On a recent evening in the hills near Livermore, I climbed a rock overlooking a couple square miles of deer habitat. It wasn’t the best spot for spotting deer, but it did overlook a lot of country so I decided to give it a try.
As the evening wore on, I spotted a coyote in the distance. Then it disappeared. A little later I decided to move to a different spot as things were not looking productive. As I rose to leave I realized the coyote was approaching.
It was an awesome creature – sleek and silent. It was mousing and moved very slowly along while sneaking for mice. Although I’ve seen many coyotes up close, it always impresses me to see them undisturbed.
Although coyotes eat lots of rodents, they also prey on blacktail fawns during springtime. They do have an effect upon the deer population. However, it is debatable whether shooting a single coyote has any impact at all upon the deer population. If one could effectively manage the coyote population, then shooting coyotes might be meaningful.
I had all but made up my mind to let the coyote live, when coyote number two appeared over the rise. Now, instead of one coyote, I suddenly envisioned six or seven.
Yes, this was a pair of coyotes and it was clear that we had the makings of a family group. My attitude changed. Not only would I shoot the male, but I’d also attempt to shoot the female as well.
At 75 yards, phase one of the attack plan was over quickly. As the male tumbled down the hill, I turned on the female. Shot number one was behind her. With the sound of the next shot she disappeared, but apparently I’d missed again. Searching the vicinity I found no indication that I’d hit her.
Although I’d given this episode some thought, it wasn’t long before I put the distaste of killing in my rear view mirror and moved on to other more important events – until tonight when I spent a few minutes watching Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN.
The subject was Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. The CNN reporters were examining her environmental record. Her supporters said she was pro-environment and listed her hunting experience as one piece of evidence.
An issue supported by Palin is aerial gunning of wolves and the subject was presented in a very negative way. They showed film of people shooting wolves from airplanes (called it hunting) included a photo of a dead wolf hanging from the strut of an airplane – very distasteful. This is kin to showing the remains of a fetus while discussing the issue of abortion rights. (This type of broadcasting treatment is sensationalizing in a way that disables the viewer’s ability to use reason over emotion and evaluate fairly.)
Wolves eat moose and caribou, along with mice. If you favor having more moose and caribou, then fewer wolves is a key – it’s a no brainer. And, managing wolves doesn’t mean you’re anti-wolf. It just means you’re pro-human hunter.
In any event, I’m pleased that we have a candidate at the national level who understands wildlife management. I feel energized by this. I’ve been wondering when this person would show up and I never expected him to be a her.
I’ve been to the North Slope and seen the miles of tundra that make up the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Properly managed drilling there will have very little negative impact upon wildlife – I’m sure of that. To say the porcupine caribou herd will be threatened by drilling sounds credible, but is inaccurate. We know these animals can coexist with and even expand their numbers in the presence of drilling operations.
Once again I’m glad we have somebody in the national spotlight with the credibility to discuss this important issue and hopefully the most important hunter in Washington since Teddy Roosevelt.