May 27, 2019

Controlling Coyotes Saves Deer

Controlling politicians may save more deer than killing coyotes.

From Outdoors in Maine:

“We can whine and moan that the state needs to do this and that, but it may never happen soon enough due to political reasons,” he said. “We as sportsmen need to keep taking it upon ourselves to do everything we can. Why? We are the effective ones! Keep up the great work.”

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Repeating Outcome-Based Post-Normal Science Doesn’t Make it True

CoyotesIn the June 2015 edition of Whitetail Journal, there’s an article about the affects coyotes are having on deer populations nationwide. Essentially the article is not very helpful to anyone wishing to know facts about predators and prey, their relationships, and all the things that effect those relationships. The article boldly states that, “The data shows…that [coyotes] don’t have major impacts on [deer] population levels.” That might be somewhat akin to saying that deep snows in Alaska don’t have major impacts on building snowmen in Florida.

It is impossible to draw conclusions, such as this, from a potpourri of studies from different regions under completely different circumstances, by agents seeking an outcome. While it might be useful to gain a basic understanding of how some coyotes, wolves, bobcats, etc. might act and react in their specific habitat, such actions do not necessarily trend into other zones by different predators, because everything is different and changes in ways not uniform across the entire nation.

Missing from the article was any discussion about how continued protection of predators, resulting in larger populations of the deer-killing varmints, would continue to negatively impact deer herds. Perhaps the author is a bit of a believer in “natural balance.” On the one hand the article states that, “…the impact of winter coyote predation is greater when deer are low, below five deer per square mile.” That is a fact. Possibly deer numbers were below 5 per square mile because coyotes reduced them to that level and kept them there. This is sometimes referred to as a “predator pit” – the result of Predator Mediated Competition. A predator pit occurs when there are more than one prey specie that predators can eat, otherwise, the coyote/wolf will move to another area where it can find prey. This will allow the prey species (deer) to somewhat recover before the next round of killing begins.

You will also read in this article that when deer populations are running as high as 55 deer per square mile, predator effects on deer seem low enough that managers can control the deer herd by limiting or increasing deer hunting permits. Is that acceptable?

But, don’t we all know this by now? If your favorite place to hunt has been or is overrun with predators resulting in 5 deer per square mile, then this is a problem at every level. Just because down in the Southeast, where there’s 50 or more deer per square mile, coyotes don’t seem to matter, this does little in understanding and taking the right positive steps to cure the problem.

Don’t forget! I’ve mentioned this often and will keep repeating it because it is proving to be quite a prophetic statement by Dr. Valerius Geist, professor emeritus University of Calgary. He stated before the annual Southeast Deer Study Group in 1995, in reference to their complaints of too many deer, “Enjoy your problem while it lasts, because the coyote is coming. Once he’s here, you’ll miss your deer problems.”

The article states that predator control doesn’t work and one excuse given is because coyotes are transient – meaning that if they kill all their prey in one area, they will move to another area and eventually other, or the same, coyotes will return if prey begins to recover. This is nothing new. The author cites studies that prove in the first year after substantial numbers of coyotes were removed from one study area, deer numbers, in particular fawn recruitment, increased dramatically. Over the next two years the numbers didn’t grow so much. And this is what the conclusion that coyote control don’t work is based on? I would like to know what the author expected.

The author goes on to conclude that the only way coyote control – that is for the purpose of protecting and growing deer herds, can work is, “…keep at it all the time, month after month, year after year.”

Like the Geico commercial says, “Everybody knows that.” Don’t they? They should. Anybody that I have ever talked with, who has a good understanding of the need for predator control, knows that it must be an ongoing endeavor. Deer management must include predator control. Without it, the ONLY other option is loss of hunting opportunity and eventually loss of hunting altogether, when growing numbers of predators cause dwindling game populations to predator pit levels. Is that acceptable?

If not, then don’t settle for predator protection over hunting opportunity.

An additional note: Environmentalist are always trying to butter their bread on both side. They have, historically, repeated the mantra that hunters and trappers, using bounties, extirpated or nearly did so, wolves and coyotes. In the next breath, they will tell us that hunting, trapping and using bounties not only won’t have any effect on reducing coyote numbers but will cause the numbers to go up. Amazing brain power there at work.

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Coyotes on the Run? Let’s Get Bears on the Run Too

LonelyCoyoteI have never met V. Paul Reynolds, but I think I should. I was never blessed with the ability to see a half-filled glass of water as half full – it’s always half-empty. Perhaps his positive and optimistic attitude would rub off on me.

Reynold’s latest article in the Sun Journal extols the successes of Maine’s coyote “suppression program” saying this effort has “coyotes on the run.”

According to Reynolds this year’s effort to limit the damage to deer in deer wintering areas has realized a harvest of around 500 coyotes – combined total from hired state coyote hunters and trappers, and private citizens by hunting, trapping and coyote derbies. Ryan Robicheau, Maine’s Wildlife Management Section Supervisor, says the budgeted amount of money for this programs, and using 500 coyotes as the number of coyotes killed, works out to $175.00 a coyote. However, if my calculations are correct, and I’m understanding the information provided, aside from the state’s effort and coyote yield of 270 varmints, all the rest of the kills were paid for out of individuals’ or groups’ pockets. Therefore, the cost per coyote harvested by state officials runs well over $200.00 – a figure most of us have come to recognize, wishing that money could be allotted to citizen trappers and hunters. Alas!

Actually, I was a bit surprised that there was still an ongoing coyote control program. It’s been so quiet (Okay let’s blame this on no PR position at MDIFW) I just assumed, like many programs the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) undertakes, just abruptly ended.

The article in reference states that the money appropriated is used to pay “professional” hunters and trappers to kill coyotes in and around “52 major deer wintering areas.” This is good and, in my opinion, with the limited supply of money, efforts should be targeted in critical areas where coyotes do the most harm. I would like to also see targeting of coyotes in known deer fawning areas. Like deer yards, coyotes know where the does go to birth, as do bears.

Maybe this is all a difference of perspective from being very optimistic and being realistic. I intend to not take away from the effort or the results. Some is good. More is even better. Here’s the take away…or is it a giveaway?

Robicheau says that this math[cost per coyote], coupled with anecdotal reports from winter trappers, strongly suggests that this coyote suppression program is working.

“Our people are seeing fewer coyotes this year in our designated deer wintering areas,”

The only way this program can continue to be successful is that this “suppression program” must be continuous, because the following year other coyotes move to the deer yards and more deer killing will commence.

What readers should not be confused about is that it might be a bit unclear about the success of this program and a program that would be designed to control the coyote population state wide. Robicheau says that anecdotal reports show a reduction in coyotes. It appears he is clarifying that when he says in the next sentence, “in our designated deer wintering areas.”

Because without exact clarification, math and previous statements made by such deer professionals as Gerry Lavigne, could get confusing. We don’t need confusion and we don’t need suppression of information. For instance, Lavigne has stated before that in order to begin reducing coyote populations, an annual coyote harvest needs to be about 70% of the existing animals. Once coyote numbers are reduced to the desired levels, that 70% harvest would need to be adjusted smaller in order to maintain a desired number. The program has to be continuous and well-monitored. Will that ever happen? NOPE!

Math can get fuzzy if we attempt to use Lavigne’s logarithm and apply it to the 500 coyotes killed and claims that there are now fewer coyotes than before. On it’s face, if we took those numbers, then if killing 500 coyotes reduced the overall number of coyotes to a point where fewer coyotes are being seen, then one would have to ask just how many coyotes does Maine have?

I have read, and I don’t believe there is an “official” population number, that coyotes in Maine number between 15,000 and 20,000. Clearly we see that a 500-coyote harvest is NOT a 70% reduction. A 70% reduction would be somewhere around 11,000 coyotes.

My point is not to confuse Lavigne’s general statement about state-wide coyote population control and that done in targeted deer wintering areas. As far as helping to protect the deer herd in winter deer yards, the program is good and appears to be helping. Personally, I would like to see a more substantial effort, because too many coyotes can have real negative effects on many other wildlife species, not just deer. But, I’ll take what we can get that works at any level.

And, if officials can figure out a way to protect deer fawning areas, perhaps a joint effort can be undertaken to limit fawn kills of deer, by both coyotes and bear. Bears are sleeping during winter months, but when they wake up they are hungry. When the does fawn, like the coyotes, the bear knows where the does fawn.

CoyoteFuture

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In 1984, Maine Planned Coyote Control Not Extermination

According to this article published in a Bangor Daily News newspaper, June 7, 1984, deer were “below the carrying capacity of the range, given the winters we have had.” So a plan was devised to “control” coyotes and not “exterminate” them.

It is safe to say that the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, along with Animal Damage Control, didn’t exterminate coyotes. And what year was it that the deer herd recovered and met carrying capacity and/or population target goals?

I thought so.

CoyoteControlExtermination

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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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