I am writing as a hunter and outdoorsman concerned with the future of sporting activities in Maine. Hunters and trappers have enough image problems without making things worse for ourselves.
In Deirdre Fleming’s Jan. 8 BDN article on coyote snaring, Dave Tobey is quoted as saying, “There definitely is a correlation between predator control and what you get from that.” The correlation is that the more we hate and persecute predators and the less we try to live with them, the more support we give to the people who would ban the traditions of hunting and trapping altogether. Tobey bases his conclusion on a single-season, non-scientific survey he did. However, he didn’t explain how he managed to document that the same number of hunters spent the same number of hours hunting the following year. Neither did he account for differences in winter severity or the presence of snow for tracking. The only thing his study proves is that 17 bucks were tagged one year and 30 were tagged the next.
I have had conversations with Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Commissioner Lee Perry and Ken Elowe, director of the Bureau of Resource Management at IF&W. I have asked for the studies that support snaring. There are none. The program has never been studied for effectiveness nor were any records kept. The only data related to it shows how frequently the animals caught suffer prolonged and agonizing deaths. Any professional studies performed elsewhere indicate coyote control is an ineffective waste of time and money.
On Jan. 7, Elowe told the Legislature’s Fish and Wildlife Committee that reducing coyote populations was physically impossible and not feasible. Why do we have a program that has no basis in science, causes unnecessary harm to other species, wastes scarce public money and degrades the already suffering image of sportsmen in Maine by inflicting cruel deaths on animals but achieves no lasting benefit to any wildlife species?