Hunted animals win a few rounds

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 1999:

EAGLE, Colorado– –
USDA Wildlife Services, on April
8 withdrew a Bureau of Land
Management-approved plan to
strafe coyotes for five months at
the Castle Peaks Wilderness Study
Area near Eagle, Colorado.
USDA Wildlife Services,
formerly called Animal
Damage Control, proposed the
coyote killing on behalf of a
rancher who claims to have lost
2,000 lambs to coyotes since 1991.
But the agency backed off when
the Aspen Wilderness Workshop,
the Colorado Wilderness Network,
and the activist group Sinapu
pointed out that federal rules
require USDA Wildlife Services to
identify specific animals when
doing predator control in designated
wilderness research zones.

Annoyed that the feds
are no longer killing coyotes at
quite the 100,000-per-year pace of
past decades, rural legislators in at
least four states pushed bills this
spring to encourage state agencies
and sport hunters to kill more––
despite the growing mountain of
research which confirms that highvolume
coyote-killing tends to
stimulate coyote reproduction
more than it prevents predation.
Wyoming adopted legislation
forming a state Animal
Damage Management Board consisting
of the heads of the state
Agriculture and Game and Fish
departments, a sheep rancher, a
cattle rancher, a USDA official,
two representives of hunting
groups, one urban resident, and a
member of the Wyoming Game
and Fish Commission, with a budget
of $150,000 appropriated from
the state general fund.
Baca County, Colorado,
in January offered a bounty of
$7.50 apiece on coyotes. More
than 100 bounty payments were
claimed within three weeks.
The New York Department
of Environmental Conservation
asked the New York state
legislature to open the annual coyote
season on October 1, a month
earlier than before, by demand of
hunters who blame coyotes for
thinning deer herds––even though
hunters and trappers are now
killing 2,500 coyotes a year in
New York, up from under 1,000 a
year before 1990. This came after
New York hunters killed a record
121,911 bucks in 1998, and
230,758 total deer, the secondhighest
number ever. At that,
more than 30% of the territory
open to hunting still contained
more deer than the DEC-recommended
levels and 60% were at
the recommended levels.
Complaints from deer
hunters likewise motivated Maine
legislators to propose a four-month
coyote snaring season, during
which unlimited numbers of snares
could be set, with the trap-checking
requirement rolled back from
once every 24 hours to once every
72 hours. Maine hunters killed
their highest number of deer since
1980 in 1997, and the Maine herd
is believed to be still growing.
The most bizarre recent
legislative proposals to stop
alleged wildlife depredation, however,
came from Louisiana,
where HB 1083, introduced by
state representative Bryant
Hammett, would allow hunters to
jacklight beavers, and SB 349,
introduced by state senator Chris
Ullo, would allow the use of dogs
to hunt nutria.
Together, the bills could
constitute a de facto bill of rights
for poachers, since any would-be
deer jacker caught without actual
possession of a deer could claim
he was out to shoot beaver, and
anyone caught running deer with
dogs out of season could claim he
was after nutria.
went to press, HB 1083 had
cleared the state house natural
resources committee, and was
before the full house. A companion
bill to SB 349 had already
been approved by the house.

Hunters & sheep
bill to roll back puma protections
which were approved by
California voters in 1991 failed on
April 12 to clear the California
state assembly committee on
water, parks, and wildlife.
Authored by assembly member
Rico Oller (R-San Andreas), and
pushed by sheep hunters, the bill
died, said Associated Press writer
Jennifer Kerr, because Oller
“refused to narrow the bill to help
only the bighorn sheep he said
were the bill’s target.”
The sheep in question,
the Sierra Nevada bighorn herd,
were the herd from which came
the breeding stock used in sheep
reintroduction programs throughout
the west. The programs are
heavily underwritten by a variety
of organizations that promote trophy
hunting and raise funds for
wildlife management by auctioning
off permits to shoot sheep.
Many of the reintroduced herds
have faltered. The Sierra Nevada
herd, meanwhile, has declined to
98 members. The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service listed the Sierra
Nevada bighorn as an endangered
species on April 20, which will
allow wildlife agents to kill specific
pumas who attack the herd.
The reintroduced Arizona
bighorn herd has fallen from a
high of 250 sheep to about 60-65
at present. On April 23 the
Arizona Game and Fish Com-mission
authorized killing up to 12
pumas to protect the sheep.

Hunting shorts
Canadian hunters won
a court case in Toronto on April
15, but didn’t celebrate. Federal
judge Frederick Gibson ruled that
hunters may kill as many as
70,000 snow geese this spring, as
part of a joint U.S./Canadian
scheme to cut the North American
snow goose population by 50% in
five years. Gibson added, however,
that hunters may not shoot
lookalike Ross’s geese, of whom
there are only about 50,000.
Distinguishing one from the other
on the wing is nearly impossible.
The 360-member Wisconsin
Conservation Council,
representing hunters and fishers as
an advisory body to the state
Natural Resources Board, on
April 14 asked that hunting seasons
be opened on sandhill cranes
and mourning doves.
The seven-member
Oregon Fish and Wildlife
Commission voted unanimously
to ban so-called canned hunts on
April 22, a week after state house
agriculture and forestry chair
Larry Wells (R-Jefferson) killed
legislation to that effect. Introduced
by Ryan Deckert ( D –
Beaverton), the anti-canned hunt
bill reportedly was favored by
70% of the Oregon electorate.
Clark Couch, owner of the only
known canned hunt in Oregon,
indicated that he would continue
to offer hunts of animals such as
bison who are classed as livestock,
not wildlife, and therefore fall
outside of O/FWC jurisdiction.
Growth of canned
hunting in the U.S. seems to
have slowed since the early 1990s
––largely due to increased competition
from Africa and the former
Soviet Union. The administrators
of the cash-strapped Pribaikalsky
National Park, situated along the
shores of Lake Baikal in Siberia,
on April 10 proposed to get into
the action by offering lynx, brown
bears, bison, sable, and even the
endangered nerpa freshwater seal
to trophy hunters with a “kill or
your money back” guarantee.
The Arizona Game and
Fish Commission is to decide
after a public comment period
expires on June 30 between either
banning “any organized hunting
contest for killing predatory animals,
furbearing animals, or
nongame mammals,” and two different
strategies for regulating
such events.
The Oklahoma legislat
u r e is meanwhile reportedly
expected to pass a bill clarifying
the status of coonhunting contests,
buck pools, and “varmint shoots,”
after state attorney general D r e w
Edmondson scared organizers and
participants with a legal opinion
that they could constitute illegal
gambling. Edmondson later backtracked
and said his legal opinion
was misread and misreported.

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