Population growth means they're expanding territory and facts need to outweigh feelings of animal rights supporters

It has happened all too often. Animal rights activists, politicians, and many others that generally range in the “do-gooders” category get various laws and regulations passed that “protect” various species of wildlife. 

And now the check for that foolishness is beginning to come due. 

I heard last week that Yellowstone National Park now has too many grizzly bears. They are beginning to wander out of the park. More importantly, they are causing trouble for surrounding ranches and homes. That problem will continue to escalate until something positive is done.

Cougars also make the news with quiet regularity. California stopped cougar hunting, and now L.A. and Sacramento have almost routine reports of these dangerous cats walking their city’s streets. And a hungry cougar will kill just about anything it can, including house cats, small dogs, rats and other available critters if it is hungry enough.

Wolves, in my opinion, are the biggest threat across the West and upper Midwest. They have spread from Wyoming and Montana to Idaho, Washington, California and Oregon. They have devastated the elk herds in parts of Idaho and Wyoming, and are severely impacting elk and deer herds elsewhere. I have a photograph of 35 wolves in a single Idaho pack, and that is a lot of mouths to feed.

However, it is my opinion that coyotes pose the most immediate threat to residents of New York and the area East of the Mississippi River. Last week’s article on coyotes that appeared below mine in this sports section gave a lot of useful and informative information, but one sentence really caught my attention. “... they might be getting increasingly similar to wolves.” 

Yes, around a quarter of the DNA of our eastern coyotes comes from wolves. And it is likely that, as time goes by, the wolf traits will be amplified in their behavior. These critters are already “smart” by anyone’s standards. They routinely go into villages, towns and cities as they search for food, yet they are rarely seen by humans. Canandaigua currently has at least two packs, but how many reports of observation are made to the police or DEC?

While this discussion is not intended to excite or terrify anyone, it is intended to bring reality to the fore. It would be virtually impossible to eliminate them now, simply because they are so well entrenched and so expert at surviving. But it would be possible to seriously reduce their population if we take a realistic course of action.

The most obvious step to take is to eliminate all “protection” on coyotes. Currently in N.Y., they receive almost complete protection for six months of every year. The current “season” runs from Oct. 1 through March 25. But during the April to September months they are essentially protected. That is absolute insanity.

Another sentence from last week’s coyote read, “The growing wolflike characteristics mean humans must learn to better coexist with the adaptable predators.” 

But that is an impossibility, simply because coyotes are already assimilated into urban environments while wolves are not and never will be. It is up to us humans to fully control these mini-wolves now. And the only way we can hope to accomplish that task is by treating them as the threat they are to humans. 

Removing all protective seasons is a good step, but only one of many we need to take.

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There have been two hunting “accidents” that need to be examined by every hunter. Both happened in Chautauqua near the village of Sherman. The first occurred on Nov. 22 at approximately 5:24 pm. A woman was shot and killed by a hunter. Police report that Thomas Jadlowski, 34, identified himself to Deputies as the person who shot the victim. 

Here are the essentials of what happened. Jadlowski believed he saw a deer in a field. He fired a shot from his single shot pistol. He heard a scream, and immediately responded to the area  approximately 200 yards away. 

He discovered the victim, a 43 year old woman who had been walking her dogs, and immediately called 911 for assistance. He then applied pressure to her wound until the first responders arrived. She was transported to a hospital where she died. Oh, and the shot that he fired was around 5:24 pm, well after sunset.

How many stupid errors did Jadlowski make? He violated several of the most basic rules for safe hunting. He “believed” he saw a deer in a field, when he should have made absolutely sure it was a deer. He shot his gun anyway, despite the darkness well after sunset. He did not know what was beyond his target. And he fired the gun well after sunset, a clear violation of law.

Tragedy struck two families with that single bullet. The victim’s family now must deal with the loss of a loved one. Jadlowski and his family must deal with the legal troubles he is now facing, not to mention the memories of the innocent life he snuffed out. 

So folks, just what is a deer worth?

Just two days later, in the same little village of Sherman, a hunter shot a pickup truck that he thought was a deer. It seems that Marvin C. Miller, 25, of Middlefield, Ohio, was hunting when he saw something brown that he thought was a deer. So he fired a shot and bagged a truck.

At 11:22 a.m., Robert Merritt of Springboro called 911 to report that the pickup truck he and a passenger were riding in was hit by a bullet as they traveled on the Snake Forest Road. The bullet penetrated the front fender of the vehicle and disabled the truck. Neither Merritt not his passenger were injured.

Miller was charged with discharging a firearm across a public roadway and reckless endangerment. He was arraigned in Sherman and was released after posting bail.

How many safe hunting rules did Miller violate? And once again, just what is a deer worth? 

I would say more about these two incidents, but this is a family-friendly newspaper.

Len Lisenbee is the Daily Messenger’s Outdoor Writer. Contact him at lisenbee@frontiernet.net.