Lawsuit Challenges California’s Mismanagement of Commercial Trapping Program

September 13, 2017

Contact:

Jean Su, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 770-3187, jsu@biologicaldiversity.org
Camilla Fox, Project Coyote, (415) 690-0338, cfox@projectcoyote.org

Lawsuit Challenges California’s Mismanagement of Wildlife Trapping Program

Public Agencies Illegally Subsidize Private Profiteering Off
Fox, Coyote, Badger Pelts
 

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Project Coyote sued the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife today for improperly managing and illegally subsidizing the state’s commercial trapping program.

Thousands of coyotes, foxes, badgers and other fur-bearing animals are trapped each year in California so their pelts can be sold overseas. Today’s lawsuit notes that the two state agencies have illegally diverted as much as half a million dollars since 2013 to subsidize commercial fur trapping in California.

“Commercial trapping is a cruel, destructive practice that shouldn’t be subsidized by California taxpayers,” said attorney Jean Su, the Center’s associate conservation director. “It’s wrong that a handful of trappers slaughter our wildlife for private profit while the state foots the bill. These animals are far more valuable as essential species in California’s web of life than as skinned pelts shipped to Russia and China.”

In 2015, conservationists celebrated the Fish and Game Commission’s decision to ban the commercial trapping of bobcats, whose pelts are some of the most lucrative on the international fur market. But more than a dozen other furbearing animals still experience cruel trapping under the state’s mismanaged trapping program.

California law requires that the states’s costs of managing a commercial trapping program must be fully recovered through trapping license fees. The state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on wardens, biologists and administrators to oversee and enforce trapping regulations, yet license fees cover only a tiny fraction of the program’s total costs. Taxpayers foot the bill for the shortfall.

Since the fee-recovery mandate became effective in2013, the commission and the fish and wildlife department have illegally diverted upwards of half a million dollars to subsidize commercial fur trapping in California.

“The illegal subsidization of the state’s commercial trapping program violates not just the letter of the law, but the will of the California people,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote. “An overwhelming majority of Californians do not support commercial trapping.”

In the 2015-2016 license year, approximately 200 trappers purchased commercial licenses. Of those, 50 reported killing the nearly 2,000 animals trapped for fur that year, according to a department report. To ensure undamaged pelts, trappers often kill animals through strangulation, gassing and anal electrocution.

If the illegal subsidy of trapping licenses is eliminated, trapping license fees would have to be set at a level that few if any trappers would likely be willing to pay, resulting in a de facto end to commercial fur trapping in California.

“It’s shocking that California still permits the inhumane slaughter of our wildlife for fur,” Su said. “It’s time the state is held accountable for its poor management of a program that benefits only a few.”

Today’s lawsuit targets the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife for failing to raise license fees to the levels adequate to recoup the entire commercial trapping program’s costs, as mandated under law. If the illegal subsidy of trapping licenses is eliminated, trapping license fees would have to be set at a level that few, if any, trappers would likely be willing to pay, resulting in a de facto end to commercial fur trapping in California.

Recognizing the ecological importance of carnivores, the Center and Project Coyote use science-based advocacy to defend these magnificent animals from persecution, exploitation and extinction. Find out more about the Center’s Carnivore Conservation campaign here and aboutProject Coyote’s Predator Protection Programs here.

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Alberta: Coyote gets stuck in car’s grille after being hit on highway – released…

AIRDRIE, Alta. – An Alberta woman says she was shocked when she found a
coyote she thought she’d struck and killed on the highway stuck in the
grille of her car.

Georgie Knox was driving to work in Calgary from her home in Airdrie last
week when the animal darted in front of her vehicle.

She says she heard a “crunch” and thought she’d run the animal over and
killed it.

But when she stopped at a traffic light near Calgary’s Foothills Hospital, a
construction worker pointed out the young coyote was lodged in her grille
and alive.

Knox called provincial fish and wildlife officers to help.

They managed to remove the animal, found it had only suffered minor injuries
and released it in the foothills west of Calgary.

Knox told CTV she felt bad when she realized the coyote had been embedded in
her grille for almost 35 kilometres at highway speeds.

“I felt horrible when I realized I took him with me all the way from
Airdrie. I thought he must be suffering and was going to die, so I was very
upset.”

She was astounded at the outpouring of concern.

“It was amazing just to see all kinds of people come together to save this
pup’s life. The construction workers, 311 dispatchers, (Calgary Police
Service) and finally the Wildlife Enforcement Department.”

Her story has gone viral on Facebook. It’s been shared tens of thousands of
times.

Knox said her experience has sparked a discussion about whether people
should be stopping to check on a wild animal they have hit on a busy
highway.

http://www.torontosun.com/2017/09/12/coyote-gets-stuck-in-cars-grille-after
being-hit-on-highway

Court Rules Monterey County Federal Animal-killing Contract Violates Law

Decision Likely Halts Program That Kills Coyotes,
Bobcats, Mountain Lions
 

Contacts:

Camilla Fox, Project Coyote, (415) 690-0338, cfox@projectcoyote.org
Collette Adkins, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821,cadkins@biologicaldiversity.org
Amey Owen, Animal Welfare Institute, (202) 446-2128, amey@awionline.org
Natalia Lima, Animal Legal Defense Fund, (201) 679-7088, nlima@aldf.org
Kimiko Martinez, Natural Resources Defense Council, (310) 434-2344, kmartinez@nrdc.org

SALINAS, Calif.— The California Superior Court has ruled that Monterey County’s contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program to kill predators and other native wildlife violates state law. The decision responds to a lawsuit filed by animal protection and conservation organizations.

The court concluded that Monterey County violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by failing to analyze the environmental impacts before renewing the controversial program, which has shot, trapped and snared thousands of animals in the county in recent years.

“This is a decisive victory for California’s wildlife and for science as it sends a clear message to USDA Wildlife Services and to entities contracting with them that they must look at the impacts of killing thousands of animals to both target and non-target animals as well as to the environment,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote.

The court’s ruling finds that Monterey County’s contract renewal with Wildlife Services violates CEQA because the county wrongfully claimed an exemption from the Act. The court found “no evidence” to support the county’s claim that its contract for predator control could not result in “significant environmental change,” so the county must now analyze the environmental impacts of the program.

“This decision is a major victory for Monterey County’s coyotes, foxes and other wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, an attorney and biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “All the latest science shows predator control is expensive, ineffective and inhumane. We hope the court’s decision spurs the county to realize that business-as-usual wildlife killing is no longer acceptable.”

Monterey County’s previous contract authorized Wildlife Services to kill hundreds of coyotes, as well as bobcats, mountain lions and other animals every year without fully assessing the ecological damage or considering alternatives. For example, from June 2014 to June 2015, Wildlife Services killed 105 coyotes, three mountain lions and two bobcats in the county. Over the past six years, Wildlife Services has killed more than 3,500 animals in Monterey County using traps, snares and firearms.

“It is appalling that Wildlife Services, a little known federal program, uses taxpayer dollars to slaughter millions of wild animals annually,” explained Tara Zuardo, a wildlife attorney with the Animal Welfare Institute. “We applaud the court in this case for calling out Monterey County for violating state law and recognizing the significant environmental impact of Wildlife Service’s unnecessary and inhumane slaughter of wildlife in the county.”

“We are pleased with the court’s decision and willingness to enforce this important environmental statute,” said Katherine Henderson, the lead attorney representing the conservation organizations.

“Wildlife Services should be under close scrutiny for its track record of indiscriminate killing and subjecting countless animals to painful deaths,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The individual coyotes, foxes, bobcats and others killed annually by Wildlife Services are integral components of the environment, and the government cannot recklessly kill these species without carefully assessing the potential ecological consequences of their deaths.”

A Monterey County resident joined with Animal Legal Defense Fund, theAnimal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense CouncilProject Coyote and the Mountain Lion Foundation to file the lawsuit that led to this victory. The conservationists were represented by Katherine Henderson, Christoher Mays and Mary Procaccio-Flowers of the law firm Wilson Sonsoni Goodrich & Rosati.

Background

Last year, Wildlife Services reported that it killed 1.6 million native animals nationwide, including 3,893 coyotes, 142 foxes, 83 black bears, 18 bobcats and thousands of other creatures in California. Nontarget animals — including family dogs and protected wildlife like wolves, Pacific fisher, and eagles — are also at risk from Wildlife Services’ indiscriminate methods.

Peer-reviewed research shows that such reckless slaughter of animals—particularly predators—results in broad ecological destruction and loss of biodiversity. The program’s controversial and indiscriminate killing methods have come under increased scrutiny from scientists, the public, and government officials.

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The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.

The Animal Welfare Institute is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. For more information, visit awionline.org.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places: biologicaldiversity.org.

Project Coyote, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Northern California, is a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. For more information, visit ProjectCoyote.org.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

For 30 years, the Mountain Lion Foundation has worked with member volunteers and activists to further wildlife policies that seek to protect mountain lions, people and domestic animals without resorting to lethal measures. For more information, visitmountainlion.org.

Why killing coyotes doesn’t make livestock safer

https://theconversation.com/why-killing-coyotes-doesnt-make-livestock-safer-75684

Few Americans probably know that their tax dollars paid to kill 76,859 coyotes in 2016. The responsible agency was Wildlife Services (WS), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Its mission is to “resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.” This broad mandate includes everything from reducing bird strikes at airports to curbing the spread of rabies.

Controlling predators that attack livestock is one of the agency’s more controversial tasks. WS uses nonlethal techniques, such as livestock guard dogs and fladry – hanging strips of cloth from fences, where they flutter and deter predators. But every year it also kills tens of thousands of predators, including bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, hawks, cougars and wolves.

However, there is no clear evidence that lethal control works to reduce human-predator conflict. In fact, it can even make the problem worse. At the same time, research shows that predators play key roles in maintaining healthy ecosystems. As a conservation biologist specializing in human-wildlife conflicts, I see growing evidence that it is time to reconsider lethal control.

Warfare on the range

Coyotes have been a target ever since European explorers first arrived in their territory centuries ago. Nonetheless, their range has expanded from the western plains across most of the continent.

The most common reason for killing coyotes is to reduce predation of livestock, such as sheep and calves. In a 2015 USDA report on sheep losses, ranchers reported how many of their animals died in 2014 and how they died. Twenty-eight percent of adult sheep losses and 36 percent of lamb losses were attributed to predators. Of those animals, ranchers stated that 33,510 adult sheep (more than half of total predation losses) and 84,519 lambs (nearly two-thirds of all predation losses) were killed by coyotes.

Domestic sheep killed by a coyote in California. CDFW/Flickr, CC BY

According to the American Sheep Industry Association, about UD$20.5 million of ranchers’ losses in 2014 (roughly one-fifth of their total losses) were attributed to coyotes. Importantly, however, these numbers were based on self-reported data and were not verified by wildlife professionals. External review would be useful because even experienced ranchers may have trouble determining in some cases whether a sheep was killed by a coyote or a dog (dogs are second only to coyotes in reported predation on livestock), or died from other causes and later was scavenged by coyotes.

To keep coyotes in check, WS employees set neck snares and other traps, shoot coyotes on the ground and from planes and helicopters, arm sheep with collars containing liquid poison and distribute M-44 “bombs” that inject sodium cyanide into the mouths of animals that chew on them.

As in warfare, there is collateral damage. M-44s killed more than 1,100 domestic dogs between 2000 and 2012. Scientists have also criticized WS for unintentionally killing numerous animals and birds, including federally protected golden and bald eagles, while failing to do any studies of how its actions affected nontarget species. Early this year the American Society of Mammalogists called for more scientific scrutiny of the policy of killing large predators.

How effective is lethal control?

It is understandable for struggling ranchers to blame coyotes for economic losses, since kills leave tangible signs and killing predators seems like a logical solution. However, a widely cited 2006 study called coyotes scapegoats for factors that were more directly related to the decline of sheep ranching in the United States.

The author, Dr. Kim Murray Berger, who was then a research biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, built and tested a series of statistical models to explain the declining number of sheep being bred in the United States. She found that variables including the price of hay, wage rates and the price of lamb explained most of the decline, and that the amount of money spent on predator control had little effect.

Other research indicates that even if predation is one factor in ranchers’ economic losses, lethal control is not the best way to reduce it.

Warning in area baited with cyanide traps, Sandoval, New Mexico (click to zoom).Killbox/Flickr, CC BY-NC

One 2016 analysis reviewed studies that compared lethal and nonlethal strategies for controlling livestock predation. Lethal methods ranged from civilian hunts to government culls. Nonlethal methods included fladry, guard animals, chemical repellents and livestock protection collars. The review found that nonlethal methods generally reduced livestock predation more effectively, and that predation actually temporarily increased after use of some lethal methods.

Why would predation increase after predators are killed? When pack animals such as coyotes, dingoes and wolves are killed, the social structure of their packs breaks down. Female coyotes become more likely to breed and their pups are more likely to survive, so their numbers may actually increase. Packs generally protect territories, so breaking up a pack allows new animals to come in, raising the population. In addition, some new arrivals may opportunistically prey on livestock, which can increase predation rates.

These findings extend beyond the United States. A three-year study in South Africa found that using nonlethal methods to protect livestock from jackals, caracals and leopards cost ranchers less than lethal methods, both because less predation occurred and because the nonlethal methods cost less.

In Australia dingoes occupy a similar ecological niche to coyotes and are similarly targeted. In a recent case study at a cattle station, researchers found that ceasing all lethal and nonlethal predator control reduced predation of cattle by dingoes as the social structure of the resident dingoes stabilized.

Even research by USDA supports this pattern. In a recent study, researchers from several universities, USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center and the nonprofit advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife analyzed wolf predation rates for sheep producers on public grazing lands in Idaho. Predation was 3.5 times higher in zones where lethal control was used than in adjacent areas where nonlethal methods were used.

A USDA biologist installs fladry to deter predators on a ranch near Jackson, Wyoming. Pamela Manns, USAD/Flickr

A high-stakes placebo

Overuse of subsidized predator control is comparable to primary care doctors overprescribing antibiotics to human patients. Patients often demand antibiotics for common colds, although doctors understand that these infections are caused mainly by viruses, so antibiotics will be ineffective. But receiving a prescription makes patients feel that their concerns are being addressed. Lethal control is a high-stakes placebo for the problems that ail ranchers, and misusing it can increase problems for ranchers and the ecosystems around them.

Human-wildlife conflict is a complex issue. Often, as some colleagues and I showed in our recent book, “Human-Wildlife Conflict,” the real problem is confrontations between humans about how to deal with wildlife.

This means that we need to choose prevention and mitigation methods carefully. If cultural values and prevailing community attitudes are not taken into account, attempts to change ranching practices could increase hostility toward predators and make it harder for conservation groups to work with ranchers.

Federal employees at Wildlife Services are under tremendous pressure from the agricultural industry. And farmers and ranchers often act based on deeply rooted traditions and cultural attitudes. It rests with wildlife professionals to use current and well-grounded science to address human concerns without harming the environment.

The ugly sides of coyote hunting

Another View — Christine Schadler: The ugly sides of coyote hunting

The recent article in the Union Leader about coyote baiting lifts the curtain on the world of coyote killing. In this recreational activity, a hunter can leave bait such as the dead pigs and chickens mentioned. Coyotes scavenge whatever they can, and unwittingly become target practice for the waiting shooter.

There is no hunt involved, no fair chase and no biological justification for this — just killing a useful predator, sorely needed to control rodent and deer populations. Why is this allowed? Ask the wildlife managers at New Hampshire Fish and Game and you will learn that since the coyotes will quickly replace any members removed, they are infinitely replaceable and therefore are in no danger of becoming extinct.

This is hardly justification.

Resilience characterizes the coyote, a trait for which it should be admired. Instead, it is the trait that causes coyotes so much trouble. The coyote is the predator we cannot control. Decades of extermination effort has yielded only hundreds of thousands more coyotes and a remarkable expansion in their range. Biologists understand the power of unleashing this responsive reproduction characteristic but at Fish and Game agencies, unlimited killing of coyotes is tolerated to appease the hunters who wish to kill for the sake of killing.

Ask one of these hunters why they kill coyotes and they will quickly respond, as did Mr. Toomey, the baiter, that coyotes have no predators and would get out of control if they weren’t constantly taken.

Of course, in nature, everything has predators and in the case of coyotes, it is disease. Mange, distemper, rabies, Parvo virus, tularemia, canine hepatitis and even porcupines all take their toll on coyotes. Meanwhile coyotes, a major predator of rodents (which make up 62 percent of their diet,) help to control the spread of Lyme disease.

As New Hampshire Fish and Game turns a blind eye to the reality of coyote killing, as discovered by the young man in Plaistow, they allow cruelty to pups, orphaned when their parents are killed, to a slow death by starvation. Yes, coyotes can be killed during their breeding and denning season, day and night in this state. Ask a wildlife manager at Fish and Game about this and you will be told that there aren’t that many taken to really make a dent in the population, but this is not the point.

First, no one is keeping track of the numbers of coyotes killed by hunting, baiting and denning (killing pups while in their den), and hunters are not required to report what they have killed. Secondly, the ethics of killing coyotes 365 days a year and at night from January through March are not part of the management decision-making.

The eastern coyote, like predators in general, regulates its own population naturally in several ways. When pack structure, crucial to self-regulation, is impacted by hunting, the young breed. Normally two thirds of all females never breed due to brief estrus cycles (just one week per year.) Also, vigilant parents do not tolerate their young breeding on their territory. Only the breeding pair breeds, period.

As long as no one asks too many questions, irresponsible hunters will continue to kill, kill, kill coyotes. Now that New Hampshire Fish and Game needs $1.5 million from the General Fund, our voice must be heard in defense of wildlife. The hunter, giving fair chase, holding ethical standards and using that animal for food, has every right to continue.

Christine Schadler is the Vermont and New Hampshire representative for Project Coyote.

Coalition of Scientists Condemn “Georgia Coyote Challenge” State Sanctioned Coyote Slaughter Commenced March 1

ATLANTA, Georgia – In a letter to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), eighteen scientists with Project Coyote condemned the state agency-sanctioned “Georgia Coyote Challenge,” stating, “This purported management tool is nothing more than a wildlife killing contest (WKC), tempting participants to kill coyotes for a chance to win a lifetime hunting license.”

The Georgia Coyote Challenge (GCC) started yesterday, and has already come under intense public criticism and scientific scrutiny. Project Coyote’s letter, written by some of the most preeminent wild canid ecologists in the country, states, “The Georgia DNR argues that the Georgia Coyote Challenge is important for achieving management objectives for other species, especially game species. There is no credible evidence that indiscriminate killing of coyotes or other predators effectively serves any genuine interest in managing other species.”

“For a state agency whose mission is to ‘sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources’ to sponsor such a program is reprehensible,” states Dr. Chris Mowry, Project Coyote Science Advisory Board member, founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project, and co-author of the letter. He adds, “The Georgia Coyote Challenge is both inhumane and unwise.”

Project Coyote scientists also point to the DNR’s contradictory position on organized coyote killing programs, citing the Georgia Deer Management Plan (2015-2024), which was prepared by the DNR and states: “Coyote bounties [are] viewed as an ineffective tool. … [Wildlife Resources Division] and [the Georgia State] General Assembly oppose coyote bounty programs.”

“Project Coyote’s science advisory board has exposed the DNR in a shameful contradiction,” stated Camilla Fox, Project Coyote Founder and Executive Director. “The DNR’s own research clearly shows that indiscriminate coyote killing is ‘ineffective’ and yet here they are promoting a statewide incentivized coyote kill fest that has no legitimate wildlife management purpose whatsoever.”

“We are also very concerned about the public safety threat the Georgia Coyote Challenge poses to people and pets,” Mowry stated. “Encouraging thousands of Georgians to shoot as many coyotes as they can—sometimes right outside of city limits—is a recipe for disaster.”

“Aside from the ecological insanity and public safety concerns of the Georgia Coyote Challenge, it is ethically indefensible,” stated Fox. “Coyote pups born this spring will be orphaned and left to die a slow and painful death when their parents are shot. This kill fest should be halted immediately.”

Project Coyote led a successful effort to end the killing of coyotes, bobcats, foxes and other animals for prizes and other inducements in California in 2014. The non-profit organization is part of a coalition in New Mexico currently pushing legislation through the state legislature that would ban coyote killing contests statewide.

READ PROJECT COYOTE’S LETTER TO THE DNR here.

WATCH PROJECT COYOTE’S FILM TRAILER “Unfair Game: Ending Wildlife Killing Contests” here

WATCH a video about coyotes in Georgia with Project Coyote Science Advisory Board member Chris Mowry here.

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Project Coyote is a national non-profit organization, comprised of a coalition of scientists, educators, ranchers and citizen leaders promoting compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science and advocacy. We work to change laws and policies to protect native carnivores from abuse and mismanagement, advocating coexistence instead of killing. We seek to change negative attitudes toward coyotes, wolves and other misunderstood predators by replacing ignorance and fear with understanding, respect and appreciation.


Copyright © 2017 Project Coyote, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 5007, Larkspur, CA 94977

The Latest: Panel OKs Measure to Ban Coyote-killing Contests

http://www.usnews.com/news/new-mexico/articles/2017-02-16/the-latest-panel-oks-measure-to-ban-coyote-killing-contests

Legislation aimed at banning coyote-hunting competitions in New Mexico has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

Feb. 16, 2017, at 1:04 p.m.

The Latest: Panel OKs Measure to Ban Coyote-killing Contests

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on wildlife bills pending in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

11 a.m.

Legislation aimed at banning coyote-hunting competitions in New Mexico has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The majority of the Senate Conservation Committee gave the bill a do-pass recommendation during a packed hearing Thursday. The measure must win approval from two more committees before reaching the Senate floor for a vote.

The bill sponsored by Democrat Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces would outlaw coyote-killing contests after a number of recent competitions drew anger from animal rights advocates. The bill would not prevent landowners from hunting the predators on their property.

Ranchers and outfitters from around the state argued that the contests can be a tool for managing packs of coyotes that threaten cattle and sheep.

Supporters of the legislation called the practice barbaric and questioned whether there were any scientific benefits.

___

10:31 a.m.

A Senate committee has tabled a proposal to significantly shift the mission of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

The legislation sponsored by Democrat Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces would give the department the authority to manage all wildlife as a public resource rather than managing game animals and fish for recreation and food as currently provided under law.

The measure also would give the gubernatorial appointees of the Game Commission authority over all wildlife rather than just game species.

The department argues that the legislation would effectively add another 6,000 species to the list of animals it’s responsible for managing, costing millions of dollars more each year.

Game and Fish Director Alexa Sandoval called the measure an unfunded mandate, noting that the department’s work is funded by sportsmen through licenses and other fees.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

Coyote hunting ban would end under NC Senate bill, but some fear for endangered red wolves

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article132861439.html

Workshop offers insight into hunting coyotes and other predators

“You’re hunting the animal that normally does the hunting,” Andrew Kenner of Jackson, Missouri, said. “They’re the top of the food chain for a reason.”

Kenner, who belongs to a Facebook group for predator hunters in Missouri, said coyotes can remember individual calls. If they see the hunter before he can shoot, Kenner said, coyotes will never respond to that call again.

“Whenever you see them, that’s about the only chance you will have,” Kenner said, “because after that, they will learn exactly what’s going on.”

Different techniques for calling coyotes, foxes and bobcats — from hand calls to electronic versions — will be one focus of a workshop from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The workshop will also go over the limits and regulations for hunting coyotes and other predators. Camouflage and scent control will also be discussed.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is hosting the workshop to teach people how to call coyotes and other predators, such as foxes and bobcats, at the Missouri Department’s regional office in Columbia.

The workshop is free and open to anyone 11 years or older. To reserve a seat, call outdoor skills specialist Brian Flowers at 815-7901 ext. 2867 before the workshop begins. Openings are subject to availability.

About 60 people attended last year’s predator hunting workshop, and a similar turnout is expected Wednesday.

Flowers said predator hunting isn’t an activity where someone can go out and be successful quickly. It requires dedicating time to learning the ins and outs.

“It’s not something that is easy,” Flowers said. “I think that’s why folks want to seek out information and knowledge about it.”

 Regulating the predator population through hunting has environmental benefits.

Flowers said problems that can arise from an uncontrolled predator population include the spread of disease among the predator population, the displacement of predators into urban areas because of overcrowding and the attack of farmers’ crops and livestock due to a shortage of food.

Missouri residents must possess a small game hunting permit to hunt coyotes, foxes and bobcats.

The Department of Conservation encourages hunters to make use of the hides of predators they kill.

Kenner skins the coyotes he kills, and then gives the fur to someone who will tan it, or he tans it himself.

“Before you go on a coyote hunt, you want to have everything lined up in terms of what you’re going to do with the coyote,” Kenner said. “That way you’re not just shooting an animal and letting it lay.”

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

Why coyotes and badgers hunt together

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/coyote-and-badger-hunt-together

The two predators were recently photographed collaborating in Colorado, a fascinating example of interspecies teamwork.

November 25, 2016,
coyote and badger hunting together

A coyote and badger stalk prey together on the prairie surrounding the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center in northern Colorado. (Photo: Kimberly Fraser/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Competition and cooperation aren’t mutually exclusive. Just ask a coyote or a badger.

Both are crafty carnivores, and since they often hunt the same prey in the same prairies, it would make sense for them to be enemies, or at least to avoid each other. But while they don’t always get along, coyotes and badgers also have an ancient arrangement that illustrates why it can be smart for rivals to work together.

An example of that partnership recently unfolded on a prairie in northern Colorado, near the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. And it was captured in photos, both by a wildlife camera trap and by sharp-eyed photographers:

coyote and badger hunting togetherA field camera caught this amazing shot, which shows the coyote and badger trotting across the landscape with a prairie dog looking on in the foreground. (Photo: National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center/Facebook)

coyote and badger hunting togetherThe duo takes a break from pursuing prairie dogs. (Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS)

coyote and badger hunting together(Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS)

coyote and badger hunting togetherThe coyote and badger survey a black-tailed prairie dog colony near Wellington, Colorado. (Photo: Ryan Moehring/USFWS)

While it’s relatively rare to capture such good photos of a hunt like this, the phenomenon is well-documented. It was familiar to many Native Americans long before Europeans reached the continent, and scientists have studied it for decades. It has been reported across much of Canada, the United States and Mexico, according to Ecology Online, typically with one badger hunting alongside one coyote.

(In one study at the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming, 90 percent of all coyote-badger hunts featured one of each animal, while about 9 percent involved one badger with two coyotes. Just 1 percent saw a lone badger join a coyote trio.)

But why would these predators work together at all? When one of them finally catches something, they aren’t known to share the spoils. So what’s the point?

coyote and badger hunting togetherWorking together helps each species pursue prey more effectively. (Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS)

The point, apparently, is to improve the likelihood that at least one of the hunters will snag some prey. Even if that means the other one ends up empty-handed, the partnership seems to pay off for both species in the long run.

Each member of the hunting party has a distinct set of skills. Coyotes are nimble and quick, so they excel at chasing prey across an open prairie. Badgers are slow and awkward runners by comparison, but they’re better diggers than coyotes are, having evolved to pursue small animals in underground burrow systems. So when they hunt prairie dogs or ground squirrels on their own, badgers usually dig them up, while coyotes chase and pounce. The rodents therefore use different strategies depending which predator is after them: They often escape a digging badger by leaving their burrows to flee aboveground, and evade coyotes by running to their burrows.

When badgers and coyotes work together, however, they combine these skills to hunt more effectively than either could alone. Coyotes chase prey on the surface, while badgers take the baton for subterranean pursuits. Only one may end up with a meal, but overall, research suggests the collaboration benefits both hunters.

“Coyotes with badgers consumed prey at higher rates and had an expanded habitat base and lower locomotion costs,” according to the authors of the National Elk Refuge study. “Badgers with coyotes spent more time below ground and active, and probably had decreased locomotion and excavation costs. Overall, prey vulnerability appeared to increase when both carnivores hunted in partnership.”

Badgers and coyotes aren’t always friendly, though. While the majority of their interactions “appear to be mutually beneficial or neutral,” Ecology Online notes they do sometimes prey on each other. The two species have developed “a sort of open relationship,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), since they tend to collaborate in warmer months, then often drift apart as winter sets in.

“In the winter, the badger can dig up hibernating prey as it sleeps in its burrow,” the FWS explains. “It has no need for the fleet-footed coyote.”

Not at the time, anyway. But winter eventually turns to spring, and these two hunters may start to need each other again. And just as they have for thousands of years, they’ll make peace, embrace their differences and get back to work.