In some states if a domestic dog chases a deer, it can be shot and the owner fined. In North Dakota during a recent hard winter, a state wildlife official warned coyote hunters using snowmobiles not to chase them through wooded areas or dense cattails because it might scare, stress, or harass wildlife. Coyotes, their advocates say, are wildlife too. Why are predators capriciously put into a special category of disdain as if they are not?
A huge row exists over whether the use of hounds to chase non-avian wildlife is ethical and those who do it say carnivores are so elusive they'd never be able to kill them. California recently outlawed the use of hounds to hunt bears by statute, over the objections of local houndsmen and their organizations.
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In other states, hounds can be turned loose to run cougars and bears merely for practice before hunting season begins. Moreover, in Wyoming, if a pack of hounds, say, tangles with a female grizzly bear and cubs, and the bear tears into the dog, can the houndsman then kill the bear, arguing it was done in defense of personal property? When I asked Wyoming Chief Game Warden Nesvik that question, he said any incident would be approached on a case by case basis. It is legal in Wyoming to run hounds in portions of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem known to be inhabited by grizzlies.
Another ethical, controversial gray area involves bear baiting. Here, stinky putrid baits—the smellier the better— are put out to create artificial bear feeding stations which lure bruins in so they can be easily killed as a hunter lies in wait. There are dozens of videos on social media showing hunters—including sometimes sub-teenage kids— shooting bears literally over barrels at feeding stations from mere feet away.
It runs directly counter to the widely-circulated slogan of ethics—"a fed bear is a dead bear"— that is invoked by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in its public education efforts.
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While Montana prohibits black bear baiting because it is deemed inconsistent with fair chase and hazardous, Wyoming allows it, including in parts of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem known to be inhabited by grizzlies. Nesvik told me that if a black bear hunter sees a grizzly frequenting a bait station, the person must immediately stop the feeding and report it to the Game and Fish Department.
Nesvik said coyote-killing contests also fall under the purview of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, whose political appointees made by the governor and, arguably without exception, have advanced the interests of livestock as much as wildlife.. But this was not a music festival held in celebration of wildlife predators. Lethally targeted were wolves, coyotes and bobcats in an event billed as providing family entertainment and helping kids get interested in hunting.
Delving into the history of predator-killing contests, Fox says she believes the first official one was held in in Chandler, Arizona outside of Phoenix. Why does that say? As you read these words, another new derby, "The United States Predator Challenge" is getting underway.
The event involves two-man hunting teams yes, it specifically says teams of men traveling to two of three different regions of the country and killing as many coyotes as possible. Those who kill the most will win tournament prizes, including a champion belt buckle Contestants can kill coyotes on both public and private lands, which adds to the controversy—federal land agencies like the Bureau of Land Management often directly approve the events or they condone them via indifference.
One of the implicit arguments made by organizers of the "Predator Challenge" is that participants will be aiding the cause of reducing predator numbers so that game animals can thrive. Their collective research indicates that haphazard killing and wounding foments chaos in the social order of wolves and coyotes and can make predator conflicts worse. Also cited is a conclusion reached by the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission in that examined the contention as it put together a state coyote management plan and delivered its findings in a report:. Most of these strategies focus on implementing non-lethal techniques or, if necessary, removing individual problem coyotes.
Strategies to address impacts of coyotes on other wildlife likely will require management actions directed at the species of interest rather than coyotes e. Flier for an upcoming predator-killing derby in Salmon, Idaho that is being touted as a fundraiser for cancer victims. Fox called it was reprehensible that charity to help seriously ill people was being used to justify its purpose. Phillips, who hunts deer and elk, was one of the scientists hand-picked to help complete the restoration of wolves to Yellowstone National Park.
Predator killing contests turn that on its head. When is needless, thoughtless killing ever justified? I would suppose that most of the people who participate in these contests of slaughter would consider themselves to be people of faith. What God worth worshipping would find it acceptable for His or Her followers to kill Her creation needlessly, senselessly and often out of hatred?
Are these contests indicative of the values we want to be emulating for our kids? Phillips said that during the Montana legislative session he intends to introduce a bill that would outlaw predator-killing contests in his state. It happens over and over. He doubts that few prairie dog gunners realize that the animals, along with bison, are keystone species, the foundations for more than different animals important to biodiversity on the American prairie.
To them, it's just target practice. Looking south across the state line, Phillips says the least Wyoming could do with wolves is make them a game species across the entire state, sell licenses to support scientific research into animal population the same way it does with elk, deer, pronghorn and other species.
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My lord, do they want to be a person standing at the Pearly Gates seeking their entrance and having to argue with God about their decision to treat these animals with such cruelty and no rational justification to back it up? Wyoming Game and Fish with all big game species has management objectives, closely monitors populations and sets seasons. State biologists admit they really no idea how many wolves are being extinguished in 85 percent of Wyoming where they are classified as predators. Wolves there don't count toward the state's promise to maintain a minimum population.https://agendapop.cl/wp-content/spouse/wylus-aplicacion-para.php
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Notably, there are also zones in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem where the number of grizzlies don't count in the state's promise to maintain a viable population. Wyoming has a grudge against the federal government and environmental groups for bringing wolves back and the fact that it doesn't extend them game status over all the state puts them in violation with the spirit of the North American Model, critics say.
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And now with Chronic Wasting Disease rapidly expanding, and s cientists pointing out the role predators can play in slowing the spread of disease , Wyoming not only continues to artificially feed elk but it has an aggressive policy to keep wolves at the lowest numbers. It's out of step with where it needs to be. In the late s, the late Stephen Kellert, a professor at Yale University, gained renown for gauging public attitudes about the human experience in nature. One of his studies looked at feelings people had toward different animals. He interviewed people and identified a stigma toward wolves and coyotes.
Theodore Roosevelt was a product of his time. He may have been a founding father of the North American Model, but modern ecologists say he had his own blind spots with ecological thinking—in particular his belief that predators had to be erased to maintain healthy big game herds. John Laundre, a carnivore biologist who conducted field research on mountain lions for renowned researcher Dr.
Laundre criticizes the introduction of exotic species to provide huntable fare and more trophy targets when wildlife managers know they compete with native wildlife, cause habitat damage such as the case of wild boar, and sometimes serve as disease carriers. Laundre directs his harshest words toward hunters and hunting groups that focus on helping animals good for the dinner table, yet discount the role predators play in regulating ecosystems, including, as in the case of Chronic Wasting Disease, limiting the spread of disease.
Time after time, it has been demonstrated that removal of predators leads to ecological destruction. And returning herbivores without their predators, an ecological crime, a crime, hunters repeatedly commit, most recently, in the eastern U. Laundre is referencing the reintroduction of elk to old haunts east of the Mississippi River and allowing whitetail deer populations linked to a corresponding abundance of tick-related illness to explode while continuing to aggressively target coyotes, foxes and pulling the plug on red wolf recovery.
Laundre says the exalted legacy of TR is a mixed bag. Posewitz convinced that Roosevelt, had he lived long enough into the 20 th century and availed himself to science, would have evolved his thinking about the role of predators the same as pioneering ecologist Aldo Leopold did. Where Laundre and Posewitz agree passionately is that Roosevelt would not allow his name, nor the North American Model, to be invoked to justify predator-killing contests.
The controversy surrounding delisting of the Greater Yellowstone grizzly population is a prime timely example. Still, Wyoming and its seven-member Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously to let 22 bears be killed; they were spared by Judge Christensen's ruling in autumn But in my experience killing trophy animals turns the public against all hunting. It brings out the worst in sportsmen and encourages illegal and unethical activity. The sport killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe by a bow hunter from Minnesota ignited a firestorm about the ethics of trophy hunting.
In the U. Concern for the fate of and her cubs typified the huge public opposition to Wyoming's proposed sport hunt of 22 grizzlies, the first in the state in 44 years. Ultimately, the hunt was cancelled in autumn after a federal district judge ordered the Greater Yellowstone grizzly population be restored to protection under the Endangered Species Act.
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It set off a wave of anger in Wyoming where antagonism toward predators among rural folk is deep and pervasive. Photo of Grizzly courtesy Thomas D. Photo of Cecil courtesy Wikipedia.