August 18, 2019

Government Sponsored Coyote Control vs. Private Sponsored Coyote Control

Recently I have received two separate reports from two different individuals/groups about coyote control in Maine. Even though state officials still cringe at the thoughts of actually doing something about killing coyotes to save deer, some effort to control those coyotes around deer wintering areas is seeing some success.

I received one report, which I cannot say is an “official” report from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), that says that the government has budgeted $50,000 for predator control. At the time the email was sent, expenditures from the $50,000 totaled $8,500. This expense resulted in the taking of 50 coyotes by paid hunters and 35 by volunteers (I assume meaning they helped out but didn’t get paid).

The coyote control program is targeting 9 deer wintering areas – Some in Northern Maine, one in Northwestern Maine and a couple downeast.

A quick working of some simple math tells us that, including the coyotes killed by “volunteers”, the cost is $100.00 per coyote kill.

We can compare this to a brief report I received from the Aroostook County Conservation Association that just completed a coyote killing contest. Private donations amounted to $3,280 for the contest. 149 coyotes were brought in and registered. Simple math tells us the cost per coyote was $22.00.

Not intending to mislead, let me say that the MDIFW’s program targets deer wintering yards, while the contest involves killing coyotes anywhere at anything…..legally.

I have also read another report that says that up until this point conditions on the ground and the timing of the winter season may not be prime for taking coyotes around deer wintering areas. One might expect the deer mortality by coyotes on deer would begin increasing as the winter wears on, the coyotes get hungrier and the deer weaker from the stresses of the cold and snow.

I’ll attempt to get data on this program and keep readers updated.

Tom Remington

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Commissioner Woodcock in Response to Open Letter

*Editor’s Note* On January 26, 2012 I sent an open letter to Maine’s Governor Paul LePage, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Chandler Woodcock and others concerning Maine’s ability through statute to control coyotes and other predators. Below is a copy of the email response I received this morning from the MDIFW commissioner’s office.

Dear Mr. Remington:

Your recent e-mail to Governor LePage has been forwarded to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife for response. In your message you discuss coyote control as it relates to the deer population in Northern, Eastern, and Western Maine. Specifically, you mentioned concerns about the Department’s ability to control coyotes in Maine. I would point out that in statute (Title 12, Sec 10053 (and Sec 10105), Sub 8 the Commissioner is authorized to initiate predation control. When the statutes were recodified there were changes made to improve clarity and eliminate duplication. The sections that you mentioned in your email were eliminated as part of that recodification effort. However, the Statutes in place clearly grant the Commissioner the authority to implement a predator control program.

In fact, the Department has implemented a predator control program in selected Deer Wintering Areas in Northern Maine. The Department is also continuing to work on implementing its Game Plan for Deer. At the same time we are working with the USFWS to get the Incidental Take Plan approved and in place for trapping. The Governors office is supportive of our efforts to address the issues related to the deer population in Northern, Eastern and Western Maine. We have been working with the Maine Forest Products Council, the Maine Department of Transportation and the Sportsmen Alliance of Maine among others to address the issues of Deer Wintering Shelter, Feeding of Deer, Car-Deer mortality, and predation on Deer. The overall solution to the problem requires our attention to multiple issues working in concert with many partners. There aren’t any simple answers and in the end our success will be gained by good old fashioned hard work with people from all over the State who care about the wildlife habitat and resources. We encourage you to participate in the efforts undertaken by the Department and these groups as we move forward. Information can be found on our website relating to these issues. Thank you for your interest and advocacy on behalf of the Wildlife Resources of the State of Maine.

Sincerely,
Chandler E. Woodcock
Commissioner

This morning I took the time to offer a response to Commissioner Woodcock:

Mr. Woodcock:

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to my open letter. I am fully aware of the existing laws and what they allow and do not allow, although I am not a legal expert trained in law interpretation. I also am aware and have been that you, as commissioner, hold a degree of authority for animal damage control and dealing with predation issues. That is really not the point here.

The recodification and legislative appeals process, in my humble opinion, did a bit more than, “improve clarity and eliminate duplication”.

Prior to the process of recodification and the legislative repeal of “Maine Coyote Control Program” (notice this is in capitals), the commissioner had the authority in the use of snaring under the guidelines provided by statute. We are of course, restricted by the Consent Decree.

There has to be serious discussion as to how Maine went from a coyote/predator control program, including the use of snares, to an outright ban on snaring Title 12, Section 12252 and the commissioner with authority to conduct animal damage control, with limited tools available, all through the process to, “improve clarity and eliminate duplication”.

However, I believe short of an investigation into this process by the Attorney General, on all other points I am beating a dead horse. At this point it appears the only help the State of Maine can get is approval of an Incidental Take Permit for Canada lynx that does not put any more restrictions on trapping that now already exist. What is being suggested by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would so restrict trapping it would effectively eliminate it. Where would this leave our Animal Damage Control?

Hoping for the best.

Tom Remington

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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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Dr. Valerius Geist: “…….Because the Coyote is Coming”

American Hunter magazine has an article they published back in November of 2010 called, “How Coyotes Affect Deer Herds”. The article tells that 16 years ago, in 1994, Dr. Valerius Geist, while attending the annual Southeast Deer Study Group meeting in Charlottesville, Virginia, said the following as it pertained to a perceived “problem” among wildlife managers in dealing with too large populations of whitetail deer.

“Enjoy your problem while it lasts, because the coyote is coming. Once he’s here, you’ll miss your deer problems.”

Dr. Geist’s crystal ball was pretty clear back then, as today many of these same wildlife managers now have coyote problems.

Today, there are new studies ongoing and some of the preliminary data is not only impressive but revealing things about the coyote that confirms what some biologists have suspected for a long time and that seasoned outdoor sportsmen have been seeing for a long time – coyotes are having a much bigger affect on whitetail deer herds than imagined.

One area of study is pointing researchers to conclude that coyotes don’t just randomly take out a deer fawn when the opportunity might present itself. As a matter of fact, data suggest the coyote is studying and learning the habits of the deer and are specifically targeting them for lunch and dinner.

This can further be supported by the research that shows that in one area where coyotes and deer intermingle, 75% of the deer fawns died before they reached the age of six months. Of those 75%, 85% were killed by coyotes.

Despite the new research information, skeptics continue to cry for more time and more studies to support this. Who can blame them? They’ve had so much bad information drilled into their heads for so long, I guess it’s going to take a long time, perhaps even a miracle to get them to change their way of thinking.

So, is this new study suggesting that where there are coyotes all the deer will eventually vanish? I don’t think so but it does now present another management issue of predator control. Not in all regions but in those where there is a problem, again facing a seemingly insurmountable task of convincing wildlife managers a shortage of deer might be the result of too many predators.

What will it take to reach that point? Perhaps first, we need to work on educating people that over-protection of a predator such as a wolf or a coyote is not a good thing. It was in Hank Fischer’s book, “Wolf Wars“, where he quoted Dr. L. David Mech. Mech is a Senior Scientist with the Biological Resources Division, U.S. Geological Survey and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology, and Ecology, Evolution and Behavior at the University of Minnesota, and considered by many to be the foremost authority of wolf behavior.

“The wolf’s repopulation of the northern parts of the lower forty-eight states . . . will stand as one of the primary conservation achievements of the twentieth century. Society will have come full circle and corrected its grave overreaction to its main mammalian competitor. Maybe not quite full circle. If we have learned anything from this ordeal, it is that the best way to ensure continued wolf survival is, ironically enough, not to protect wolves completely. If we carefully regulate wolf populations instead of overprotecting them, we can prevent a second wave of wolf hysteria, a backlash that could lead once again to persecution.”

Even Dr. Mech understood the many facets of the over-protection of wolves, including the one that much of the Northern Rockies is experiencing of a backlash of citizens wanting the wolf killed off. This, of course, the consequence of over-protection.

It would seem to make sense that where over-protection of one species, such as the wolf or coyote, is bad, so it goes with all predators and species. For Mech to suggest that over-protection of predators will ultimately harm the species, it would seem he would then have to disagree with the notion that wildlife is self regulating.

There’s a huge divide here that needs to be crossed. We need predator control and to accomplish that, it seems one object in the way is protection of species beyond what is good socially and scientifically. None of this consequently matters if we cannot successfully dispel the myth that nature will balance itself out.

Nothing short of a miracle is needed here.

Tom Remington

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