Voices of Wildlife is advocating for limits to the coyote hunting season in New Hampshire. (Courtesy photo/Chrstine Schadler)
Advocacy group seeks to limit the killing animals
By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD — A Manchester-based wildlife advocacy group is looking to limit the recreational hunting season for coyotes.
Linda Dionne of Voices of Wildlife in NH maintains that the current regulations that allow hunters to shoot adult coyotes all year long, even while they are rearing their young, is both cruel and unnecessary, and that limiting the season would not stop property owners from dealing with individual conflicts with the animals.
There already are restrictions on night hunting and trapping, but Voices of Wildlife had petitioned New Hampshire Fish and Game to shorten the firearms season for coyotes. When the Fish and Game Commission denied the request, the group decided to press its case by attending the commissioners’ meeting at Gunstock Mountain Resort on Sept. 20, and it brought along Christine Schadler, the Vermont and New Hampshire representative for Project Coyote, to help make the case.
Schadler, who holds a master’s degree in conservation biology, maintains that pack animals like coyotes regulate their own populations.
“We know that hunting pressure results in responsive reproduction, which means earlier breeding and larger litters,” Schadler said. “Translation: Year-round hunting will never ‘get rid of’ or reduce coyotes, therefore we can hunt them as much as we want and the population will always rebound.”
She continued, “Research in Yellowstone [National Park] shows that their population stabilizes when hunting pressure is removed.”
She added, “As a former sheep farmer, I coexisted with coyotes for 20 years without losing a single sheep. I protected my sheep with sound management. Coyotes control rodents, particularly woodchuck whose holes threatened to the break the legs of my horse. Over 60 percent of their diet is rodents; 18 percent is deer, both scavenged and taken.”
In an article on the Voices of Wildlife website, Schadler also points out that keeping down the rodent population helps to control the spread of Lyme disease.
Paul Sanderson, legal coordinator for Fish and Game, said the department’s denial of the petition was based on a lack of supporting information.
“They expressed an opinion,” Sanderson said, “but we found no data attached to the documentation to suggest there was any undue hunting pressure during that time of the year. We recommended that a rule change was not warranted at this time because we couldn’t see any data that the species was being harmed.”
Sanderson said hunters tell him that a coyote pelt is worthless during the period of March 31 to Sept. 1, when coyotes are raising their young, so there is no economic reason to hunt them at that time. The pelts become more valuable during the winter, when they have their highest complement of fur.
“If there were hunting activities during that period, they were taken in response to coyotes being a nuisance in a particular area,” Sanderson said.
The commission’s letter of denial stated, “Our observation that very little coyote hunting by firearm actually occurs during your proposed closure prompts us to conclude that our current system strikes a good balance.”
Voices of Wildlife responded, “On the one hand, you claim that public interest doesn’t support closing the season, and on another you said that there is little hunting of coyotes going on at that time of year.”
The organization also argued, “It is often stated by the hunting community that starvation is mother nature’s cruel way of controlling the wild animal population and that hunting is a much more humane way. And yet in the case of coyotes, the starvation of pups is allowed and condoned by NHFG.”
The group wants Fish and Game to open the discussion through its rulemaking process, “where all the public interests would be given a chance to express their opinion.”
“Unfortunately, there was no reversal to NHFG’s denial to our petition during the commissioners’ meeting,” Dionne said.
Both sides acknowledged that the discussion was cordial on Wednesday, and Sanderson said all hunting rules will come up for further discussion in January, when the department does its biennial review of hunting regulations.
“The disagreement was based on the lack of hard data,” he said. “The process worked as it should.”
“Both the director and the Wildlife Division chief advised that we should try again in December or January before the January rulemaking in 2018,” Dionne said. “VoW will certainly get at it again then.”
She said Fish and Game had received 38 written comments in favor of limiting the season, which is considered to be a large number for a proposal that is not yet in the rulemaking process.
“We were treated well,” Dionne said, “and given advice on how to proceed. And proceed we will. It is time the coyote be given the respect it deserves as the important part of the ecosystem that it is.”
Voices of Wildlife wants to limit the coyote hunting season in New Hampshire to prevent the starvation of the pups left behind. (Courtesy photo/Chrstine Schadler)
- Written by Tom Caldwell
- Category: Local News
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