ISLESBORO, Maine — Along with flowers, warm breezes and visitors from other states, warm weather on Islesboro brings worries about ticks, Lyme disease and, by most accounts, an overabundance of deer on the picturesque Maine island community. Earlier this month, residents voted 45 to 27 at a special town meeting […]
In 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.
Deer & Tick Committee member Marc Wein wants to reshuffle the allocation of money from 4-posters to culling of deer.
Source: Wein plan would concentrate on cull | Shelter Island Reporter
AUGUSTA, Maine – The reward has again been increased for information leading to the conviction of those responsible for the shooting deaths of four does.
ST. ALBANS — Hours after people saw firefighters rescue a small deer from thin ice on Weymouth Pond, the animal was killed by a game warden who saw it suffering and believed it was unlikely to survive.
The deer was rescued Wednesday night, but “when I checked on it this morning it was laying on the shore,” Maine Game Warden Josh Tibbetts said Thursday. “They had put some corn down to try and feed it, but it wasn’t eating it. It didn’t even raise its head.”<<<Read More>>>
“A North Carolina friend recently told me deer had all but quit using a local bean field since the farmer switched to RR[Roundup Ready] beans. Now, he says, most feed in a nearby clover pasture instead.
Do those deer know something science doesn’t? It’s hard to say. Depending on where, when, how and by whom a given study was done, reported GMO impacts range from zero to catastrophic.”<<<Read More>>>
In addition to this:
52 U.S. Congress Members Sign Letter Warning of GMOs Killing Monarch Butterflies
“Dozens of House Democrats have signed onto a letter sent to President Obama claiming that the spread of GM crops is leading to the death of monarch butterflies.”<<<Read More>>>
Most like to call it “Best Available Science.” I prefer to recognize it as cherry picking what best fits the plan of garnering monies and promoting agendas. However, perhaps we can call efforts in making decisions in wildlife management as best available guessing.
Case in point: In an area of Connecticut officials are setting up study areas in hopes of learning more about the best ways in which to reduce or eliminate ticks that carry Lyme disease. It seems that there is some disagreement over how many deer live in the area.
The “official” counting method has determined that within the four study areas, there are approximately 29 to 30 deer per square mile – a high amount when it is considered that the management goal is around 10 deer per square mile. However, an independent effort at counting deer, has determined there to be 7.42 deer per square mile.
Is this significant? Well, when you consider that the effort to control ticks has evolved into reducing the number of deer to accomplish that task, I think it might be safe to say that those differences of estimated deer populations are highly significant and detrimental to arriving at reliable data from any study.
Bill Hyatt, bureau chief of the bureau of natural resources for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), said, “The counts we’ve been doing are accurate to the level we need them to be.” I’m not sure I understand that statement. Two things that scientific studies depend on are constants (control) and accurate data from within the control area. Without these how reliable does any study become?
If a proposed theory is that the density of the population of deer is a driving factor behind the spread of Lyme disease, it only seems prudent that a count of deer must be highly accurate and not “accurate to the level we need” it to be. To make that statement, in my mind, is saying that deer densities from two different counts showing a wide disparity in numbers isn’t an issue of concern. I think it should be. There are other influencing factors that can become part of the overall equation depending up deer densities to begin with. Are those being calculated? How could it be if they don’t know the population density to begin with?
To further complicate this study and effort, in addition to having to question any results determined from this study, are the results of recent studies that birds may be the biggest factor of all in the spread of ticks that carry Lyme disease. Can you accurately determine the effect of deer on the spread of Lyme disease if birds within these four study areas are contributing to the spread?
We all must question whether or not best available science is being used here in making decisions in wildlife management and disease control. If methods used to count deer end up with such vast differences in outcomes, then how can any method be anything more than best available guessing? Or is this another one of those studies whose main purpose is to grab grant monies and/or tax dollars to keep people employed with the government?
I got a chuckle out of reading this article this morning in the Bangor Daily News. The article was about how the town of Falmouth, Maine was going to harvest a certain amount of timber from a town-owned parcel of land – the Woods Road Community Forest. The purpose? “to help out wildlife, Larrivee said, particularly deer.”
Don’t get me wrong. I think helping out wildlife is a good thing…to a point. I have also lived and worked in Maine long enough to have seen hungry deer in the winter time coming out of the forest and munching on the tops of trees, minutes after they have been dropped by loggers. The hungry animals will stay and feed while loggers run their chainsaws, skidders and other power equipment, mostly unfazed.
I chuckled over a couple of things, both not that obvious. Evidently there exists the need to change the narrative in order to justify cutting down trees. I mean, who could argue that destroying trees to save animals isn’t the right thing to do?
We live in a time when saving plants and animals takes precedent over saving humans. Some might disagree with that but it can be easily seen once one removes their heads from certain hiding locations. I suppose that should the town of Falmouth decide it would be best forestry practice to “selectively cut” trees from the forest, there would be opposition from Gaia worshipers. However, if the purpose or “goal” as is stated in the linked-to article is to “help out the wildlife” who dares to complain about that?
The other issue is the mild attempt to humanize the hungry deer issue, I would guess to help substantiate the narrative shift. It is written here that the deer are “very, very hungry” because they are eating evergreen browse. I would have to be hungry too before I’d eat balsam fir and hemlock browse. But, then again, I’m not a deer…am I? In normal winters, it’s what deer eat. Deer enter into a biological state in which what they put in their stomachs is really not for nutritional value but to stop the hunger pangs. This is not unlike humans eating many “foods” these days.
And I guess this is not a “normal” winter and some just feel the need to “help” starving deer…or do they? Is this really about helping hungry deer? I mean really? The article at the end says, “The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife requires a harvest there every 10 years.”
Oh, that’s why they are cutting some trees. Just checking.
I guess the narrative of “it’s for the children” doesn’t cut it so much anymore.
Save the animals!
I’m glad we have the terminology down pat. Hunting evidently is bad. Systematic slaughtering of deer, while luring them to bait, is good, providing the corporate-fascist government runs the “program” and the socialist-communist society approve. I think it was bad to hunt and kill deer until “the habitat destroyed”, “unhealthy”, “not enough food”, “particularly stressed”, “deep snow”, “more frequently seen”, “both alive and dead”, “18,000 deer-vehicle accidents”, “deer-vehicle accidents”.
Hunting bad! Deer Removal Program good! The only thing good about it is the food isn’t being wasted; or at least that is what is being told to us.