Killing Coyotes

This is (oxy)moronic. Utah has a bounty program that pays hunters to kill coyotes, to keep coyotes from killing the mule deer, to enable more hunters to kill more mule deer. Seems like the only animal that wins out is the hunter.

The science is dubious:

Officially, the aim of the program is to protect the mule deer, a symbol of Utah. Larger than white-tailed deer, with distinctive oversize ears and impressive antlers, the mule deer is a favorite of hunters and hikers here. Coyotes prey on the fawns, so the Mule Deer Protection Act allots $500,000 for bounties. Gov. Gary R. Herbert, a Republican, signed the bill last March at a shop that manufactures hunting bows, as a way to emphasize the $2.3 billion that hunting and wildlife appreciation bring to the state economy.

But environmentalists argue that there is little scientific evidence that curbing the number of coyotes actually helps mule deer rebound. (A six-year study published in 2011 found that coyote removal did not effectively increase the mule deer population in neighboring southeastern Idaho.)

The results are grotesque (according to the accompanying video hunters lure the coyotes in with “lip squeaking,” which is sort of like an air kiss):

So this winter, when Mr. Glauser, 18, spotted a coyote on a patch of ice, he ably called it to him, and shot it. Then he made his way with the carcass to a Division of Wildlife Resources office here, where a government pickup truck served as a repository for parts. Ears, jaws, scalps and nose-to-tail pelts were deposited in an iced-over flatbed as hunters pulled up with garbage bags carrying the animals’ remains. In orderly fashion, their hauls were documented.

One veteran trapper came with a cargo of a dozen skins. Others, like Mr. Glauser, proudly carried one capture. They lined up to qualify for their bounty: $50 per coyote.

The expectations are half-assed:

“I want to have these predators on the landscape,” said John Shivik, the mammal program coordinator for the state’s Division of Wildlife Resources. “We’re not trying to kill them all off, but we’ve got to figure out ways to manage the damage they do, to keep them tolerated.

“Is it going to work? We don’t know,” he added. “But what we’re doing is, we’re giving it the best shot. Nobody’s tried anything this big before.”

You don’t know? Yep, that’s a solid program, and good reason to lock and load.

“Managing wildlife,” especially when it is motivated by human preferences, desires, and fears, always seems an objectionable, and often ill-fated,  proposition (even more so when the motivation is hunting tourism profits). Nature usually does quote well managing its own affairs. The only thing we should try and manage is our own impact on nature. Maybe there is a good bounty program that could be created for that. Kidding. Sort of.

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