A National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests

We are beyond killing animals for prizes and fun,” she told National Public Radio. “This should be part of our history books.” ~ Camila Fox, Project Coyote

The National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests applies the combined expertise and experience of our member organizations to work toward ending wildlife killing contests, derbies, and tournaments in the United States.

Coalition Goals:

Expose the prevalence of wildlife killing contests (WKCs) across the US, which are organized events where participants compete for cash and prizes for killing a wide variety of wild animal species.

Raise public awareness about how WKCs disrupt ecological function and health, degrade the value of individual animals, teach disrespect for wildlife, and inflict and promote cruelty to animals.

Featured image of coyote by John E Marriott

Inspire and promote grassroots action to end WKCs through legislation, regulatory reform, and litigation.

Support efforts by organizations and individuals to prohibit and end WKCs nationwide, at every jurisdictional level.

Advocate for responsible, humane, and ecologically sound wildlife management practices, focused on coexistence and scientifically credible non‐lethal methods of conflict resolution.

Promote dialogue with WKC sponsors to encourage them to stop supporting these events, and to view wildlife as essential components of healthy ecosystems rather than as pests, vermin, or targets in competitive killing contests

“Scientific evidence does not support the notion that indiscriminately killing coyotes through events such as the Georgia Coyote Challenge is an effective wildlife management practice,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, a national organization based in Marin County, California.

Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin has joined this important effort to end wildlife killing contests along with 27 other member organizations.

The latest news on the effort to end wildlife killing contests was a Media Release from Project Coyote.

Coalition of scientists and more than 25 wildlife protection groups ask Georgia officials to cancel statewide coyote killing contest.


ATLANTA, Georgia—Today a coalition of scientists with Project Coyote and more than 25 wildlife and animal protection organizations that are part of the National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests (“Coalition”) delivered two letters to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Commissioner Mark Williams, and Georgia Wildlife Resources Division Rusty Garrison, urging the cancellation of the controversial “Georgia Coyote Challenge.”

To view a copy of the National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests’ letter, please click here.

To view a copy of Project Coyote’s science letter, click here.

To read Project Coyote’s Notes from the Field interview with Dr. Chris Mowry, click here.

Related: Project Coyote’s exposé about wildlife killing contests, KILLING GAMES: Wildlife In The Crosshairs, is now receiving excellent reviews in film festivals across the U.S. In early May, the Humane Society of the United States released a video of its undercover investigation revealing the callous and brutal reality of wildlife killing contests.

The National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests applies the combined expertise and experience of its 27 member organizations to work toward ending wildlife killing contests, derbies, and tournaments in the United States.

Photograph by Ron Niebrugge

Sneak Peek at Project Coyote’s short film “Killing Games – Wildlife in the Crosshairs”

On any given weekend, some of America’s most iconic wild animals are massacred in wildlife killing contests. Bloodied bodies are weighed and stacked like cords of wood, and prizes are awarded to the “hunters” who kill the largest or the most of a targeted species. More information.

Coyotes, bobcats, wolves and foxes are common victims of these contests; children as young as 10 are encouraged to participate. Fueled by anti-predator bias, these legally sanctioned but relatively unknown contests are cruel and foster ignorance about the critical role apex predators play in maintaining healthy ecosystems. These contests occur on both public and private lands in almost every state except California — where killing predators for prizes has been outlawed. In KILLING GAMES, a groundbreaking exposé, actor, conservationist and Project Coyote Advisory Board Member Peter Coyote — with environmentalists, ranchers, public officials and Native Americans — brings these shadowy contests to light and speaks out against this hidden war on wildlife. Project Coyote’s KILLING GAMES inspires viewers to call on their state and local legislators to bring an end to these brutal contests where wild animals become living targets. More information.

Director and Producer Camilla H. Fox is the founder and executive director of Project Coyote- a national non-profit organization based in northern California that promotes coexistence between people and wildlife and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. With more than 25 years of experience working on behalf of wildlife and wildlands and a master’s degree in wildlife ecology, policy, and conservation, Camilla’s work has been featured in several films, books and national media outlets. A frequent speaker on these issues, Camilla has authored more than 70 publications and is co-author of Coyotes in Our Midst, co-editor and lead author of the book, Cull of the Wild, producer of the award-winning documentary Cull of the Wild ~ The Truth Behind Trapping and most recently, producer and director of the film KILLING GAMES: Wildlife in the Crosshairs. Camilla has served as an appointed member on the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture’s National Wildlife Services Advisory Committee and currently serves on several national non-profit advisory boards. In 2006, Camilla received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Marin Humane Society and the Christine Stevens Wildlife Award from the Animal Welfare Institute. She was named one of the 100 Guardian Angels of the Planet in 2013 and the 2014 Conservationist of the Year Award by the John Muir Association. In 2015 she was honored with the Grassroots Activist of the Year Award by the Fund for Wild Nature. Read more here.

A review…

“Killing one, ten, twenty or more wild animals is most assuredly not a game—all animals deserve our deepest respect, regard, and compassion. KILLING GAMES ~ Wildlife In The Crosshairs exposes the barbaric practice of slaughtering coyotes, bobcats, wolves and other wild animals for prizes and “fun.” Thank you, Project Coyote, for bringing to the forefront this cruel and ineffective “wildlife management” method. We at Born Free, who work to conserve and protect wild animals and to end their exploitation, encourage everyone to watch this groundbreaking film, and to take action to end these shameful killing contests.”

~Will Travers & Virginia McKenna Born Free

Killing is Not Conservation…

…The idea that only man is equipped for conserving our planet’s natural resources is a dying concept; dying right along with the untold numbers of wild sentient beings killed in the name of conservation. Such problems drive home a critical flaw in the paradigm of conserving wildlife. In the state of Wisconsin alone coyotes are hunted year round because they’re considered vermin that need to be exterminated. It’s about time we work towards changing the paradigm of killing to conserve. It’s going to take a major shift in thinking that will require opening up lines of communication between the general public; specifically with interests in conserving our natural resources for future generations to come. It’s not about numbers. It’s about sentient beings sharing our planet, and how we can coexist for the benefit of all living upon Mother Earth.

Changing the paradigm from killing to compassionate conservation is a major shift in thinking…

“Let me first briefly note what compassionate conservation is not. The easiest way to summarize this topic is to say that compassionate conservation isn’t “welfarism gone wrong.”” Marc Bekoff from: Compassionate Conservation Matures and Comes of Age.

PHOTOGRAPH BY SEAN CRANE, MINDEN PICTURES

More from Compassionate Conservation Matures and Comes of Age by Marc Bekoff Traditional conservation science is ethically challenged and conservation has had a very bloody past and continues to do so. Of course, this does not mean that conservation biologists are cold-blooded killers who don’t care about the well-being of animals, but rather that the problems that are faced throughout the world, most brought on by human intervention in the lives of other animals, are challenging to the point of being daunting. Often, it seems as if the only and easiest solution is to kill the “problem animals” and move on to the next situation, in a never-ending series of conflicts. However, killing simply does not work in the long run. And, of course, as numerous people have pointed out, it is ethically indefensible.

Compassionate conservation also doesn’t allow for people to play what I call the “numbers game.” Claims that go something like, “There are so many members of a given species it’s okay to kill other members of the same species” are not acceptable. With its focus on the value of the life of each and every individual, no single animal is disposable because there are many more like them.

“Killing to save: We really don’t want to kill others animals but…Compassionate conservation also is not concerned with finding and using the “most humane” ways of killing other animals, so killing animals “softly” is not an option, because it’s inarguable that killing individuals in the name of conservation remains incredibly inhumane on a global scale.” Marc Bekoff

What is Compassionate Conservation?

Populations of animals are not homogenous, abstract entities, but comprise unique individuals – in the case of sentient animals, each with its own desires and needs and a capacity to suffer.

Animal welfare as a science and a concern, with its focus on the individual animal, and conservation biology and practice, which has historically focussed on populations and species, have tended to be considered as distinct. However, it is becoming clear that knowledge and techniques from animal welfare science can inform and refine conservation practice, and that consideration of animal welfare in a conservation context can lead to better conservation outcomes, while engendering increased stakeholder support. From Compassionate Conservation website

Changing the paradigm from killing to compassionate conservation is a major shift in thinking. How can we begin to change from killing to compassionate conservation? It begins locally, in local communities, by opening the conversations at public meetings. More to come on this topic…

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Featured image from Flickr.com

Humane Society of the United States exposes predator killing contests in an undercover story.

Killing to conserve a species is not conservation. The following story by Humane Society of the United States exposes the cruelty taking place in predator killing contests.

Undercover video takes viewers into grisly world of wildlife killing contests published on May 3rd 2018.

On a freezing, rainy Sunday night, cold beer flows freely at the weigh-in and judging phase of the Parlin Buck Club’s fourth Annual 24-Hour Predator Killing Contest in Barnegat, New Jersey. An undercover investigator for the Humane Society of the United States films a group of men laughing and posing in front of about 15 dead foxes hanging by their feet from a rack. Several weeks earlier and a few hundred miles away, our investigator filmed participants in the Bark at the Moon Coyote Club’s New York State Predator Hunt in Macedon near Lake Ontario, as they placed the animals they’d killed in rows outside a restaurant. About 200 animals were piled up to be counted, weighed and displayed.

These scenes of casual indifference to the suffering and death of animals are captured in our undercover investigation video of wildlife killing contests in New York state and New Jersey. The investigation was carried out in early 2018.

We’ve discussed these grisly spectacles before, where participants compete to win prizes for gathering the most animal carcasses; sadly, they happen more often than you might imagine. Our investigators’ video gives you a chance to witness for yourself what goes on at these depraved and cruel events.

The most common victims of these killing contests are native carnivores like coyotes, foxes and bobcats, but other species in the crosshairs include crows, wild pigs, squirrels, rattlesnakes, raccoons, rabbits, porcupines, badgers, skunks and even mountain lions and wolves. Countless dependent young may be orphaned during these events, left to die from starvation, predation or exposure.

While some contest organizers say the events provide a service to hunters by removing animal species that also eat deer or turkeys, there is no science to support that claim. On the contrary, it is their victims, the native carnivores they kill, who provide vital ecological services. They do so by controlling populations of other species, benefiting crop and timber growth and supporting biodiversity.

[Related: Wildlife killing contests are animal welfare and conservation disgrace]

We’re making progress in our fight to stop these horrible events. In 2014, California banned contests in which cash or prizes valued at $500 or more are offered. Colorado now limits the number of animals that can be killed by wildlife killing contest participants. In 2017, Maryland placed a moratorium on cownose ray killing contests in the Chesapeake Bay. In New York, Assembly member Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, and Senator Phil Boyle, R-Bay Shore, have introduced legislation that would end this senseless practice. In coming months, more states will put forward proposals that seek to prohibit these killing contests, and we’ll be backing them.

Last fall, we launched our toolkit, “Wildlife Killing Contests: A Guide to Ending the Blood Sport in Your Community,” which has become a valuable resource for wildlife advocates, organizations and even city governments. We have also joined with Project Coyote and 19 other like-minded local, state and national organizations to form the National Coalition to End Wildlife Killing Contests, to increase public education and to encourage policy change at the local and state levels.

To help make a difference, sign our petition calling on your state’s wildlife management agency to put an end to these cruel, pointless and counterproductive wildlife killing contests.

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Check out Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s new film project about wolf advocates, “The Yellowstone Story” Yellowstone’s wolves face trophy hunters ready to kill them as soon as they step across park boundaries. Meet the wolf advocates fighting for the legacy of Yellowstone’s wolves…

Watch our pitch trailer

A film that presents the viewer with a complete picture of what it means to advocate for an imperiled species protected within Yellowstone National Park; contrasted against an uncertain future because of wolf hunting taking place just beyond the park’s borders.

“Inside the Heart of Wolf Advocacy- The Yellowstone Story” tells the stories of people working to preserve the legacy of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. A Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin Film. Produced by Rachel Tilseth and Maaike Middleton and Directed by Rachel Tilseth. In this clip wolf advocates share their stories. Ilona Popper is a writer and advocate for wolves. Dr. Nathan Varley and Linda Thurston Wildlife biologists and business owners of The Wild Side Tours & Treks in Yellowstone National Park. Song credits: “Don’t Know Why, But They Do” Words & Music by Joe De Benedetti & Noah Hill. B roll credits thanks to National Park Service. www.wolvesofdouglascountywisconsin.com for more information. To support the film through a tax free contribution go to https://www.planb.foundation/News/82/inside-the-heart-of-wolf-advocacy

Learn more about our film project by clicking here.

A plea for justice: In the video what you are seeing is a clear act of animal cruelty in progress…

…Yet the hunter in the video is never prosecuted. Warning the following video contains violence against a helpless wild sentient-being.

In the video what you are seeing is a clear act of animal cruelty in progress. Yet the hunter in the video is never prosecuted.

Will there ever be justice for the coyote being tortured by a hunter’s dogs in the video? I’ve been asking that question for several years now. When I found the horrific video in 2014 that a hunter posted to a hound hunting page I immediately downloaded it. I was hoping to seek justice for the coyote. I sent the video over to a group I was working with at the time in 2014, and they told me they would help me investigate the hounder in the video. I asked them if they found anything out about the hounder in the video, and they never got back to me. After over six months or so of no response from this group, I turned the video and the name of the hunter, Francis Metz, over to a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warden in June of 2015.

Screenshot of the first email sent to a WDNR conservation warden in June 2015 almost a year after I sought help from another group I was working with at the time. They never got back to me.

The following screenshot is the response from Warden Kamke.

I received a response From the warden referring the case to another warden.

The warden, Nick Miofsky, did an investigation into the video and the hunter Francis Metz. Then, the warden turned the video and the evidence they collected over to the Florence County District Attorney on animal cruelty charges. Finally, I had hope that there would finally be justice for the coyote. How Ironic that in the end the district attorney of Florence county deemed the video to be to old to prosecute.

I’ve had this video for four years now, and there’s been no justice for this coyote. Yet, so many people want to keep the horrible truth from being seen. Even George Myer thinks the actions seen in this video are wrong and illegal. But he too did nothing about the abuse committed to the Coyote by the hunter.

Next, on March 15, 2016 Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin received a message in the inbox from George Meyer Executive Director at Wisconsin Wildlife Federation inquiring about the video on YouTube. The following is the message from George Meyer:

I viewed the Utube film of the dogs attacking the coyotes. While I support coyote hunting, the actions shown on the video are wrong and illegal. Please provide information on whether it took place in Wisconsin and who was involved. If done in Wisconsin I will personally look into it and seek legal redress.

The following is my response to Mr. Meyer’s message:

Thank you for being appalled by the actions in this video as I was. I found the video on a hound hunting Facebook posted by Francis Metz. I turned this over to a warden and it was investigated. Then turned over to the DA in Florence County for animal cruelty. But the DA did not pursue it. It was disappointing. But I haven’t given up and was getting ready to do a FOIA to get all the details. This is my email Address wolvesdouglasco@gmail.com Email me and I will forward you the emails. I look forward to receiving your email, Best, Rachel Tilseth

The following is Mr. Meyers response:

Will contact you tomorrow.

I never received an email back from George Meyer. In fact I never heard from him again. Disappointing to say the least.

That’s not the end of the story. In fact it’s just the beginning. I had the video on Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s You Tube Channel for a number of years, that is until March 15, 2017. It was taken down by YouTube deeming that it violates community standards. And a strike was assigned against my account.

My question is why was the video deemed, “violates YouTube’s community standards” then removed on March 15, 2017? Apparently all a person has to do to get a video removed is complain by clicking on the Flag Icon appearing on the far right under the video.

How to Remove Videos From YouTube That Someone Else Uploaded (source)

Wave the Flag

Under each video on YouTube is a toolbar with buttons that perform different actions, with a Flag icon appearing on the far right. This is the flagging tool which allows you to report a video to YouTube staff for review. Click the button and provide details as to why the video should be removed. If the video violates YouTube’s Community Guidelines it will be removed; but if there is no violation, the video will not be removed no matter how often it is flagged.

The video was removed and a strike was placed against Wolves of Douglas County Wisconsin’s YouTube channel. Dare I even suggest a campaign by coyote hunters was responsible for removing the video?

Someone, or several “someone’s” wanted this video off my You Tube channel. Perhaps the proof is in the video, that clearly shows the coyote is being tortured by the hunter’s dogs. Why are they trying to cover up this animal cruelty? I want justice for the coyote in the video. The coyote hunter in the video was never prosecuted. Let’s not let the barbarous act committed against the coyote go unchallenged!

Please help me find justice for the the coyote…

The coyote was once a living breathing member of a community, and living in the wild in northern Wisconsin. Please take action copy and paste the link of this blog and send it to your Wisconsin State legislators, the head of the Wisconsin DNR executive team.

Say shame on this hunter who pushed his dogs to attack a coyote in the video! We want justice for the coyote!

Featured image by Ron Niebrugge

And thank you for sharing this blog!

Rachel Tilseth

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ~Mahatma Gandhi

Wolves may generate cascading effects through changes in coyote distribution. 

These changes benefit hares and foxes, while also reducing the deer mouse population in some years. Journal of Mammalogy

Article Source: greatlakesecho.org Foxes join #TeamWolf versus #TeamCoyote

By Karen Hopper Usher 

It’s wolves vs coyotes vs foxes, and the effects of this competition are felt on down the food chain to deer mice, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Mammalogy

Read full article click HERE: It’s what scientists call a “mesopredator release,” Flagel said. The mesopredator (medium-sized predator) is released from the conditions that keep it in check, and the effects are felt on down the food chain.

But now the wolves are coming back and there’s evidence of cascading effects caused by their return.

It shows the reversal of the effects of coyote taking over the eastern United States, Flagel said.

“What we’re seeing here is gray wolf recovery can benefit small carnivores and rabbits and hares by changing or redistributing coyotes, and also deer mice decrease in some years,” Flagel said.

This isn’t the first study that has looked at the impacts of wolves on our ecosystems, said David MacFarland, large carnivore specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “But anything that adds to enhanced understanding is beneficial as we’re making management decisions.”

And it’s not just wolves that are coming back in the upper Midwest, MacFarland said. Bears are also more common than they were.

“Large carnivore communities are doing better than they have in the past hundred years,” he said. Meanwhile, large carnivores in other parts of the world are in “significant peril.”
Scientific reaction to the study has so far been positive, Flagel said. He’s been presenting his findings at wildlife conferences.

Flagel’s team was the first do a study like this at such a fine scale, Flagel said, and that’s important because that’s where the wolf, fox and coyote interactions are happening. 

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Featured image by John E Marriott

Advances made in wolf deterrents

Local rancher claims state-sponsored killing isn’t needed

Source Idaho Mountain Express

    If ranchers around the West don’t make more use of nonlethal deterrents to predation on livestock, they risk losing access to the public lands they need, a conservation-minded sheep rancher said during a presentation on the subject last week in Ketchum.
    At The Community Library on Thursday, Brian Bean, co-owner of Lava Lake Lamb, described the tools and techniques provided to ranchers by the Wood River Wolf Project, which seeks to save the lives of both livestock and wolves. The project was begun nine years ago by the group Defenders of Wildlife, but was handed over last year to the nonprofit Lava Lake Institute for Science and Conservation, of which Bean is a co-founder.

In 2014, the Idaho Legislature created a $400,000 fund to pay for lethal control of wolves preying on livestock, which is carried out upon request by Wildlife Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That fund was reauthorized in 2015 and 2016. In addition, using money provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the state compensates ranchers for at least half the value of livestock lost to wolf depredation.

    Bean said the ease by which ranchers can obtain free lethal control actions reduces their motivation to try nonlethal deterrents first.
    “The system is set up to make it so easy to kill predators,” he said.
    However, he said that system may be contrary to ranchers’ long-term interests as the public becomes less tolerant of predator control.
    “There’s a much greater risk of public lands disenfranchisement than they believe,” he said.
    To motivate ranchers to use those deterrents, the Wood River Wolf Project makes free “band kits” available to the five sheep operators who graze their animals on Sawtooth National Forest allotments, along with free instruction.
    “We make it as easy as possible for the ranchers, so they don’t have any reason to say, ‘No, I don’t want to use these nonlethal tools,’” said project Coordinator Avery Shawler in an interview.
    The 10 band kits available contain numerous items to scare wolves, including about a dozen flashing Foxlights, air horns, a starter pistol with 200 rounds of blank ammunition and small cylindrical boom boxes. The Wolf Project also provides “turbo fladry”—red flags strung along a solar-powered electrified wire to surround the outside of a band of sheep at night, as well as sleeping bags, pads and tents for herders to sleep with the band when it’s at too high an elevation to pull their camp trailer up.
    Bean said the mostly Peruvian herders enjoy being with the sheep and don’t want to see them killed.
    He said use of nonlethal deterrents has contributed to a reduction in wolf depredation on Lava Lake Lamb herds from several per year to one event every two or three years, as well as to fewer sheep being attacked each time.
    “For us, we feel that it won’t be necessary to use lethal control, and for anyone who takes time to learn nonlethal [deterrents],” he said.
    In about 2012, the Wood River Wolf Project was the first entity in the United States to use the Foxlights, a product invented by Australian sheep rancher Ian Whalen. The lights, set up among a band of sheep or other domestic animals, flash at random intervals to mimic humans walking around with spotlights that they are pointing in various directions while guarding their animals.
    Whalen attended the presentation Thursday, which was intended primarily for him to demonstrate his product.
He said that in Australia, the main predator of sheep is red foxes, a non-native animal brought to the continent by the British to provide sport for hound hunting.
“Since then, they have decimated many of our small [native] creatures,” he said.
Whalen said ranchers have traditionally used 1080 poison and night shooting to kill foxes. Still, he said, they often found dead lambs in the morning.
    “Quite clearly, it wasn’t working,” he said.
    Whalen said that while he was lying in bed one night feeling too lazy to go outside and scare off foxes, it occurred to him that maybe he could set up lights that just made it look like he was out there. His first idea was to use the red flashing lights set up to warn drivers at road construction sites. He tried that, and it helped, he said. The he went to an electrical engineer and asked him to design a light that flashed randomly and switched from white to blue to red. He wanted the lights to come on automatically when the sun dims and shut off at dawn. Thus was born the Foxlight.
    Whalen said that due to his invention, he hasn’t killed a fox since 2006.
    The Foxlights come in two versions—a solar-powered light for $129 and a battery-powered one for $89 for use in forested areas with little sunshine.
    Whalen said he’s sold about 30,000 Foxlights in Australia—as few as one light to people who just want to guard one chicken coop to as many as 60 to a rice farmer having problems with large flocks of ducks eating his crop.
    Whalen said experimental use in the United States indicates that the lights are effective against coyotes and mountain lions, but they haven’t been tried with bears. He said the Foxlights don’t work against coyotes or other predators living in urban areas that are accustomed to seeing lots of lights.
    Bean said the Foxlights are one of the top two or three tools that the Wood River Wolf Project uses, though he emphasized that effective deterrence requires the use of numerous approaches.
    “One of the things you have to accept with these intelligent canid predators is that they will become habituated,” he said.
    Whalen said the lights have been used in Nepal to deter predation by snow leopards, and, for a while, in Pakistan.
    “The Pakistani Army confiscated them all on the theory that they might be some kind of landing system for drones,” he said.
    Recently, he has donated lights to wildlife-conservation projects in Africa. He said the lights have proven effective at deterring lions and leopards, though not jackals.
    In Mozambique, he said, the lights are being used as part of a project by conservationists to keep elephants and hippos out of the local villagers’ vegetable gardens and predators out of livestock corrals. In Zimbabwe at Victoria Falls, the lights play a similar role to help maintain the wildlife that draws tourists.
    “That makes me proud,” he said, “that my little baby is doing something for the wider world. Overall, I don’t know how far my lights are going to go.” Source

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A solar-powered Foxlight is intended to fool predators into thinking that humans are up and about at night around a band of sheep.


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Featured image: Wood River Wolf Project 

Wolves should remain protected according to a new study from Princeton-UCLA 

Princeton-UCLA study finds gray wolves should remain protected. Researchers from Princeton University and the University of California-Los Angeles who investigated the genetic ancestry of North America’s wild canines have concluded that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s scientific arguments for removing gray wolves from endangered species protection are incorrect.
The study, which contradicts conventional thinking, finds that all of the continent’s canids diverged from a common ancestor relatively recently and that eastern and red wolves are not evolutionarily distinct species but a hybrid of gray wolf and coyote ancestry. The study will appear in the journal Science Advances.

Gray wolves once ranged across much of the United States but were hunted to near-extinction in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1973, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act, in part, because its geographic range once included the Great Lakes Gray wolves once ranged across much of the United States but were hunted to near-extinction in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1973, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act, in part, because its geographic range once included the Great Lakes region and 29 eastern states. Since then, gray wolves have rebounded due to protections, reintroduction and natural repopulation, making wolf recovery in the West one of the most successful efforts under the ESA. Gray wolves also still live in the Great lakes area but not in the 29 eastern states. The red wolf also was protected under the ESA as a distinct species in 1973, but the eastern wolf, which was only recently recognized as a distinct species, is not protected.

The Fish and Wildlife Service will decide this fall whether to remove the gray wolf from protection, drawing renewed attention to the conflict between conservationists, ranchers, hunters and others who see the iconic predator either as a threat or as part of a healthy ecosystem. The agency says the gray wolf should be delisted because the eastern wolf – not the gray wolf – lived in the Great Lakes region and eastern states. Essentially, the presence of the eastern wolf, rather than the gray wolf, in the eastern United States would cause the gray wolf’s original listing to be annulled. With the exception of the Mexican wolf, the gray wolf would lose protection from its entire North American range under the proposed rule change.
In their new study, lead author Bridgett vonHoldt, an assistant professor in ecology and evolutionary biology at Princeton, and her colleagues analyzed the complete genomes of 12 pure gray wolves (from areas where there are no coyotes), three pure coyotes (from areas where there are no gray wolves), six eastern wolves (which the researchers call Great Lakes wolves) and three red wolves.

Results showed that eastern and red wolves are not evolutionary distinct species but the result of a relatively recent interbreeding: Eastern wolves are about 75 percent gray wolf and 25 percent coyote, while red wolves are about 25 percent gray wolf and 75 percent coyote.
“We found no evidence for an eastern or red wolf that has a separate evolutionary legacy,” vonHoldt says. “These results suggest that arguments for delisting the gray wolf are not valid.”
The researchers also conclude that the ESA should protect hybrid species because interbreeding in the wild, thought to be uncommon when the ESA was passed in 1973, has been shown to be common and may not be harmful.

“Our findings demonstrate how a strict designation of a species under the ESA that does not consider genetic admixture can threaten the protection of endangered species,” vonHoldt says. “We argue for a more balanced approach that focuses on the ecological context of genetic admixture and allows for evolutionary processes to potentially restore historical patterns of genetic variation.”

The study, “Whole-genome sequence analysis shows that two endemic species of North American wolf are admixtures of the coyote and gray wolf,” was published July 27 by Science Advances. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health.

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Featured image John E Marriott Photography

Thinning out coyotes by killing them doesn’t work and only leads to more predation on livestock

No science behind coyote killing contests.

The Wisconsin coyote is considered to be a furbearer and is hunted year-round. The Wisconsin coyote has been classified as vermin that is harmful to people, pets and livestock. This reputation couldn’t be further from the truth. Coyotes are highly intelligent, family oriented, skilled hunters and are benifical for maintaining healthy ecosystems.  
“These adaptable animals will eat almost anything. They hunt rabbits, rodents, fish, frogs, and even deer. They also happily dine on insects, snakes, fruit, grass, and carrion. Because they sometimes kill lambs, calves, or other livestock, as well as pets, many ranchers and farmers regard them as destructive pests.”  Source: National Geographic article about the coyote

Yet, this reputation as a destructive pest is far from reality.  According to Project Coyote, “they are, adaptable to diverse environments, coyotes provide the following ecological benefits: having a positive impact on ground-nesting birds and songbird diversity and abundance.  Coyotes keep rodent and rabbit populations in check.  Coyotes help control disease transmission.” 

As scavengers, coyotes provide an ecological service by helping to keep our communities clean of carrion (dead things).  www.projectcoyote.org


Coyote killing contest exist to conserve the species according to the old school of conservation ethics.  But studies have shown that these killing contest don’t work. In fact they create a whole new set of problems for the coyote and may increase predation on livestock. 

 
Infographic from: Why Killing Coyotes Doesn’t Work  The Humane Society of the United States. 

Coyotes are hunted all year-round in Wisconsin. 

The following excerpt is from the WI DNR Furbearers page: Coyote (Canis latrans): The coyote is a medium-sized member of the canine family. Average coyote weight is between 20-30 lbs., though they can weigh up to 50 lbs. Coyote fur can be a variety of colors including gray, tawny, red, blond and black. Coyotes may be hunted year-round with the appropriate license, though the trapping season is restricted.  Coyotes are considered furbearers. 
The definition of  Furbearers by the WI DNR states; A furbearer is a mammal whose fur has commercial value. Traditionally, these are the mammals trapped for their fur, though not all of Wisconsin’s furbearers may be harvested in the present day.

Coyote killing contests are held in the winter because the fur is at its best value. How much does a hunter get for a fur?  According to eBay a tanned coyote hide can go from $50.00 to $300.00 for a coat.

In the WI DNR website about Coyote is listed as a furbearer and can be hunted year-round. Yet, in this same discription there is no discussion about ecological benefits of coyotes. 

 In researching this article I came across several coyote legends, myths & folklore, that put the coyote as being anthropomorphized into human form. Modern science recognizes that coyotes occupy their own unique space on the planet distinctly separate from humans. 


There is no science behind coyote killing contests. Wisconsin coyotes are killed for their fur and sport.

 

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Featured image: by John E Marriott  

Michigan coyote hunter on trail: charges stem from a YouTube video of hunting dogs attacking and killing a wounded coyote. Jury finds not guilty…

Update: Friday 4/29/16 (there is no justice for this coyote) 
Bessemer – After about two hours of deliberation, a 12-person jury cleared Jason Charles Roberts, 35, of Ironwood, of all charges in Gogebic County Circuit Court Thursday.  Source

Source: DNR’s Emery testifies in second day of coyote trial

By RICHARD JENKINS

 

GOGEBIC COUNTY Prosecutor Nick Jacobs, right, questions DNR Sgt. Grant Emery, second from right, Wednesday during the trial of Jason Charles Roberts. Also in the courtroom were, from left, Gogebic County Clerk Gerry Pelissero and Circuit Court Judge Michael Pope.

 
Bessemer – The second day of Jason Charles Roberts’ trial on animal cruelty charges in Gogebic Circuit Court consisted of testimony by Department of Natural Resources Sgt. Grant Emery Wednesday.
Roberts faces a felony charge of torturing an animal and misdemeanors for cruelty to an animal and failure to kill a wounded animal. The first charge carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison, while the others have maximum sentences of 93 days and 90 days, respectively.
The charges stem from a YouTube video of hunting dogs attacking and killing a wounded coyote.

Bessemer – The second day of Jason Charles Roberts’ trial on animal cruelty charges in Gogebic Circuit Court consisted of testimony by Department of Natural Resources Sgt. Grant Emery Wednesday.
Roberts faces a felony charge of torturing an animal and misdemeanors for cruelty to an animal and failure to kill a wounded animal. The first charge carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison, while the others have maximum sentences of 93 days and 90 days, respectively.
The charges stem from a YouTube video of hunting dogs attacking and killing a wounded coyote.
Gogebic County Prosecutor Nick Jacobs began his direct examination of Emery by establishing Emery’s basic resume, including his 17-year career as a conservation officer and his love of the outdoors.
“Conservation officers – it’s more than a job, it’s a way of life for us,” Emery said.
Emery testified the nature of his job gives him the discretion to determine when to issue citations and when to simply give a warning.
Jacobs followed this line of questioning by establishing the timeline of Emery’s investigation into the YouTube video.
Once Emery established what the prosecution viewed as the basic facts of the case, Jacobs began a series of hypothetical scenarios questioning what laws required of hunters related to the dispatching of game animals.
Emery told jurors hunters are obligated to immediately dispatch wounded game animals and make a reasonable effort to retrieve game.
“Immediate to me means without delay. The hunters code of ethics that we follow – we want clean, quick kills,” Emery said. “Killing an animal is violent, and we all understand that. Killing is violent – but quick and clean, that’s what we want.”
He acknowledged different styles of hunting allowed different standards for what constituted immediately killing the animal, using the example of waiting hours before pursuing a deer shot with a bow as an example.
Emery testified the standards largely depended on what the common practices of the hunting style were, later testifying some delays dispatching game was allowed if it enhanced the ability to retrieve the dead animal. Such as allowing a deer to “lie and die” when shot rather than pursuing it immediately.
Jacobs also asked Emery about testimony he gave during previous court appearances in the case.
Emery testified that while he previously testified dogs were allowed to kill game in Michigan and the owner of a hunting dog wasn’t obligated to dispatch an animal wounded by someone else, a recent review of the game regulations showed him both of those assertions were incorrect.
While dogs were allowed to be used in the tracking and pursuit of game, Emery told the jury his interpretation of the law after reviewing additional sections was that dogs killing game animals was prohibited.
He said while accidental kills were technically a violation, he likely wouldn’t cite hunters in those cases as there wasn’t an intent to have the dogs kill game.
Jacobs also entered several pieces of evidence into the record, including a copy of the video Emery obtained from Google – YouTube’s parent company – and accompanying documentation.
Roberts’ attorney, Roy Polich, objected to the inclusion of the evidence Emery obtained from Google. Polich made several arguments explaining his objection, including his belief that while Emery was able to establish the video sent by Google was indeed the video on YouTube that prompted the case, he couldn’t testify that it was an accurate depiction of the hunt.
Polich said while Emery believed the video was shot in February 2014 and showed illegal activity, there is no way to know the date of the hunt or what actually happened in the woods because Emery’s sole source of information is the video – which didn’t come to his attention until approximately a month after it was uploaded.
He compared the admission of the video to a photograph, arguing Michigan’s rules of evidence usually required the photographer or someone present when the photo was taken who can testify the photo is accurate.
“In this case, the first time this witness looked at (the video), by even the download date, was a month later. So, when was it taken? We don’t know. Where was it taken? We don’t know,” Polich said.
Gogebic County Circuit Court Judge Michael Pope ruled the video could be used as evidence in the case – saying among the date, location and events surrounding the hunt are things the prosecution has to establish during the trial – but ruled other information obtained from Google regarding unrelated material wasn’t going to be entered as evidence.
Jacob’s questioning also included showing the YouTube video, followed by Emery testifying on the video’s content.
Following Jacobs’ direct examination, Polich cross-examined Emery.
Among the areas Polich focused on during his cross was the change in Emery’s understanding of the law between previous hearings and Wednesday and if Wednesday’s interpretation of the law was an objective reading of the relevant text.
“Where does it say dogs are not allowed to kill game,” Polich asked after Emery read what he said was the applicable law.
Emery responded that it wasn’t listed as an allowed activity in the law.
“Why would you tell this jury and this court that (the section of law) says they can’t kill game,” Polich asked.
Emery responded that the prohibition on dogs killing game was his interpretation of the text.
“So not only you didn’t know about it … the last two times you testified, now you have a new interpretation of it.”
Emery disputed the idea it was a new interpretation, arguing he didn’t have a previous interpretation.
Polich also raised the change in understanding of the law regarding the responsibility of the dog owner.
He also pressed on the requirement that game be immediately dispatched, arguing the coyote in the video was alive for a much shorter time than game is allowed to be in other types of hunting.
“You already agree that it took (the dog that killed the coyote) less than a minute,” Polich asked. “So if we presume that there is no law that says a dog can’t kill a coyote – you know we’re just talking about (the immediate kill requirement) – was perhaps (the dog) the best method to quickly kill this coyote?”
Polich asked if given the circumstances of the hunt – which he said occurred in deep snow and where all the ammunition was used – the use of a dog to kill the coyote was more humane than any of the available alternatives. Emery disagreed with the idea that using the dogs was humane, citing possible alternatives including clubbing or stabbing the animal depending on what was available.
Polich’s line of questioning continued in an effort to show jurors that the use of dogs to kill game was as standard in coyote hunting as not immediately pursuing wounded deer while bow hunting.
The trial continues at 9 a.m. today.