July 19, 2019

Predator Prey Relationships For the Making

To go along with the age old saying that statistics prove that statistics can prove anything, the same is evident when it comes to predator/prey relationships. Simply pick the “expert” advice and opinions from those who have theories and “suggestions” that, when cherry-picked appropriately, will neatly fit into an agenda-driven narrative, and you have an instant predator/prey relationship that works for you.

Recently I was reading what is really a very ignorantly compiled bit of broad-brushed nonsense about how coyote control doesn’t work (for the purpose of providing enough deer for hunting). Void of any specific information of just how any sort of coyote control was, is, or might be implemented (it is crucial in attempting to make determinations that result in such claims as “don’t work”) to make the statement that coyote control doesn’t work is dishonest at best.

Not to belabor the issue of whether or not coyote control works or doesn’t work, perhaps missing from the writer’s obvious hatred for those who choose to hunt and eat natural food, is the simple fact that no example of whether coyote control works, or is even needed, is ever considered before, during, or after ranting on about a call for protection of large predators as though it is something that should never be done and by not doing it everything lives in perfect harmony. What nonsense. And it’s so tiring to be subjected to the same nonsense repeatedly.

This morning I was reading a Ph.D. college thesis where a person chose to study the predator/prey relationship between coyotes and whitetail deer in the Chicago area. The Abstract tells us a few very important things. First, that coyotes were the cause of 77.8% of whitetail deer fawn mortality. Second, that there are so many coyotes and deer in this study area that habitats unavoidably overlap, and three, coyote seem to prefer to prey mostly on fawn deer and not adult deer.

It would be ridiculous to make any kind of suggestion about whether coyote control would work or not work in this situation or for the reason anyone might suggest coyote control. As far as hunting goes, if there are this many deer, what coyotes do to only the deer herd is probably immaterial. There may be other collateral damage that is not being considered.

Another example of why broad-brushed accusations and conclusions are ignorant is the fact that an agenda-driven person might use this thesis to prove that coyotes only prey on fawn deer. In this case, because of an overblown deer population and the fact that coyotes, like all large predators, are opportunistic hunters, i.e. that they simply kill and eat the most easily attained prey. In this case, it is generally easier to take down a fawn deer than an adult deer.

In a different scenario, one that could very easily be found on the Maine landscape, where in much of the state there is a definite scarcity of deer and an abundance of coyotes, a hungry coyote or pack of coyotes can and do take down the biggest and healthiest of adult deer.

To claim predator control doesn’t work, based on some hyped up theory about reproductive behavior response, reveals a person’s desire to promote their own ideology at the expense of denying others the opportunity to promote surplus game management for consumptive use, a use that has been around since the beginning of time and this uncalled for totalitarian action coming at a time when people are in quest of natural, more healthy, food.

The writer who claims that predator control doesn’t work, was pointing a finger at how Maine manages its deer herd which includes a degree of coyote control. Again, void of specificity and an understanding of how, when, and where predator control would be effective, the author chooses to wrongfully claim that control doesn’t work.

In Maine’s case, much of the coyote control takes place during winter, in deer wintering areas, where coyotes often make those areas blood baths. Whether there’s any so-called reproductive behavioral response in coyotes to run out and have more pups to replace those taken during control actions, matters little. It is known and understood that any effective control must be ongoing and targeted, thus the reason the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) implements the coyote control.

The foundation of the call for coyote control in Maine is based upon the fact that, unlike the Chicago region, much of Maine has a very scarce deer population. Common sense, often lacking these days, should tell us that deer venison on the table is of a higher value to the consumer than a nasty, disease carrying wild dog. I, like many others, would like to improve our odds of filling our freezers for the winter, and thus we call for targeted coyote control in deer wintering areas in order to assist in the management of a few more deer. I would like to take the opportunity to say that for many in Maine, deer meat is an essential to providing sustenance. In addition, I would like to be able to choose to hunt deer, bear, and moose as a healthy alternative to store-bought meat.

If Maine had, statewide, the same deer density as is found in portions of Central Maine, coyote mortality on deer would mostly go unnoticed. Such is not the case.

Because we live in a post normal existence, where science is about predetermined outcomes that fit agendas and drive narratives, anyone can pick and choose theories, perspectives, and suggestions to support any claim they wish. In this case: Coyote control doesn’t work.

In the same vein, I can claim that coyote control does work when it is applied scientifically in those regions where it becomes necessary to sustain a deer population.

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Intensive Management in Alaska

From the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Harvesting wild game is extremely important to many Alaskan families. Participating in the hunt and sharing the bounty of economical, wild-grown meat are long-standing traditions.

The Alaska Legislature recognized the importance of wild game meat to Alaskans when it passed the Intensive Management Law in 1994. This law requires the Alaska Board of Game to identify moose, caribou, and deer populations that are especially important food sources for Alaskans and to insure that these populations remain large enough to allow for adequate and sustained harvest.

If the selected moose, caribou, or deer populations drop below what the Board of Game (Board) determines is needed to meet people’s needs, the Board directs the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) to undertake intensive management of that population. Intensive management is a process that starts with investigating the causes of low moose, caribou, or deer numbers, and then involves steps to increase their numbers. This can include restricting hunting seasons and bag limits, improving habitat, and predation control.

ADF&G is committed to maintaining healthy populations of all our resources, including moose, caribou, deer, wolves, and bears. The department will continue to manage Alaska’s wildlife populations with the health of all wildlife, sustainable harvests, and conservation as our guiding principles.

Understanding Predator Management

Wolves and bears are very effective and efficient predators on caribou, moose, deer, and other wildlife. In most of Alaska, humans also rely on the same species for food. Predators often kill more than 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die during an average year, while humans take less than 10 percent. In much of the state, predation holds prey populations at levels far below what could be supported by the habitat in the area. Predation is an important part of the ecosystem, and all ADF&G management programs, including control programs, are designed to sustain predator populations in the future.

General Information

Press Releases

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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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Poliquin supports, Pingree opposes bill to allow killing of denning wolves and bears in Alaska refuges

*Editor’s Note* – I find it interesting the name of this joint resolution is called “Killing Baby Animals in Alaska Act.” Also, the information provided in the article that I have linked to is incorrect – or should I say it is untruthful. If Congress can cede authority to manage animals on wildlife refuges to the states, they can just as easily take it away. Making laws to take freedom and rights from everyone is what they do best. The idea of lifting this ban is to not take away needed tools to manage and control these large predators. Those with knowledge understand that you don’t “manage” large predators. They have to be controlled at all times and should never receive blanket protection.

“The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a joint resolution (H.J. res 69 aka the Killing Baby Animals in Alaska Act) that would allow the killing of wolf pups and bear cubs, and their mothers, in their dens on National Wildlife Refuge lands in Alaska. The vote was 225 to 193.”<<<Read More>>>

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Biggest Coyote/Deer Study Ongoing

*Editor’s Note* – In the teaser I placed just below, the author of the article about the relationship between coyotes in the East and deer, says, “Shooting the occasional coyote really makes no difference in what happens to the deer herd.” In the context of the article the “occasional” coyote is described as a “transient” coyote, i.e. one looking to establish a new territory. I have to somewhat disagree with this statement. I understand the dynamics of “resident” coyotes versus “transient” coyotes, but to state that shooting a transient coyote makes no difference in what happens to the deer herd is not completely an accurate or honest statement. It would make sense if all that was being targeted were transient coyotes, but such is not the case. While targeting the resident crop of coyotes is probably more effective at protecting a local deer herd, stopping a transient from continuing its search for another territory to take over certainly has its benefits. Perhaps not a direct effect but nonetheless it could slow down or stop the progression of more coyotes in more places.

Regardless, all this reminds me of what Dr. Val Geist, in 1994, told the annual Southeast Deer Study Group meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia, as they were facing perceived problems of what to do about too many deer. Geist told them, “Enjoy your problem while it lasts, because the coyote is coming. Once he’s here, you’ll miss your deer problems.”

“Resident coyotes, Chamberlain observed, have relatively small home ranges of 2 to 25 miles. Transients, on the other hand, may roam 150 miles, presumably looking for a home range to open up. Once a resident coyote dies, a transient will settle in and claim the territory within a matter of weeks. This helps explain why trapping efforts weren’t working. “For every 10 coyotes you remove, three were just passing through,” Chamberlain says. “And if you’re removing transients, you’re not really having any effect.” Shooting the occasional coyote really makes no difference in what happens to the deer herd.”<<<Read More>>>

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As Part of a 3-Year Study, Colorado will kill bears and lions to see if it will boost deer herds

*Editor’s Note* – I changed the headline for this story to one that is quite a bit more honest as it pertains to what is actually going on in Colorado. Reading the article that is in the link, will give you understanding as to what I mean.

“We remain well below where we would like to be in terms of overall mule deer numbers,” said Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde. “There is no one reason and no silver bullet solution to this problem, but many in the public identified predator management as one factor that could yield positive results, and we agree.”<<<Read More>>>

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Rational Predator Control for Sensible Wildlife Management

Steve Alder, executive director of Idaho for Wildlife, was quoted in the Lewiston Tribune:

Steve Alder of Lewiston, executive director of Idaho For Wildlife, said elk have no other relief from wolves in remote areas such as the Lolo zone. He contends wolves in areas closer to rural populations are exposed to higher hunting pressure and are also killed when they prey on livestock.

“Anywhere in the state we have backcountry areas, the elk numbers have plummeted,” he said. “We can have a lot of nothing, or we can do control measures to have a few elk and a few wolves.”

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Hunter gives high praise to West Forks hunting lodge

I am an 80-year-old deer hunter, and I remember when there were deer in Maine, especially up north, like these 200 pounds and up. I have many 200-plus patches and two beauties, 8-point and 10-point, on my wall. Then came the coyote problem, which was never addressed or recognized by the fish and game department. Before 1985, we did not see a coyote track any where up north. Then they appeared, and the deer disappeared.

Source: Hunter gives high praise to West Forks hunting lodge – Central Maine

WestForks

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Bill Hoppe: Eye of the Hunter (Video)

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Maine’s Deer Harvest Data Missing, Something Going on With Moose?

The last of the Maine deer hunting for 2013 ended on December 13, 2013. It is now March 11, 2014 and not one breath of information coming out of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) about harvest data. And as is always the case, the longer we wait the more reason we have to believe there must be something to hide. I mean seriously, how long can it take? Or am I the only one who cares enough about factual information to make my own assessments as to what is and what is not going on with the state’s deer and deer management (or lack thereof)? After all, there was all this pre-season hype about a restored and surging deer herd with projected increases in deer harvest expected.

Maine counts about 20,000 deer of late, most all of that information being collected from tagging stations spread out across the state. I hate to make this comparison but New Jersey counted just shy of 50,000 tagged deer in their harvest and the last of their deer hunting, winter bow, didn’t end until January 31, 2014.

Not to pick just on the deer harvest, where’s Maine’s bear harvest data? Gee, the newspapers are always full of bear stories, of the great work the bear biologists are doing studying bears etc. but no bear harvest data.

So what’s new with whitetail deer management in Maine? Nothing, I guess, unless it’s a really well kept secret. Hoping for some more serious global warming I guess. And where’s that increased communication we were promised in Maine’s Plan for Deer?

There is some good news about deer management coming from Downeast Maine. Sorry, but this management has nothing to do with MDIFW. Downeast, they kill coyotes, they kill bears, they kill bobcats, that kill deer. Oh, don’t worry. They aren’t going to kill all the coyotes, bears and bobcats. They just MANAGE them. Instead they are going to prevent the extirpation of whitetail deer.

Unofficial reports I have just received show deer harvest numbers are great. Coyote tracks and other signs are at minimum levels compared with previous years and with a spring bear hunt on Indian Reservation lands, over 50 bears were taken last year.

And by the way, with a continued abundance of snowshoe hare, the Canada lynx, supposedly in danger of extirpation, is thriving Downeast.

But there is something going on with moose Downeast. One observer says he doesn’t believe it to be winter ticks, as the usual signs of tick infestation aren’t showing up.

I also have an unconfirmed report that 4 of the 40 moose officials collared, as part of their moose study, have already died. I believe those 4 dead moose were yearlings. No cause given yet but it is being reported that when those 4 moose were collared, officials knew they were sick then. But what were they sick with?

Maine has already determined how many moose permits they will issue for the 2014 hunt by lottery. Was this decision made knowing that there may be disease running its course? Should MDIFW reconsider moose permit allotments. If only there was better communication. I think sportsmen and others would be more concerned if they actually knew what was going on. Or maybe that’s the plan.

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