This opinion piece ran in a newspaper in Maine. Maine residents,
perhaps you could get letters to the editor in support of the humane
position. Also, if you know anyone that lives in Maine, the group
trying to stop the coyote snaring program has a web site at
Source: Press Herald online (in Maine)
Tuesday, December 31, 2002
COLUMN: MARY de La VALETTE
Snaring coyotes to benefit
Copyright © 2002 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
Every state has a government
agency in charge of its wildlife.
In Maine it's called Inland
Fisheries and Wildlife; in
Massachusetts it's the Division
of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Both agencies, as is the case
also in most other states, are staffed with first-
rate biologists who, if
allowed to do their jobs, would do superb work.
Unfortunately this is not usually the case. In
department is under the control of a seven-member
board, all of whom
are hunters. In Maine, a joint standing legislative
committee of 13
lawmakers holds control.
In reality, in both states, very well-organized,
well-funded and vocal
"sportsmen's" groups run the show. This would not
be a problem if these
same "sportsmen" managed our wildlife with the
goals of preserving and
restoring healthy balanced populations of all our
native wildlife. This
would ensure healthy balanced ecosystems in which
they, and we, would
Instead, wildlife management has been reduced to
production of a
commodity - large populations of animals for
hunting, trapping and fishing
- in agency jargon - to produce "recreational
sportsmen. This "management" has been successful.
In Maine, the production of deer for hunters has
taken the disturbing
path of predator control - killing of any animal
that might compete with
sportsmen and spoil their fun. This brings us to
the problem of
"jellyheads." Apparently no method of killing is
inhumane enough to
justify a ban.
Coyotes arrived in the East relatively in recent
decades and although the
evidence is not in that they kill many deer - they
are opportunistic hunters
eating blueberries, beetles, voles and carrion -
they have become the
target of a killing program that exceeds all
boundaries of decency.
This is snaring. Snares are cheap, easy and
successful in killing coyotes
and other nontarget animals. Snares are also
exceedingly cruel and
inhumane. A snare is a wire cable loop usually hung
from a tree branch
that an animal walks into. Snares don't appear to
kill quickly, as snared
coyotes show actual death in many cases is from
clubbing or gunshots.
In one reported study of approximately 100 snared
coyotes, about a
third had huge swollen heads - "jellyheads" in
snarer jargon. Evidently the
snare constricts the jugular vein that takes blood
back to the heart but
allows the carotid artery to keep pumping blood
into the head.
Eventually the blood vessels in the head burst. Is
this what we call
A very small minority needs to kill to eat. What
does that say about the
human species? Surely "dominion" means more than
the right to kill. It
also means stewardship - a responsible and
respectful relationship to the
planet's other life.
It is time to take wildlife management out of the
hands of "sportsmen."
They do not own our wildlife. If wildlife "belongs"
to anyone, it "belongs"
to all citizens - citizens who have many more
varied interests and values
in wildlife than simply killing it for fun.
Statistics clearly show that wildlife tourism and
photography bring many
more dollars into communities than the annual
rituals of killing. It's time
for change, for fresh ideas, for state-of-the-art
expertise and professional
Professional wildlife managers undoubtedly would
still allow hunting and
trapping as a means of population control, but it
would not be the guiding
purpose of wildlife management.
It's time for wildlife biologists to speak out and
salvage the integrity of
their profession. Such cruelty cannot be sanctioned
by a civilized people.
- Special to the Press Herald