One Dies, One Injured in Coyote Hunting Accident


Daviess County – One man is dead and another in a hospital.. after an accident while they were hunting this afternoon.
It happened just before three in Daviess County.
The sheriff’s office says that 40 year old Mervin Knepp of Montgomery, Indiana and 18 year Lavon Wagler of Plainville were coyote hunting.
That’s when their hunting dogs ran a coyote into an oil well pump housing.
The two men went to the machinery to retrieve the dogs when the pump started running.
Wagler was taken to the hospital for surgery on his leg.
Knepp was pronounced dead at the hospital.

 

Oregon May Be Over-Hunting Cougars — Which Could Cause More Conflicts

https://www.opb.org/news/article/cougar-overhunting-conflict-oregon/


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Problem encounters with cougars have increased in Oregon's Willamette Valley.

Problem encounters with cougars have increased in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

National Park Service

A fatal cougar attack has reignited debates over hound hunting and cougar management in Oregon. Groups of Oregonians, particularly hound hunters, say that Oregon’s cougar population is growing out of control. Cougar advocates, on the other hand, say that Oregon is over-hunting cougars, which research suggests can lead to an increase in problem encounters.

But before you can figure out if Oregon’s cougars are being over-hunted or under-hunted, you need to know how many cougars there are in the state.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates there about 6,600 cougars here, and possibly as many as 7,600. That’s three times higher than the numbers reported Washington or Idaho. It’s even slightly higher than the estimate for California: 4,000 to 6,000 cougars are thought to roam the massive state.

But hunting groups, ranchers and Oregonians who live in cougar country say the Oregon’s cougar count severely underestimates the state’s actual population. Conservationists argue it’s too high. Biologists and wildlife officials from other states say it’s a lot more complicated, and more than just a question of numbers.

One of the big reasons Oregon’s number is so much higher than its neighbors’: Oregon’s estimate includes kittens, which rarely survive to adulthood. Oregon does not count the juveniles of any other game species, like elk or bighorn sheep.

Two juvenile cougars hide on a fence to avoid territorial coyotes in Wyoming. Cougar kittens rarely survive to adulthood.

Two juvenile cougars hide on a fence to avoid territorial coyotes in Wyoming. Cougar kittens rarely survive to adulthood.

Lori Iverson / US Fish and Wildlife Service

“The fact that they don’t clarify themselves every time says that they want people to assume there are 6,600 big cats running around the state,” said John Laundré, a predator ecologist at Western Oregon University. “They don’t include babies for other ephemeral species, like ducks or deer.” And only adult animals can be hunted.

Derek Broman, ODFW’s state carnivore biologist, said whenever he gives a presentation he makes it clear that all ages are included in official population estimates. But there’s no mention of that on the department’s cougar webpage, and you have to look deep into the cougar management plan find adult cat estimates. A brochure specifies that the population includes all age classes, but never offers adult numbers.

Even if you exclude kittens and juvenile cougars from population estimates, Oregon still reports some of the highest densities of adult cougars in the country.

Washington’s research into cougar densities dates back nearly two decades and includes seven study areas. Across those areas, the state has documented consistent findings: Roughly two cougars for every 100 square kilometers, said Rich Beausoleil, the bear and cougar specialist at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. He said Washington’s cougar-density numbers are consistent with what other studies  — except Oregon’s — report.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s surveys found adult densities twice that, depending on the ecosystem.

“I’ve not seen such high densities anywhere in the world,” said Rob Wielgus, former director of the Large Carnivore Conservation Lab at Washington State University, commenting on a controversial density survey conducted by Oregon.

Beausoleil has spoken to ODFW about the state’s population estimates before, and has criticized the design of Oregon’s studies, which he says will naturally overestimate regional populations. Derek Broman says ODFW controlled for overestimation and stands by their data.

It’s not unusual for cougar surveys to arrive at different conclusions, said David Stoner, a cougar biologist at Utah State University. Cougars are extremely hard to study because they’re so hard to find.

ODFW says these surveys confirm their statewide population estimates, which they calculate using a model. They estimate statewide density by mapping cougar deaths, and then add expected birth rates. They also tweak the numbers depending on food availability in the region.

Laundré said the growth estimate used in the study is an optimistic “best-case scenario” one: “A model is only as good as what you put into it. I could make their model show that there were only 3,000 total animals or 10,000 total animals.”

A tranquilized cougar is fit with a radio collar in California.

A tranquilized cougar is fit with a radio collar in California.

Harry Morse, California Department of Fish and Game

All of this might seem like an internal debate about the best way to count cougars. Everyone agrees that at one point in the 1960s there were only 200 or so cougars in the state, and today there are several thousand. The cats are in no danger of going extinct.

But a lot rides on accurate population estimates. Not only do these numbers tell management officials if populations are growing or shrinking, they’re used to help set hunting quotas for each region. Some scientists found that when cougars are over-hunted, problem encounters with humans and livestock increase.

Wielgus, who has left Washington for the Bend area, was one of the first to identify such a link.

“In the 20 years of research I did with WDFW, we conducted the largest study of cougars ever done anywhere. We found that heavy retaliatory killing or preventive killing actually causes increased problems,” he said.

It works like this: Female cougars have smallish overlapping territories that seem to fluctuate with prey abundance. Male cougars have larger, non-overlapping territories that encompass multiple female ones.

Only large, older males are capable of holding down these territories, “and you don’t get to be a 10-year-old male by attacking humans or livestock or pets.”

But Wielgus found that those 10-year-old males were far more likely to be killed by hunters. “And we found that when you remove an older male, you have two or three teenage males come in to take their place. And those are the ones that are responsible for most bad encounters between cougars and people, as well as the majority of livestock and pet depredations.”

This movement of younger animals also means it can be difficult to tell if a population is declining due to overhunting or staying the same.

Wielgus is a controversial figure in the predator management community, in part for research indicating that hunting wolves can increase attacks on livestock. He says he was silenced and forced out of his position at Washington State University because of his work.

A 10-month-old cougar is startled by a trail camera in the California mountains. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife includes juvenile cougars in their total population estimates.

A 10-month-old cougar is startled by a trail camera in the California mountains. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife includes juvenile cougars in their total population estimates.

National Park Service

A smattering of papers have attempted to debunk his cougar research, but even more have supported it. One of the most recent was a massive, 30-year look at hunting and problem cougars in British Columbia. For their part, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife stands by Wielgus’ research and their own: Today, they manage cougars specifically to avoid the consequences of over-hunting.

“Our management philosophy is to manage for the social stability of the animal. We want to promote territoriality,” Beausoleil said.

WDFW’s data shows that when more than 14 percent of a cougar population is harvested in a given region, the population starts to skew young, territories dissolve, and problem encounters increase. To avoid this, they split the state into 49 game management units, and each unit allows 12 percent to 16 percent of cougars to be taken. When one of those units reaches that quota, it closes, and hunters can go to an adjacent unit. It’s not a perfect system: Sometimes, it can take a while to close a unit, and more cougars are killed.

At first glance, Oregon seems to be following Washington’s no-conflict guidelines: On average, Oregon’s hunters take less than 14 percent of the state’s big cats each year. But unlike Washington and Montana, where there are dozens of game management units used to set cougar quotas, Oregon’s cats are divided into just six large regions, which makes it more difficult to track regional densities.

The statewide quota for 2018 is 970 human-caused deaths — a whopping 27 percent of the state’s estimated 3,500 adults. Per the cougar management plan, the quota serves as a mortality cap, and not a target. The statewide quota has never been filled, but some of the game management units regularly approach theirs.

Zone A, which includes the region where the hiker was attacked, covers the North Cascades and the coast. As of Nov. 6, its humans have killed 167 of the 180 allowed cougars. ODFW estimates there were 989 cougars of all ages in Zone A in 2015. If half of those were adults, then roughly one third of adult cougars in the region were killed: Research suggests that’s a number high enough to cause conflicts with humans.

Overhunting cougars can have impacts on cougars’ societies, too. Once thought of as loners, recent research has revealed cougars’ social lives to be much more complex than previously thought.

Mark Elbroch, the director of the puma program at wildcat conservation organization Panthera, studies cougar communities. He’s found that the mountain lions within one male’s territory function like a society: They interact non-aggressively and seem to frequently share food, a favor that’s apparently returned in the future.

“You can imagine that overhunting will have huge impacts on these social networks and organizations, on the glue that holds them together as functioning groups,” Elbroch said.

A radiocollared cougar shares a kill with another cat, thought to be her cub. Cougars have been found to share kills with related and non-related cats, though they rarely eat at the same time.

A radiocollared cougar shares a kill with another cat, thought to be her cub. Cougars have been found to share kills with related and non-related cats, though they rarely eat at the same time.

National Park Service

And anecdotally, he’s seen the impacts of removing one large male from that society. After one of his study males was killed by hunters, he noticed a nearby male start to encroach on the old territory, just enough so that it crossed paths with a female and her two cubs. The female charged the strange male, and died. Her cubs lasted a little while, but eventually both died.

“One could argue that one bullet killed four mountain lions,” Elbroch said.

ODFW’s Derek Broman is dismissive of the “social chaos” hypothesis. He says the department has conducted its own research, and “there’s no information to suggest chaos and turmoil. Death and mortality is a common occurrence, even outside of human influence.”

Oregon officials may dispute the idea that their management practices lead to more problem cougars. But the state does remove more such animals than neighboring states. In 2017 there were 462 such complaints, and 175 cougars were killed. Those numbers remain fairly stable from year to year, though they’ve risen dramatically in the Willamette Valley.

In comparison, about 100 cougars are killed in California each year for attacking livestock. In 2016, 46 nuisance cougars were killed in Washington.

Hunters say that the best way to combat these problem cats is to increase hunting. But unless a large number of cougars are removed over a large area, more will just move in to take their place. Which is why some are calling for a return to hound hunting.

The theory is this: Hound hunters, unlike normal hunters, can be selective. If their dogs tree a cougar, the hunter can choose if it’s going to be a worthwhile trophy. If the animal is small or female, the hunter can pull their dogs off the tree, and the cougar can live.

This, say hound hunting advocates, creates a population of scared cougars, who will run away as soon as they hear a human in the forest.

Laundré and Elbroch are skeptical that hound hunting leads to scared cougars, but other biologists think it’s not impossible.

“Hound hunting doesn’t have to be a lethal pursuit,” Stoner noted. “You have the ability to pursue multiple animals over the course of a season, and can in theory select a nice tom.”

Unfortunately, that selectivity targets large toms: the exact animals many biologists say are necessary for maintaining cougar social stability. Indeed, when hound hunting was banned in Oregon, the average age of cats killed dropped.

In the end, biologists say it’s important to remember that the only way most people will ever interact with a cougar is through their livestock or pets. “Cougars aren’t fearsome,” said Laundré, who has tracked and collared more than 250 cougars. “I’ve never had a cat behave aggressively.”

As Teddy Roosevelt noted after chasing a cougar with hounds and stabbing it to death, “He was more afraid of us than the dogs.”

‘Hunting dog’ abandoned with serious injuries after being hit by car

http://www.itv.com/news/anglia/2018-08-29/hunting-dog-abandoned-with-serious-injuries-after-being-hit-by-car/

A dog who was ‘left for dead’ with serious leg injuries is recovering at an RSPCA hospital.

Zach
Zach Credit: RSPCA

Five-year-old Saluki Zach was found with serious injuries on Fambridge Road in Maldon earlier this month.

“Poor Zach was being used for some sort of hunting when he was injured. Salukis and lurcher types are often used for illegal blood sports such as hare coarsing and locals tell us he was being used to chase rabbits and hares across the fields. Unfortunately, Zach seems to have chased something into the road where he was hit – according to witnesses – by a car travelling at around 50mph. He suffered severe leg injuries and his owners left the scene and simply left him for dead. Thankfully, some kind members of the public helped him and contacted us right away so we were able to get him the veterinary attention he needed.”

– CAROLINE ALLEN, RSPCA
Zach
Zach Credit: RSPCA

Zach suffered a broken leg and also had a nasty open wound. He will require surgery although vets hope to save the leg.

“Poor Zach was absolutely terrified and must have been in so much pain, it’s despicable that his owners could see him hurt so seriously in this accident and simply drive away and leave him there in agony.”

– CAROLINE ALLEN, RSPCA
Zach
Zach Credit: RSPCA

Police were also called to the scene after the driver of the car failed to stop following the accident.

Hunt saboteurs join forces with huntsmen as they come together to rescue horse stuck in a bog

Hunt saboteurs joined forces with huntsmen as they came together to rescue a horse which had become trapped in a deep bog.

Members of Surrey Hunt Monitors and Guildford Hunt Saboteurs were following a group of hunters from the Surrey Hunt Union near Hankley Common on Saturday.

They planned to track the hunt and document their activities, and intervene if any animals got hurt.

But after just 30 minutes one of the lead huntsman’s horses got stuck in a deep bog – and the saboteurs stepped in to help their adversaries rescue the distressed animal.

A member of Guildford Hunt Saboteurs, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “When I arrived, they [the hunt] had started to take the saddle off the horse to reduce weight.

“I waited until they had done that to ask if they needed help but they said ‘no’ so I observed at the side and carried on taking footage.”

Traditional enemies came together when a group of hunt saboteurs came to the aid of huntsman whose horse got tapped in a bog at the weekend
Traditional enemies came together when a group of hunt saboteurs came to the aid of huntsman whose horse got tapped in a bog at the weekend

He said more saboteurs arrived on the scene and the hunters continued to refuse assistance, but eventually relented and let them help.

“I jumped in after about five minutes and said to them ‘look, the only thing that’s important at this point in time is the horse, I don’t care about anything else’.

“At that point, I think they were quite happy for me to assist.

“At the end, the joint hunt master thanked us for our help and said we had been a great help.”

The Surrey Hunt Monitors said they decided to intervene because the horse was “well stuck, freezing cold and clearly stressed”.

A spokesman for the group added: “The horse was very lucky to have survived its ordeal and we were happy we were there with the saboteurs to offer assistance.

“It was heartening to hear the appreciation of the hunt master to all of us who helped when we all made it out of the area safely.”

Surrey Police officers were also called to the scene to help with the rescue.

A police spokesman said the hunters were “grateful to the help offered” and that the horse “appeared to have no obvious injuries”.

The Surrey Hunt Union says members hunt around the county throughout the hunting season within the restrictions set out in the Hunting Act 2004.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Jeremy Gumbley said the horse is fine and thanked the saboteurs for their help.

“In the ideal scenario, you never want this to happen,” he said.

“The horses are part of the team and we care for them just as much as anyone else. To have that happen is a potential disaster.

“All credit to our Surrey Hunt Monitors and the saboteurs. In the past, we have come to blows over different opinions on various things, but we all love animals.”

He added: “It was quite refreshing to see solidarity, with the human species coming together to help one of our friends.”

Using dogs to hunt foxes was banned by the Government in 2004 under the Hunting Act.

But there are dozens of hunt saboteur groups nationwide who claim hunters regularly flout the law and kill foxes.

Suspects in massive Wash. poaching investigation plead not guilty

File photo

AA

CENTRALIA, Wash. (AP) – Two of the three newest suspects in a massive poaching investigation out of southwest Washington have pleaded not guilty.

The Chronicle reports Aaron Hendricks, his father-in-law David McLeskey of Woodland and Aaron Hanson are facing charges of first-degree animal cruelty, unlawful hunting of black bear, cougar, bobcat or lynx with dogs and second-degree unlawful hunting of animals.

Hendricks and McLeskey have pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.

Hanson is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

According to court documents, officials uncovered a network of poachers after investigating William Haynes and Erik Martin who are suspected of engaging in illegal hunting activities.

Law enforcement identified Hanson, Hendricks and McLeskey as suspects and co-conspirators in the illegal activities from cellphone evidence.

Vote could see all hunting banned from National Trust land

CHARLOTTE CROSS ITV NEWS REPORTER

A controversial motion to ban all hunting activity from National Trust land could cause many hunts across the country to collapse, campaigners say.

Anti-hunt activists argue the move, if successful, would help stop illegal hunting by taking away huge swathes of land hunts are able to access – but pro-hunt supporters vigorously deny any illegal activity, and warn it risks the loss of a traditional British country sport.

Members are being urged to cast their votes for or against the proposal before midnight on Friday (October 13), when postal and online voting will close.

The motion will then go before the Trust’s annual general meeting on October 21.

Fox hunting has been illegal since 2005
Fox hunting has been illegal since 2005. Credit: PA

Hunting live animals with hounds has been illegal since the Hunting Act came into force in 2005.

To try to preserve the tradition, hunts were allowed to continue provided they followed scent-based trails instead.

But foxes are still killed by hunts. They claim this is accidental, and say it only happens when a live fox crosses the trail which has been pre-laid for the hounds.

Animal rights campaigners, however, accuse the hunts of deliberately breaking the law. They argue that trails are rarely, if ever, genuinely laid – it is merely a smokescreen allowing them to continue as they always did.

The motion to ban hunts from National Trust land was put forward by former teacher Helen Beynon, from Wigston in Leicestershire.

She told ITV News she only became aware that hunting still took place in January, when a friend invited her to a demonstration against the Atherstone Hunt in Staffordshire at New Year.

Brian May joined an anti-hunt protest outside Parliament in 2015.
Brian May joined an anti-hunt protest outside Parliament in 2015. Credit: PA

I couldn’t believe this was allowed to happen on National Trust land. I’ve just become more and more passionate about it as the months have gone by and I’ve learned more.

I don’t think a charity which claims to be about conservation and protecting wildlife should be allowing dozens of hounds at a time to be let loose over their land, where there’s a risk they could kill animals living there.

– HELEN BEYNON, CAMPAIGNER

Hunts are still allowed, but must follow scent trails instead of live animals.
Hunts are still allowed, but must follow scent trails instead of live animals. Credit: PA

Polly Portwin, head of the hunting campaign for the Countryside Alliance, dismissed the allegation that trail hunting was a cover for illegal hunting as “simply untrue”.

“There’s no illegal fox hunting intentionally. Hunts go out to trail hunt – they lay a trail in accordance with the Hunting Act 2004, and the intention is to go out and follow that line, and hunt within the law,” she said.

While accidents do happen, she said, huntsmen are very diligent and always try to call hounds back when they’re aware there is a live fox in the area.

Well-meaning hunt monitors and hunt saboteurs can often make this more difficult by mimicking the huntsman’s horn or calls, confusing the hounds.

She said the motion, if voted through, could completely remove the amount of land available for some hunts – particularly those in rural areas of the north of England.

With some packs, you’d question the viability of them if they lost access to the National Trust land. It’s a huge part of some of their countries.

It’s a big community thing as well, a lot of people – particularly in rural areas – would be vastly affected. This threatens to take away something which is very dear to them.

– POLLY PORTWIN, COUNTRYSIDE ALLIANCE

A huntsman holds up a fox killed by the Durham Hunt in 2005, before the ban came into force.
A huntsman holds up a fox killed by the Durham Hunt in 2005, before the ban came into force. Credit: PA

Despite being illegal for 12 years now, hunting with hounds remains a hot political talking point.

A vote to relax the fox-hunting ban in England and Wales was due to be held in 2015, prompting protests. That was shelved when the SNP confirmed it would take part, making defeat almost certain.

And similar protests were held earlier this year, after Theresa May pledged her support for holding a free vote on repealing the ban.

The National Trust, which boasts more than five million members, issued 79 licences to 67 hunts last year.

It has revamped its rules for licensing in response to Mrs Beynon’s motion, and has advised its members to vote in favour of the new licensing terms instead of a ban.

If the motion is rejected, members will have to wait three years before they can propose it again.

Animal rights group, Native Americans to meet in Atascadero to oppose hunting amendment

https://pasoroblesdailynews.com/animal-rights-group-native-americans-meet-atascadero-oppose-hunting-amendment/76052/
“California Fish and Game Commission meets in Atascadero, allowing GPS
tracking on hunting dogs is on the agenda”

“Randal Massaro, President of Union Members for the Preservation of
Wildlife, said that the GPS collars are approved hunters will have “no
incentive to keep up with their dogs in wildlife habitat and terrain
when they can sit in vehicles and watch a screen indicating their
dogs’ ranging one to seven miles, or more.” Massaro also said the
devices violate Fish and Game codes that require dogs be kept under
control.
“Roger Dobson, President of the Northern California organization
Protect the Wolves and member of the Washington Cowlitz Tribe said,
“It is inhumane treatment of both the dogs and the wildlife to let
dogs run loose where there are real predators that have to eat. No
hunter is going to be able to get to any dog fast enough to save that
dog from another predator.”

Animal-rights group wants Arizona voters to ban hunting of mountain lions, bobcats

http://tucson.com/news/local/animal-rights-group-wants-arizona-voters-to-ban-hunting-of/article_cc140fd3-be4a-5a03-a7c9-c53fc51ff297.html

  • By Howard Fischer Capitol Media Services
  • Updated 
Mountain lions
The hunting of mountain lions and other big cats is largely considered trophy hunting.

George Andrejko / Game And Fish Department

PHOENIX — Saying there’s no reason for “trophy hunting” of mountain lions, the Humane Society of the United States is moving to get Arizona voters to outlaw the practice.

The group’s proposal for the 2018 ballot would make it illegal to pursue, shoot, snare, net or capture any “wild cat.” That specifically means bobcats and mountain lions.

As written, the ban also technically would apply to jaguars, lynx and ocelot. But those already are protected as endangered species.

“People no longer really tolerate trophy hunting,” said Kellye Pinkleton, the Humane Society’s state director. “People are not shooting them, hounding them, trapping them for subsistence.”

But Kurt Davis, a member of the Arizona Game and Fish Commission, said the number of mountain lions killed each year — about 360 in 2015, the most recent number available — simply keeps the population in check and ensures that prey species, including bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope, are not decimated.

Davis said he sees the proposed initiative as part of an effort to ban hunting entirely.

Pinkleton responded: “We do not have any blanket opposition to hunting.”

Backers of the ban on hunting big cats have until next July to gather 150,642 valid signatures on petitions to get the issue on the ballot.

The Humane Society and its local affiliate have a track record with voters. In 1994 they succeeded in getting Arizona voters to approve a ban on the use of leg-hold traps on public lands by a margin of close to 3-2.

Pinkleton noted that initiative laws have since been tightened by the Republican-controlled Legislature, with a ban on paying circulators on a per-signature basis and a requirement that petition papers be in “strict compliance” with all election laws.

But she said her organization and other allies should be able to raise the $3 million to $5 million it will take to force a public vote.

If it gets that far, it could be difficult to defeat. Davis said Arizona has a higher percentage of urban residents than any other “inland” state, meaning people less likely to go hunting.

That means the Game and Fish Commission and hunters will need to make their case that the practice should not be outlawed.

Davis said it comes down to science.

He estimated there about about 2,500 mountain lions in Arizona.

Each year the state issues more than 10,000 tags to hunt mountain lions. Davis said the commission’s experience is that, given the difficulty to actually kill one, that keeps the population in the 2,000 to 3,000 range, which he said is ideal.

Pinkleton disagreed. “The science doesn’t back up their claims,” she said.

She said the initiative would still allow killing of mountain lions in cases where they were endangering humans or killing other animals, whether a rancher’s cattle or the bighorn sheep that have been reintroduced into the Pusch Ridge Wilderness Area near Tucson.

The difference, she said, is that only the actual lions causing the problem could be hunted, versus simply telling hunters they can go out and shoot them in the area to cut down on the population.

Davis said such an approach makes little sense.

He said a 1990 initiative banning the killing of mountain lions in California now results in more of the big cats being killed by state officials to protect other species than were taken by hunters.

Pinkleton said there’s a good reason why the Arizona initiative would outlaw only the killing of wild cats.

“These essentially are killed for trophies or for fur,” she said, and for “bragging rights” about killing a lion.

“This is not deer or elk where communities are using the whole animal, whether for the meat or whatever,” she continued. “This is not a subsistence animal.”

Davis takes exception to pushing the initiative as a ban on hunting “trophy” animals.

“The notion of ‘trophy’ is a political notion that they’ve tested and polled,” with no actual legal basis, he said.

If the test of “trophy hunting” is whether hunters actually eat what they kill, that would include the hunting of coyotes, Davis said.

Beyond that, he said the initiative ignores that hunting is “a tool used by our state’s biologists … to manage our state’s wildlife.”

“Thank god … that you have hunters, both men and women sportsmen, that are willing to go out and be part of the management tools to maintain healthy populations of all of our species,” he said.

Bobcats, which Davis said number “in the thousands” in Arizona, are a different situation. They are classified the same as coyotes, raccoons and skunks, which can be hunted at all times without a special permit.

According to the Game and Fish Department, 1,300 bobcats are killed each year, on average.

Part of the debate is likely to involve methods used by some hunters.

“If a pack of dogs chases a mountain lion into a tree, and they are shot, that is not a fair chase,” Pinkleton said.

Davis countered, “That’s one of those issues that you see and hear, and it creates an emotional response.” But he said that doesn’t necessarily make it wrong.

“The traditions of using hounds to pursue lions is something that existed in our country since its foundation,” he said. Anyway, Davis said, only a “small number” of people have the ability to use dogs. “I don’t,” he said.

The numbers from the Game and Fish Department suggest that the use of dogs does make a big difference, however: Out of 324 mountain lions killed in 2015 by hunters, 247 of those were with the use of dogs.

Poaching suspects left lengthy digital trail for investigators to follow

William Haynes and Erik Martin
William Haynes, left, and Erik Martin pose for a selfie in Haynes’ pickup truck. The image was sent from Martin to his girlfriend on November 19, 2016, according to case reports. In the back of the vehicle, multiple deer can be seen. According to case reports, the deer were illegally killed in Oregon and transported across state lines to Washington.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife case report

For individuals who apparently got a thrill by stalking and illegally killing wild animals, William J. Haynes and Erik Christian Martin did a poor job of covering their own tracks.

The suspected poachers unwittingly provided law enforcement officers with a huge cache of evidence, allowing Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife investigators to build a massive case against them and five other members of an alleged poaching group.

Based on case reports reviewed by The Daily News, there’s little sign the men ever thought about getting caught.

Instead, the 23-year-old Longview residents are suspects in an investigation into the killing of more than 50 animals including deer, elk, bears and bobcats in two different states. Along the way, they left a digital trail of shocking evidence for Fish and Wildlife investigators to follow.

The painstaking task required two Fish and Wildlife officers and a sergeant, who spent a majority of the past winter and early spring diligently retracing the suspects’ bloody steps.

Investigators were also assisted by more than 30 officers from multiple agencies, including the Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Office.

“We’ve used a lot of our manpower in this region in Western Washington to accomplish this case,” Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Brad Rhoden said in an interview.

Rhoden said he doesn’t want intense interest in the case to lead to a negative perception of honest hunters.

“I don’t want anybody to view the majority of our hunters in Washington as these types of individuals,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a sportsman out there who would say this is OK.”

Haynes is facing 61 separate charges in Skamania County District Court, including 26 charges of first-degree illegal hunting of big game. All of the charges are related to the use of dogs while hunting, which is illegal in Washington without a special permit that’s only granted in specific instances. Haynes was previously convicted of second-degree unlawful hunting of big game in Cowlitz County on Oct. 3, 2013. As a result, all of Haynes’ big game charges could be considered Class C felonies, which are punishable by up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Martin, who does not have any previous violations, is facing 28 separate charges for gross misdemeanors.

In addition to Haynes and Martin, three other suspects have been named in the investigation.

They are Joseph Allen Dills, 30, of Longview; Eddy Alvin Dills, 57, of Longview; and Bryan Christopher Tretiak, 31, of Morton. All of the suspects are awaiting preliminary appearance hearings in Skamania County later this month. Two female suspects were named in the case reports but no charges have been filed against them yet.

Dills, who has bear claws and dog paws tattooed on his left arm, pleaded guilty in Wahkiakum County District Court in 2008 to second-degree unlawful hunting of big game and second-degree criminal trespassing. He’s now facing 64 separate charges, including four first-degree unlawful big game hunting charges for the illegal use of dogs.

Had Haynes and Martin known that the contents of their phones would result in so many charges, it’s possible they may have opted not to document such a staggering number of alleged illegal hunting activities.

A mountain of evidence

Based on case reports, it’s not clear if Haynes or Martin thought twice before agreeing to allow two Oregon State police officers to look through their devices on December 3, 2016.

According to reports, the troopers had stopped the men after recognizing Haynes’ Toyota pickup as the same vehicle that appeared in several images captured by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife game cameras. The motion-activated cameras were set up in response to past illegal big game hunting activity in the Mount Hood National Forest during the months of November and December.

Upon questioning, Haynes and Martin confessed to illegally killing two buck deer and a silver gray squirrel, according to reports. The two men admitted to taking only the heads of the two deer and the entire squirrel back to a house in Longview, leaving the rest of the animals to rot.

At this point, Senior Trooper Craig Gunderson requested that Washington Fish and Wildlife Sergeant Brad Rhoden assist with recovering the illegally transported deer heads.

When Rhoden arrived, Gunderson informed him that Haynes and Martin had consented to having their cell phones searched. According to reports, it was at this point that the true scale of the ensuing investigation began to emerge.

An initial look through the devices revealed numerous photos of antlered deer skulls, dead bull elk, and — perhaps most disturbing — bear hunting with the use of dogs.

Gunderson seized the phones as evidence and obtained a search warrant to have a forensic analysis performed on the devices.

On Dec. 16, 2016, Rhoden met with Gunderson and several other officers to transfer evidence from the analysis.

The contents of Haynes’ phone provided hundreds of photos and videos documenting a pattern of brutal killings on more than 20 separate occasions.

In some cases, bears were still alive as Dills’ dogs gnawed on their flesh, Rhoden said.

Martin’s phone also held numerous photos and videos of the unlawful harvest of big game.

In addition to incriminating photos, videos and text messages, the evidence included crucial metadata which allowed investigators to pinpoint exactly where the illegal killings occurred using GPS coordinates.

Investigators could not have retraced the suspects’ steps if Haynes had not granted his phone’s camera permission to access its GPS location data.

“What was most difficult about this case is that we had to pore through so many records,” Rhoden said.

Theresa May: I’m in favour of fox hunting

http://www.bbc.com/news/election-2017-39861011?SThisFB

  • 9 May 2017

Media captionTheresa May is asked about her views on fox hunting

Theresa May has indicated she will allow Conservative MPs a free vote on whether to bring back fox hunting.

The PM, who says she has always been in favour of fox hunting, said it was up to Parliament to take the decision.

Tony Blair’s Labour government introduced the Hunting Act, which bans the use of dogs to hunt foxes and wild mammals in England and Wales, in 2004.

Tory Sir Roger Gale, seeking re-election in North Thanet, said many young party members were anti-hunting.

Mrs May was asked why she was committed to bringing back fox hunting during an election event in Leeds.

She replied that this was a situation “on which individuals will have one view or the other, either pro or against”.

“As it happens, personally, I’ve always been in favour of fox hunting and we maintain our commitment – we had a commitment previously – as a Conservative Party to allow a free vote and that would allow Parliament to take a decision on this,” she said.

Her comments followed a Daily Mirror report that it had seen a leaked email from Conservative peer Lord Mancroft, chairman of the Council of Hunting Associations, in which he outlined how a Conservative landslide at the general election could result in changes.

According to the newspaper, Lord Mancroft wrote: “A majority of 50 or more would give us a real opportunity for repeal of the Hunting Act.

“This is by far the best opportunity we have had since the ban, and is probably the best we are likely to get in the foreseeable future.”

HuntingImage copyrightAP

The peer reportedly said Mrs May had offered assurances that the party’s manifesto would include a pledge to give MPs a free vote on repealing the act – something her predecessor David Cameron had also offered in 2015, but which had not yet happened.

Sir Roger Gale, president of Conservative Animal Welfare, said he would oppose any attempt to repeal the Hunting Act.

He said he understood there were around 30 to 50 anti-hunt Conservative MPs in the last Parliament, with the potential for the 2017 intake to have similar views.

“I cannot see many Conservative votes for fox hunting in marginal seats we are hoping to win,” he said.

He believed a “huge amount of parliamentary time and effort” had already been spent on the issue, with the existing law “probably as good as we can get” given the difficulty in satisfying everyone.

“We have more than enough to occupy parliamentary time with Brexit and all that follows,” he said. “In my view, it’d be folly to waste further time on the issue.”

Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said the act had “failed”, adding that he would wait and see what was contained in the Conservative manifesto.

“The case of hunting and the case against the Hunting Act remains strong – and we will continue to make the case to politicians of all parties,” he said.