken in sequence from one trail camera from the same location. The first picture shows a deer running (assumed because of the blur of the photograph), followed by the second photo of a coyote coming along the same trail moments later. I think the conclusion as to what the coyote is up to is obvious.

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Even With No Snow, Coyotes Killing Maine’s Deer

This morning a received in my email another account of coyotes killing deer in Maine. The report says:

Found this coyote killed buck today, He had already shed his horns, I judge his size as a 200 lb. deer. While I was up another stream setting a beaver house three coyotes had chased another one across the stream twice, I’m sure they are eating on that one tonight. The coyote sign is the heaviest I’ve ever seen it. SO SAD TO LIVE IN A STATE THAT WAS SO FAMOUS FOR IT’S NATURAL RESOURCES, NOW WE LIVE IN A STATE WITH THE MOST INCOMPETENT FISH AND WILDLIFE DEPT. OF ANY STATE IN THE COUNTRY.

While I understand this person’s frustrations with the incompetence he perceives from the fish and wildlife department, I can assure him Maine has some real stiff competition for that recognition.

Tom Remington

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