Information on coyote article disputed

January 24, 2014

I almost blew soda out through my nose when I read the recent column about coyotes in Delaware.  I do applaud Ron MacArthur for seeking out information, but I hate to inform him that he might have found better honest biological information from some freshman high school biology class than seek it from Fish and Wildlife Director Dave Saveikis. The most troubling issue as that many of the uninformed readers out there may have actually believed what he had to say.

Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources has one of the most abysmal records of sound wildlife management in the nation. We protected the whitetail deer far too long and it’s become a pest. We protected the gray squirrel and it’s overrun the state.  We protected the snow goose claiming we were driving it to extinction and now it’s a pest that can’t be managed.  We protected the Canada goose and now it despoils every park and playground pool in the state. We protected the red fox and were even forbade from possessing one “regardless of origin” and wondered why the small populations of quail and pheasants were eradicated. Now we have the bunny huggers protecting coyotes that are treated as vermin in every other state of the union having them.

First off, the coyote, up until recently, consisted of a single blood line (much like foxes and wolves).  I don’t know what Saveikis intended with a “cornucopia” of them, but I would hope he used the word without thinking of the definition.

To say “Any coyote taken before Jan. 11 was taken illegally,” is simply a lie that he’s been called to task on before.  The coyote is not an indigenous species and since it’s been classified as “invasive”, it enjoyed absolutely no protection under the law before Jan. 11. The U.S. Supreme Court has long expelled the argument that one can break a law that simply doesn’t exist. The coyote can’t be claimed under charter as being “protected” since it wasn’t native to Delaware. If anything he said was true, then he wouldn’t have to explain why a hunter on a state wildlife area during a managed hunt was not cited nor prosecuted for shooting a coyote that he knew about.

In another attempt to dazzle readers with gobbledygook, Saveikis claims that the new regulations are based on “modern wildlife science, with the coyote hunting and trapping seasons designed to manage the coyote population at biologically and socially acceptable levels.”  If that doesn’t achieve sensory overload, nothing will.

First off, his remark flies in the face of facts  and accuses extremely knowledgeable sources of using junk science. Remember, this is a guy who claims that the numbers of coyotes in Delaware is known by the number of road-killed animals found by DelDOT vehicles. (Using that, we don’t have many beavers, otters, minks, and eagles I suppose.)

Secondly, what are “biologically and socially acceptable levels?”  Since no “boots on the ground” surveys have been conducted, this is just another lie to baffle readers.  To give you an example, a survey was completed on whitetail deer some years back. That survey found that the “socially accepted” density of whitetails (you know, those who just love seeing deer in their yards and along the roadways) was 40 deer per square mile.  The biological level (meaning the animals have enough cover and food to lead a healthy life) was 20 deer per square mile - and only in rural areas where food and shelter were readily available.

Finally, the preface to this article  is a cheap shot at the outdoors community. Though much of the media would project us as being illiterate yahoos, they’re confounded to find out that most of us are more attuned with factual information than they are.  Our publications are filled with the nation’s very best biologists, naturalists and conservationists keeping us abreast of real world issues. We’re a self-leveling group who expel charlatans quickly. We are not frothing, slobbering killers bent on “blood sport” as some would like to believe.  We trust those in positions entrusted to make sound biological decisions to at least be as educated as we are and when we find a pretender like the current administration continues to back, we reject it.

Where did the reporter come up with the notion that “no coyotes were killed during the season”?  According to Saveikis, any shot before Jan. 11 would have been illegal to begin with. Therefore, presuming none were killed is silly.  Obviously none were reported.  Hunters and concerned land owners are simply not going to play by those “rules” Saveikis hides behind. When we know an issue is wrong, the liberals call it “social protest”. We call it shoot, shovel and shut up.

And just for edification: I have mounted two coyotes for the state agencies.  The first one was hit by a car just south of the St. Jones River on Route 1 in 1996 and the second one came from US 13 just south of Canterbury in 1998.  Using the data Saveikis is hanging on might indicate that there are a “plethora” of coyotes already established here in Delaware.

George Roof

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