22 Feb 2010, 4:04pm
Homo sapiens Wolves
by admin

Maine Residents Are Told To Learn To Live With Coyotes

by Tom Remington, Black Bear Blog, February 22, 2010 [here]

As citizens gathered in Otisfield, Maine, a small, quiet Western Maine community, authorities handled concerns from the town’s residents about as well as one might expect these days. They were told coyotes don’t bother people, that rabbit populations were low and that it was mating season. Combine that with the ever present blame that it’s the people’s fault for… for… for… well, living, and what did the people learn?

Here’s some short quips on what people were told:

“they can learn to coexist with the varmints.”

“Eradication of coyotes in Maine is impossible”

“keep the animal wild and to support the protection of coyotes”

“not feed coyotes”

“coyotes going after large animals was very unusual”

“there is little game wardens can do”

“I don’t believe there’s anything else we can do. It’s up to you folk,”

“safe to go out into the woods, despite the coyote population.”

“You don’t have to worry about coyotes chasing you out of the woods for a meal. It’s just not going to happen.”

Oh, my! Residents deserve to be told something better than that. The coyotes that are prevalent in Maine are larger than what most people picture in their minds when they think of coyotes. The cartoon Roadrunner comes to mind. The reason for that is that it has been readily established that Maine coyotes have wolf genes in them. The wolf gene doesn’t just add size to the animal. It creates in them a different killing instinct and thus Maine’s coyotes are readily taking on larger animals, i.e. deer, horses and cows.

Telling people to “keep the animal wild” is really kind of a silly notion that by not feeding, having pets outside, growing livestock, putting up bird feeders and doing what most Mainers do in the course of their lives will somehow keep a coyote “wild”. I’m not even sure what that means. A coyote is driven by instinct and the forces of nature. If a coyote gets hungry it goes and searches for food. Not unlike the couch potato watching a football game, when he heads to the kitchen looking for food, if he can’t find it, he may have to jump in his car and head for the nearest convenience store.

Talk about passing the buck! “There is little game wardens can do”? Seriously? Seems as though I was reading recently a story of how a couple wardens in far Northern Maine were shooting about every coyote they saw and were told to stop by their superiors. This is an anecdotal reference as I cannot confirm the story but stating there is nothing wardens can do is a cop out. Did someone not get the message to the Maine Warden Service that Maine has a serious deer management problem and coyotes are part of that problem?

As hunters and trappers began complaining to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife about coyotes, the response was quite similar. They were told if they didn’t like the coyotes go kill them. As didn’t happen in this meeting in Otisfield, it would have been nice had a spokesperson for MDIFW or the Maine Warden Service simply stated that they were fully aware of the problem and was working on remedies BUT in the meantime we would like your help. That would go a long ways instead of hiding behind half truths.

It is time to change up the repeated mantra that it is rare that coyotes attack large animals. It is not rare and residents should be told that it is increasing. Poorly managed wildlife creates situations where too many predators can destroy an ecosystem in short order. If an area becomes overrun with coyotes and they’ve cleaned up the turkeys, grouse, rabbits, mice, moles, birds, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, etc., it’s time they headed for the nearest convenience store, which might just be your back yard. Telling people it is rare is misinforming and does nothing to educate the people so they will know what needs to be done to protect themselves and their property.

And as always we hear the same claim that it is completely safe to go into the woods. I wonder if Taylor Mitchell’s family would agree with, “You don’t have to worry about coyotes chasing you out of the woods for a meal. It’s just not going to happen.” Taylor Mitchell was a very young girl and promising musician who was attacked and killed by coyotes while hiking in Nova Scotia this past fall. … [more]



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