Archive for the ‘problem wildlife’ Category

Coyote Bounties: It’s All political

April 23, 2010

In a recent post, I referenced a story out of Nova Scotia where the Natural Resources Minister talked of bringing in a bounty on coyotes (later revised to “considering a bounty” when he took some heat on the plan).

In the process, I discovered that Saskatchewan had actually put in place a similar bounty on coyotes this past winter.

The Saskatchewan scheme provides a $20 bounty for each verified coyote killed in the province, exactly the same as the proposal from Nova Scotia.

However, the Saskatchewan program differs in that any resident of the province can participate (with a limit of $50,000 for any single individual – which is one hell of a lot of coyotes). The program is (was) also time limited, announced on November 10th, 2009 and ending on March 31st 2010.

The reason for the bounty being put in place was to reduce predation on farm land in the province. Again, as in Nova Scotia, the rationale was for political reasons and the bounty program was used to show that the government was attuned to the needs of its constituents. In this case the very strong agricultural lobby in the province.

The bounty was actually only a part of the complete package to accommodate the farming industry. There was also a fencing assistance provision (up to $10,000) and assistance in acquiring a guard dog (up to $100). The government was also training  Conservation Officers in the use of the 1080 poison. (It surprises me that in this day and age that the Ministry of Environment would be tasked with using a poison such as 1080, which is not target specific).

As of February 2010 there had been 18,000 coyotes killed under the program. It was also noted that there had been 18,000 coyotes killed for fur the previous year with average kill of 21,000 in most years. Which would appear that the government has so far subsidized the normal winter kill with a $20 subsidy, which comes to $360,000 for coyotes that apparently would have been killed anyway. It will be interesting to find out what the total kill was when the program ended on March 31st and what the cost to the taxpayers was.

Regardless, I would suggest that this is simply another political and ill-conceived program that once again leaves the perception that something is being done to solve a perceived problem while not really accomplishing a lot. The one good thing about the program is that it was set up for a specified and limited time frame.

The problem with this kind of program is that it applies a scatter-gun approach to the problem.The coyotes being killed will not necessarily be taken from the areas where there is a predation problem, so although you may kill a bunch of coyotes you won’t necessarily be targeting those that are causing the problems.

If there is a serious predation problem on agricultural lands it would be far more effective to target coyotes in those specific areas. But to do that wouldn’t require a bounty system and wouldn’t enable the politicians to issue press releases and announce their intent to solve the problem by throwing money at it. It would also require some manpower and actual planning and execution.

Another question that comes to mind is, if farmers and ranchers are having some problems with coyotes on their land, why aren’t they solving the problem on their own. Why are taxpayer’s dollars needed to encourage them to go out and reduce the coyote population in their area? And don’t for a moment think that many of those very same individuals who have complained to the government about predation problems weren’t out there this winter shooting coyotes and collecting their $20 per animal from the bounty program.

I was under the (apparently mistaken) impression that the old bounty systems had been proven to be inefficient, ineffective and ultimately corrupt many years ago. But obviously when political considerations come into play the experiences of years past mean nothing.

To go back to Nova Scotia for a moment, some of the discussion has gone past bounties to extermination.

Nova Scotia should completely “exterminate” its coyote population, some Colchester County councillors believe.
“Bounties don’t work,” Coun. Mike Cooper said, during this week’s council session. “You might as well get rid of them. They’re hunting in packs now.”

I’m sure that was a well thought out rationale, non-political opinion.

Why we get stupid laws and regulations

April 16, 2010

On numerous occasions I have belaboured the point that we get laws on the books that really make no sense from a practical point of view and those laws have just ended up there because lawmakers need to look as though they are “doing something” to solve a perceived problem.

Not necessarily always a real problem, but something that the public or the government perceives to be a problem. Or even worse, a non-existent problem that is manufactured to serve someone’s personal agenda.

Case in point: The Nova Scotia government’s stated intention to place a bounty on coyotes in the province.

But first, some background:

Back in October 2009 a 19 year old girl – Taylor Mitchell, a folk singer from Toronto – was attacked and killed by coyotes while hiking in Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Highland National Park.

That certainly put the spotlight on to the coyote population in the province and complaints came in that coyotes were getting much bolder around humans.

In January 2010, there was a complaint from a man who felt threatened by a pair of coyotes that approached aggressively.

All of this apparently has spooked the provincial government in to believing that they now need to do something to show that they have the situation under control. Their solution – at least their stated solution – is to bring in a bounty on coyotes in the province.

Five months after a young woman was mauled to death by coyotes on a Cape Breton trail, the Nova Scotia government is poised to offer trappers a bounty for the animals to ease fears they are becoming more aggressive.

John MacDonell, the province’s natural resources minister, said Wednesday he has to act because of three additional reports of close encounters with coyotes within the past week. A final decision is expected Friday.

“It’s better to be pro-active and assume that it would help a little rather than do nothing and worry about somebody possibly being hurt by these animals,” he said in an interview.

Which would be fine and dandy if there was any proof that a bounty system would solve the problem. A lot of people think it’s hokum.

But the head of the province’s Federation of Anglers and Hunters said a bounty would be a waste of taxpayers’ money, motivated by politics rather than science.

Tony Rodgers, the federation’s executive director, said MacDonell should think twice about the controversial move.

“It cannot be based on emotion,” Rodgers said. “This is part of the problem we’ve experienced in past years when politicians started making biological decisions. They haven’t got it right yet.”

He said killing more coyotes won’t make them more afraid of humans.

“No message will be sent back to the rest of the pack,” he said, adding the money for the bounty should instead be used to educate Nova Scotians on how to reduce confrontations with wild animals.

And:

….. Rodgers said it’s a mistake to think the province’s 8,000 coyotes are getting more aggressive.

He said the real problem is that one of the coyote’s main sources of food, the snowshoe hare, is at the bottom of a seven-year population cycle and hungry coyotes are simply looking for food.

As well, biologists within MacDonell’s own department have confirmed bounties are ineffective. A provincial bounty introduced in 1982 was removed four years later when it became clear it had no impact on coyote populations.

“It totally flies in the face of what his department has been saying for years,” said Rodgers.

R.A. Lautenschlager, executive director of the Atlantic Canada Conservation Data Centre, said targeting individual animals that pose a threat to humans, rather than all coyotes, is a better approach.

“That’s one of the problems with bounties – there’s not necessarily any selection,” he said from his office in Sackville, N.B.

But here’s the rub -

MacDonell confirmed he is planning to offer a bounty worth about $20 to members of Trappers’ Association of Nova Scotia, whose members caught 1,900 coyotes last year without a bounty.

While he conceded that a bounty would have little impact on the coyote population, he stressed that he felt compelled to do something. (emphasis added)

“I have a concern over who might be attacked or hurt or mauled,” he said. “I know (residents) are not going to call the head of the anglers and hunters if that happens – I’m going to get that call. It’s my responsibility to be more pro-active.”

He said he hopes a bounty will change the coyotes behaviour.

So the Minister actually believes that the bounty will have little effect on coyote behaviour.

But to cover his ass for future indiscretions on the part of their little provincial predator he is willing to use taxpayers dollars to put in place a job enhancement program for the benefit of local trappers.

Knowing how governments seem to work everywhere, that will probably be the full extent of the program.

There is never money available to analyse and assess whether the program is effective and it is unlikely that the trappers would be able to operate in a National Park where the initial tragedy took place anyway.

As well, these laws are rarely set up with end dates, so the bounty program would no doubt carry on long past any reasonable time frame.

In the end it would be a cash cow for the trapping fraternity, who would be guaranteed an extra $20 for every coyote they trapped on top of the fur value. Which certainly would help keep their personal wolves away from the door.

BUT – The politicians will have DONE SOMETHING.

And that’s how we get dumb and useless laws on the books.

The world is full of idiots

October 24, 2008

There was a story earlier this month where a B.C. man was attacked by a black bear and saved himself by killing the bear by hitting it with a (big) stick. In the process he was badly mauled.

Jim West, 45, was out walking last Saturday morning with his two dogs near 70 Mile House, about halfway between Kamloops and Williams Lake, when he came face to face with an angry mother bear.

“I turned [when] I heard a grunt. All I saw was eyes full of hatred … I had no option … So I stuck my foot up and tried to kick her in the face,” he said.

The bear then attacked him, knocking him to the ground, and West soon found himself on the losing side of an ill-matched fight.

“I rolled onto my stomach and clasped my hands at the back of my neck. She tore into my skull at the back of my head, moved over and bit me on the left side of my body, on my ribs and left arm,” said West.

Knowing he would likely soon be dead unless he fought back, the injured West managed to get to his feet and picked up a stick about as thick as his arm.

You would think that would be the end of the story. Man is attacked by bear and successfully defends himself. Good human interest story. Too bad for the bear, especially as there were two cubs that had to be put down by Conservation Officers after the fact. But what are you going to do? Let the bear kill you? I think not.

As a matter of fact, that is apparently what some people think he should have done.

A B.C. man who clubbed a bear to death in self-defence is now defending himself from a smear campaign.

Jim West of 70 Mile House says angry animal-rights crusaders have been harassing him at home and impersonating him in e-mails to media outlets.

“I figure this is someone from PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] because I’ve had some people tracking me down and giving me the gears,” said Mr. West, 45.

“I really hate that. I hate confrontations of any kind. I try to be as polite as possible. I’m sorry, but it was simply a life-or-death situation,” he said yesterday.

PETA spokesman Martin Mersereau denied any involvement in the smear campaign.

***

Since then, e-mails have been sent to The Province in Mr. West’s name, attempting to debunk his story.

In the e-mails, someone impersonating Mr. West says the dogs started the confrontation by chasing the bears up a tree. The e-mails go on to say that Mr. West stood below the tree, waiting to attack the bear when it came down.

But Mr. West is sticking to his story.

“I’m sorry that the cubs had to be put down. I’m sorry I had to kill that bear, but she wouldn’t be sorry if she had killed me,” he said.

Mr. West says he’s also been receiving phone calls.

“One woman asked me why I killed the bear and why I didn’t run away. Well, you can’t outrun a mother bear,” said Mr. West who is recovering from the 60 stitches to his skull, upper lip and left arm he received in the attack.

“It was a matter of survival and I’m sorry people are upset about it, but it was live or die.”

There are those who believe that man’s natural habitat is highrise apartments, paved parking lots and fast food restaurants. They believe that we should never venture into the backcountry and anyone who wanders into the bears “world” deserves what ever happens. In this scenario Mr. West was at fault for the bear’s attack simply because he was there. If he had stayed at home the bears would be alive and the world would be at one with itself.

Anyone who believes this is seriously out of touch with reality.

I feel sorry for those who never experience the world beyond the confines of paved roads and man made fences. There is always an element of risk when you step into natural country.  As the saying goes, when you step into the backcountry you need to be aware that you are at the bottom end of the food chain.

Jim West elevated himself just a little bit above that line when he went tooth and nail against a determined and aggressive bear. He certainly has my respect.

If you go down to the woods today…….

August 13, 2008

Is it just my imagination or is it getting more dangerous out in the woods – or even in the suburbs?

By dangerous I mean more attacks by big fanged animals that are normally supposed to run away and hide when they see homo superior come swaggering into the neighbourhood.

Here are a few of the recent stories:

‘Awestruck and in total panic’, Yukon man survives grizzly attack. (August 10, 2008.)

A man from Haines Junction, Yukon, is crediting a smart dog, a sturdy tree and a can of bear spray with saving him from a recent grizzly bear attack.

Bob Hayes said he came across the grizzly sow on Aug. 3, while running with his dog on a recreational trail just outside Haines Junction.

“When I saw her, she was already charging me,” Hayes told CBC News in an interview Friday afternoon.

“I saw this immense instant attack coming at me, and I kind of exclaimed something that … probably most people would exclaim,” he added with a chuckle.

Montana man shoots, kills home invading cougar. (August 9, 2008.)

A Townsend man said he had “a little excitement to start the morning” when a mountain lion launched itself through a closed window at his home and tore apart a room in his basement.

Scott Vine, a 45-year-old ranch worker, said the female adolescent cat set off an alarm on his property at about 6:30 a.m. Thursday.

“My dogs started raising hell,” said Vine, whose wife and two stepchildren, ages 14 and 20, were also home at the time. “I looked out the window and there was a lion.” Vine said he grabbed his rifle moments before the mountain lion crashed into his house.

“That window exploded,” he said. “All of the sudden I had glass, I had curtain, I had lion coming over my head.”

Vine retreated upstairs as the 60- to 70-pound feline made its way to the basement, where it knocked items from shelves and clawed at the walls. Vine and a friend who brought a shotgun and a rifle with him killed the animal about 20 minutes later.

Jogger attacked by grizzly in Anchorage park (August 9, 2008.)

For the second time in six weeks, an Anchorage resident has been mauled by a grizzly bear in Far North Bicentennial Park.

The woman, who has yet to be identified, was reported to be jogging along Campbell Creek around 6 p.m. Friday evening when she was attacked by a sow with two cubs. What is believed to be the same bear has been involved in a variety of aggressive confrontations with people since June.

Colorado hiker, shoots, kills mountain lion (August 7, 2008.)

A man shot and killed a mountain lion north of New Castle Tuesday night after the animal came too close to him and his wife, according to the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Randy Hampton, a spokesman for the DOW, said the agency received a call about the shooting a little after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. It occurred on the Main Elk Road north of New Castle, he said.

The man and his wife were out for a walk in the area when the mountain lion came out of the brush and was in a “crouch position,” Hampton said. The couple’s names were not immediately available late Wednesday.

“(The mountain lion) began to approach them,” he said. “The husband was carrying a firearm, and he shot and killed the lion as it got really close.”

Alaska teen versus grizzly: “I got her good”. (August 5, 2008.)

Devon Rees could have played dead. Or run. Instead, he chose to fight the bear that lunged out of the woods near his home in Eagle River on Monday morning.

And, though he ended up with a harvest of cuts and bruises, he survived.

“I definitely earned my bragging rights boxing a bear,” said Rees, 18. “It got me a couple of times, and I got her a good couple of times. I wasn’t going to give the bear an easy target.”

B.C. woman mauled by black bear in suburban garden (August 7, 2008.)

Neighbours rushed to the rescue when they saw a black bear mauling a Coquitlam woman in her front garden yesterday.

“We basically came out of our driveway and we heard screams,” said neighbour Mike Cillo, a 56-year-old cab driver who was with his son Christian, 12.

“We saw the woman in her driveway and the bear was on top of her, chewing on her. I drove my van up and leaned on the horn to try to scare the bear, but he just grabbed her by the arm and dragged her toward the front entrance.

Second bear threatens Coquitlam home (August 7, 2008.)

Police shot and killed a huge black bear that had broken into a basement suite in Coquitlam, B.C., Thursday morning, RCMP said.

It was the second bear sighting in the suburban Vancouver community in the past two days. On Wednesday morning, officers killed another bear that had mauled a Coquitlam woman in her yard in the Westwood Plateau area.

Grizzly tangles with Yellowstone firefighter (August 12, 2008.)

A hotshot firefighter battling the 4,700-acre LeHardy fire in Yellowstone National Park was back to work Monday, only a day after being roughed up by a grizzly bear escaping the blaze.

Tony Allabastro, a member of the Lewis and Clark Forest Service hotshot crew based in Great Falls, reportedly saw the bear over his shoulder, coming from where his crew had been doing controlled burns, Sandy Hare, public information officer for the LeHardy fire, said Monday.

Before he had a chance to get his bear spray, the grizzly pounced on him and “roughed him up,” Hare said. The bear was “acting instinctually.”

Mountain lion in bedroom kills family dog (August 6, 2008.)

A mountain lion crept through an open door into a house outside Denver, snatched a Labrador retriever from a bedroom where two people were sleeping and left the dog’s dead body outside, wildlife managers said Tuesday.

No one else was hurt in the home about 14 miles southwest of Denver.

Wildlife officials later trapped the 130-pound male cat using the dog’s body as bait and fatally shot it.

Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Tyler Baskfield said the cat entered the house through open French doors early Monday and fled with the Labrador after the owners woke up.

“The people got up and looked around and saw the mountain lion’s tail leaving the house,” Baskfield said.

This last one reminds me of stories I used to read of marauding leopards in Africa.

There are a lot more stories that could be posted.

Although I wouldn’t be able to prove it, it seems to me that these attacks are becoming more frequent. Whether or not this is actually the case, I wouldn’t go traipsing about in the bush without some kind of protection, whether it be pepper spray or a firearm.

The modern difficulties in dealing with problem wildlife

July 8, 2008

The world has become a much more difficult place when dealing with problem wildlife issues, especially when today’s animal rights philosophies come into play. Even when professionals try to do not only the right thing, but the only thing, they run into opposition from people and organizations with opposing agendas.

This was brought to mind by a recent article regarding the plan by the US Fish & Wildlife Service to eliminate or at least severely reduce feral cats on San Nicholas Island off the coast of California in order to further protect endangered bird populations on the island.

As to be expected, there was an uproar with the plan being called “misguided and inhumane” as well as “irresponsible, cruel and simply unacceptable.”

The absolutely silliest comment was a quote by a spokeswoman from an organization called Alley Cat Allies, which is an advocate group for feral cats, who said:

….there is no proof that the cats are eating the birds. Though bird remains have been found in cat stomachs, she said the birds could have been dead when the cats ate them.

“They honestly have no solid proof that these cats are killing the
birds,” she said. “They are not making an effect on the population.”

This is from someone who is supposed to know something about cats? Cats are natural born killers. They live to hunt and kill. Your well-fed cuddly old house cat will haunt the bird feeders of the neighbourhood, stalking and killing songbirds. The cat doesn’t need the food but the instincts are strong. Those feral cats don’t affect the bird populations on the island? Get serious.

The message apparently being that it is more important to protect feral cats than endangered bird populations.

In Surrey, B.C. the problem lies with beavers. These furry little dam builders regularly move in and construct dams in areas that threaten to flood homes, buildings and farmlands. To control this problem the city traps and kills these specific animals.

City staffers point out that there are hundreds of sites in the Surrey area where beavers are left to their own devices. They also note that relocating the animals out of problem areas is not an option, because they are territorial creatures and will do battle with interlopers which is why the Ministry of Environment bans relocations.

However a former Vancouver parks commissioner and animal advocate Roslyn Cassells says that trapping and killing the problem beavers is “inhumane, cruel, and unethical.”

It seems we have heard that mantra before.

Unfortunately there is no other practical solution. Some property owners say they have abandoned beaver dams on their property and they would adopt a beaver. But that option, even if viable, is extremely limited. But practicalities have no place in this discussion.

Mayor Dianne Watts, back in her office today after a trip to China, has called for relocating beavers. “I do not support the killing of wildlife,” she said in a statement.

Way to support your staff! Maybe the mayor will personally solve the problem by taking the surplus toothy little fellows home with her.

It may be this philosophy that drove the city of Helena-West Helena, Arkansas to solve their failed animal shelter problem by simply turning unwanted dogs loose in the national forest. Sure, it’s illegal and the dogs might starve out there but at least you don’t have people telling you that you’re “inhumane, cruel and unethical,”

Gopher hunting in SW Saskatchewan

June 14, 2008

Just in the process of making a quick trip back to Saskatchewan to visit family and took to opportunity to do a little gopher shooting in the South-west near Hazenmore.

For the past few years I have been reading about the gopher infestation in the area and have been curious to see how bad it was. Then this year the federal government approved the use of strychnine in Saskatchewan by the local farmers and ranchers to reduce the gopher population so I figured it was now or never.

The poisoning work had already begun and local farmers I talked to said that the numbers were certainly reduced, but there were still a lot of gophers around. What was amazing was the visibility everywhere of their digs. Just driving along Highway 13 you could see the evidence in the fields alongside the road. On the rural roads it was impossible to avoid running over animals. They were spread through pastureland, cultivated land and even burrowed into creek banks like muskrats.

The local farmer whose land I shot on has had shooters come in from all over the country: As far away as Ontario to the East and Northern B.C to the West, and he was happy to see them.

The shooting wasn’t fast and furious, but it was steady. Every time you thought things had come to a halt some more gophers would show up. And it wasn’t ideal weather either. Not overly warm nor was it sunny. There had been a lot of rain in the area in recent days and I had originally thought the day might be a washout – no pun intended.

I probably shot upwards of 70 gophers from about 3:00 PM to 8:30 PM, all using .22 rimfires. In the interest of avoiding psychological trauma to urban gopher aficionados I took no pictures of the mayhem I participated in. Anyway, who wants to look at pictures of dead gophers.

In the end the landowner was happy that I had contributed to the reduction of his gopher herd and I had spent an afternoon reliving the shooting days of my youth. I would have liked to have gone back another day, but rain moved back in to Southern Saskatchewan, which made gopher shooting impossible and the locals so happy that I couldn’t see fit to complain about the weather affecting my personal agenda.

Wolves on the prowl

January 6, 2008

As I was looking through some end of the year stories, I came upon this one. A couple of wolves in the Fort Nelson area moving in on a man snow machining with some kids, showing no fear of the humans or the Rottweiler that intercepted them.

The wolves appeared quietly at about 3:30 p.m. on Dec. 22, as darkness was creeping in on the winter wonderland 100 kilometres east of Fort Nelson, where the families were tobogganing.

About 30 metres away, a sleighful of three children — one aged four and the others aged three — were being happily towed along the base of a hill by an all-terrain vehicle.

Father Kyle Keays was oblivious to the danger until he suddenly heard his wife’s shriek from the top of the hill.

Shadow, their Rottweiler-cross, had broken from the grasp of Keays’ wife and was bounding down the hill toward the wolves, who were moving in toward the children.

“I looked back and saw my dog intercept the lead wolf — there were two of them. They were heading towards the kids and the dog came in,” said 36-year-old Keays, who was riding on a separate ATV.

This made me think of the story from 2005 regarding the killing of the young man in Saskatchewan and how there was great resistance on the part of some people to blame it on a bear attack rather than on wolves, although the inquest eventually concluded it was a wolf attack.

 

Since then there have been a few others. One was an attack on a kayaker on B.C.’s north coast:

A kayaker’s life-and-death struggle with a hungry wolf on B.C.’s remote north coast — the second wolf attack in the province in seven years, and the first thought to involve predatory intent — has prompted a conservation officer to warn against taking wolf encounters too lightly.

“This was a predatory wolf attack,” conservation officer James Zucchelli confirmed in an interview from his Bella Coola Valley office. “That fellow was perceived as a prey source. He was attacked with intent to eat. The wolf saw him and took off running at him.”

Zucchelli cautioned against public alarm since such incidents are extremely rare, adding he’s not heard of another predatory attack during his eight years as a conservation officer.

 

There have been others, but just recently a news item out of Montana described a cat hunter’s dogs being attacked by a wolf pack with one dog being killed and another severely wounded.

Joe Kerney said he was on a hunt Dec. 31, when he released two grown hounds and a pup on a mountain lion track in the Rogers Lake area. After a chase of less than a mile, the hounds were baying.

They went up this draw and it sounded like they had a cat treed,” said Kerney, who was pursuing not far behind.

All of a sudden, I heard a dog fight going on,” he said.

As Kerney approached the noise, he saw “two dogs on a dead run toward me. There was something wrong, because they don’t quit hunting.”

These incidents are cerainly not common but they do seem to be increasing in number. Probably due to more people encroaching on their range and in the case of Montana wolves being transplanted, and flourishing, in an already populated and increasingly urbanized area.

Although the popular mantra has been that wolves will not attack humans – disproved by the killing of the unfortunate man in Saskatchewan – I can remember reading a couple of separate stories many years where a couple of old trappers in the Yukon/Alaska area were convinced that they had been hunted by wolf packs. In the one case the fellow spent the night in a tree while the wolves roamed around below him. In the second case the trapper related how the wolves made passes at him, coming closer each time, until he fired some shots at them and they moved off. He was convinced that they were making test runs prior to a serious attack.

There is no question that wolves are hell on dogs. Prince Rupert has had its problems in this respect, with the most recent being this past December where wolves attacked a dog on the local golf course.

And although the Saskatchewan tragedy was reported as the only fatal wolf attack on a human in North America, a friend of mine sent me this old newspaper article from 1963.

Winnipeg Free Press
By: Gerald McNebl
November 18, 1963

QUEBEC (CP) — Game experts are generally sceptical about stories of wolves, attacking humans, but there is strong evidence to. support belief that five-year-old Marc Leblond was killed by one Sept. 24 north of Baie-Comeau, Que. An autopsy showed he was killed by a savage animal and authorities at Baie-Comeau, 225 miles northeast of here, are convinced it was a wolf. If so, it would be the first authenticated case in Canada of a wolf killing a human. Even reports of wolves attacking humans. are rare. Dr. Louis Lemieux, director of Quebec’s fish and wildlife management service, can recall only one—that of a man who reported fighting off a wolf in Northern Ontario several years ago. Of the death of Marc Leblond, he says “it could happen” that a wolf killed him, but if so it would be as unusual as the case at Sept-Hes, Que., last year in which an airman was savagely attacked by an owl.

Shoot On Sight
Police and hunters at Baie-Comeau are shooting wolves on sight, though few have been seen near inhabited areas. The Leblonds, from Godbout, Que., had-rented a summer cottage for a week at an isolated lake north of Baie-Comeau. It was about 25 miles from the Manicouagan hydro-electric development where Mr. Leblond worked. He commuted each day on
an access road. Workers have often seen wolves near the road. Frank Auger, Quebec-Hydro police chief at Bale -Comeau, says Marc and his three-yearold brother had been outside playing for a few minutes Sept. 24 when their parents heard a commotion. The y o u n g e r boy rushed screaming into the house. The parents unable to find Marc, thought he had drowned and called police. A search of the lake revealed nothing, but two policemen and foreman Leon Verrault of Quebec-Hydro found the torn body in the forest after a brief search.

Tracks Near Body
They also saw a wolf lurking 50 yards off. Unarmed, they were unable to shoot it but Verrault, an experienced hunter, described it as “a grey timber wolf weighing about 80 pounds.” Tracks of two wolves surrounded the body. Later that day an armed group scoured the area, shot at a wolf but missed. Examination by Dr. Jacques Beaumont, the district coroner, convinced Auger the boy was killed by a wolf. Wolves follow the same pattern in killing deer. Auger says there are no wild dogs, in the area and there were no signs of other animals near the body. He says Manicouagan workers workers have r e p o r t e d being watched by wolves – “They threw stones at them but the wolves didn’t go away” – along the access road. There had never been a report of an attack however.

Bounties Halted
“We’ve seen all kinds of them in this, district but this is the first time in 20 years of police work I’ve had a case like this,” Auger said. Yet he is convinced the Leblond boy was killed by a wolf and he has ordered his men to kill them on sight. Quebec quit giving bounties for wolves in 1961 and now sends professional trappers into areas where they are killing cattle or s h e e p . A trapper hasn’t been sent to Baie-Comeau. There evidently are thousands of wolves – the largest on record 136 pound – north of the St. Lawrence but Dr. Lemieux says they are rarely seen even by hunters.

The story sounds very plausible as small children are certainly more at risk around any kind of predator, even the much smaller coyote.

I think it only goes to show that when you step into the bush you always need to consider the fact that you are at the bottom end of the food chain.

Common sense prevails in Colorado cougar shooting

October 16, 2007

Common sense prevailed in the case of the Colorado man who shot a cougar that was attacking his dog. There will be no charges laid.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife will not file charges against a man who shot and killed a mountain lion that he said was attacking his puppy early Oct. 5, spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said Thursday.

Officials found that Jeremy Kocar, 31, “acted to prevent injury to human life,” Churchill said.

The Wildlife branch appears to have avoided some further negative publicity by ignoring the attack on the dog and focusing on the danger to family.

Common sense didn’t extend to all interested parties.

Advocates with the Boulder-based Sinapu Carnivore Protection Program said Kocar should face criminal charges in the incident for “baiting” the lion by leaving the dog tied up outside overnight.

When you read crap like this you more fully understand the philosophy of “shoot, shovel and shut up”.

Does Colorado Wildlife really believe that your dog is cat food?

October 12, 2007

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is considering charging a man for shooting a cougar that was in the process of killing his 8 month old pup.

Colorado Department of Wildlife spokesperson Jennifer Churchill explained it thusly:

“We do have laws that allow people to protect their safety and their livestock,” Churchill said. “But this is the tricky gray area of it being a dog.”According to Colorado law, it’s legal “to trap, kill or otherwise dispose of bears, mountain lions or dogs in situations when it is necessary to prevent them from inflicting death or injury to livestock or human life.”

So by this thought process, if the lion is killing your cow you are justified but if it’s killing your dog you have to stand there and watch. Not likely.

I can’t believe that they would even think about charging this guy but if they stick to the letter of the law and actually press charges I would hope that the judge would throw the case so hard out the door that it would have road burn.

Common sense appears to be in short supply in the world these days.

Sharing your world with bears

August 27, 2007

We have come to expect strong alternate opinions on problem wildlife management when it happens in urban areas. There is always a strong and vocal contingent who are appalled when a problem animal is killed by conservation officers. If it is a bear, they inevitably argue that the animal should be trapped and relocated rather than being shot.

I wouldn’t normally think of a community like Ocean Falls, on the central B.C. coast having those same problems. But their situation is even more complex.

Ocean Falls’ problem with bears isn’t the occasional one that wanders into town and decides that foraging through the human garbage is the easy life. Their problem is that they are smack dab in the middle of bear country with an old townsite that is overgrown with berry bushes and has a salmon spawning river nearby.

There are obviously mixed feelings within the community regarding the bears and how they should be handled.

Even within our community the issue of bears is contentious. One local went to jail for 8 months for assaulting someone else from the community for shooting a bear on his property. The bear was a trouble free and welcome regular guest on his property and in the berry patch next door. Up until this point the community mostly dealt with bear problems on its own without conservation officers becoming directly involved. Because of the animosity created over this unfortunate incident local people capable of dealing with problem bears became hesitant to take on the responsibility and subsequently conservation officers took direct responsibility.

But there were problems with bringing the COs to do the work as well.

The times the conservation officers were here they proceeded to kill all the bears in the vicinity. The number of bears killed on their last trip varies according to who you talk to, the officer involved says 12 bears, others say 18 to 35. No one went to jail on this occasion but the officers created such animosity with their methods and interaction with the community that people eventually stalked them to warn off the bears.

Once you bring in the COs and tell them you want them to solve your bear problem they have only one viable solution. You shoot the obvious bears and it sounds as though there were lots of obvious bears in Ocean Falls. If they try to pick and choose and someone gets chewed by a bear that they left standing, where does the liability lie?

But the crux of this story turns out to be a couple of orphaned cubs that were in their second year of hanging around the townsite, one of which was shot by COs when they were called in a second time to deal with problem bears.

From my point of view, this is the silly part of the story.

Ironically a few hours after the cub was shot and just as the float plane with the officers on board flew past my house on its way out of town the surviving cub came onto my property. For the first time I felt it was a threat to me as it was ill tempered and aggressive. I would be to if my twin had just been shot. I hope this bear settles down again or it to will need to be shot. If the issue arises hopefully we can deal with it from within the community.

These cubs were probably guaranteed to become a problem in the community as they never were “bush” bears. And the writer’s comment about the agressiveness of the remaining cub seems to confirm that. But it was aggressive because the other cub was shot? Give me a break.

I don’t know what the solution is for the Ocean Falls’ community when it comes to their bear problems. No matter what the writer says they could probably use a better system to control the accessibility of their local garbage. Regardless of the draw that the salmon resource and the berry patches have in bringing bears into the area, local garbage is just going to exacerbate the problem.

Before this situation turned ugly, during my discussions with the officers they agreed that someone local who was licensed for firearms could deal with bears that were deemed a danger to the community as long as the Conservation Office was informed.

But that might not be a solution either as it sounds as if the community is quite polarized on the issue and any individual who takes on the role of bear control will no doubt end up being the villain.

The final paragraph in the posting leaves one with the feeling that the whole issue has gone beyond community safety and problem animals.

Unfortunately the common use of genocidal brute force to protect *our* territory is not restricted to Ocean Falls or towards other species. The aggressive military control of humans felt to be a threat to other human communities both historically and in the present day glaringly displays the deplorable moral state of humanity. I don’t know what the answer is but I do know that attempting to kill all perceived threats just increases the scope of the problem. If we hope to survive as a species we need to do better.

We are now into management of problem wildlife through philosophy. That will work until someone gets chewed.


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