Hunting News

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Changes in Attitudes About Predator Management in Washington

George K. Tsukamoto, Staff Biologist
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Predator management is a controversial and sometimes contentious issue in today’s society. This is far different from the attitudes and actions of people in Washington at the dawn of the twentieth century. Back then it was a good thing to protect the desirable game species and domestic livestock from predators.

he prevailing values of the time are reflected in the first wildlife-associated bill passed by the Washington Territorial Legislature in 1871. This bill established a bounty for killing undesirable wild animals. A bounty of $2.50 was established for each cougar, panther, wolf and .50¢ for each coyote and wildcat. In 1879 the bill was amended to raise the bounty to $5 for cougar, panther, wolf, $4 for black bear, $2 for wildcat and 10¢ for muskrat.

During the last century many changes in predator management have occurred and yet the issue remains controversial. Through it all one thing is clear; people have strong feelings about wildlife whether they are hunters or not and whether they live in a rural or urban seting. The proponents of predator control feel they have a right to protect their property and the safety of their family and pets. Some hunters take the view that for every animal killed by a predator there is one less animal for the hunter's bag. The opponents of predator control feel equally strong that predators, particularly large carnivores, are a necessary component of a healthy and natural ecosystem. Our recent public opinion survey indicates predator management remains controversial but we are making progress.

In 1949 the bounty on the coyote was removed and special trappers were hired to reduce coyotes, at approximately the same cost. In 1950 Compound 1080 (sodium fluoroacetate) was introduced experimentally in Okanogan County and subsequently used extensively to control coyote and other mammalian predators. In 1972, an Executive Order prohibited the use of Compound 1080 on federal lands.

Read On

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Deer Rifles & Cartridges

According to the book description of Deer Rifles & Cartridges, “Take an in-depth look at what rifles are best for the type of deer hunting you do. This is a must-have book for any dedicated deer hunter. Renowned author Dr. Wayne van Zwoll covers all aspects of deer rifles and their loads and bullets. From the proper action and caliber to hunting bucks in big woods or open terrain, Dr. van Zwoll covers it all. Handy reference charts include detailed information on the different lightweight, long-range, and lever rifles and the recommended loads for each. Excellent advice and information on deer scopes and sights. Dr. van Zwoll also shares expert advice on marksmanship for 'tumbling deer like grouse.' Grandfather of Deer Guns-Prodigies of Rifle Design-Big Names in Bolt Guns-Lightweight Deer Rifles-Rifles with Extra Reach-Deer Guns for Deep Woods-Rifles to Remember- Deer Loads to Love-Bullets for Big Bucks- Sights and Scopes-Shooting Deer Rifles.”

American Hunting Rifles: Their Application in the Field for Practical Shooting

According to the book description of American Hunting Rifles: Their Application in the Field for Practical Shooting, “A companion volume to Boddington's highly acclaimed Safari Rifles, this comprehensive book covers all the hunting rifles and calibers that are needed for North America's diverse game. From the great bears of the Arctic to the diminutive javelina of the Southwest deserts, America's game calls for a large variety of calibers, and Boddington covers them all, in the thorough, clear, and concise manner that we have come to expect of him. This incredible work will be a guide to all North American hunters, whether you shoot whitetails on the East Coast or elk in the Rocky Mountains. It covers literally all North American big game and all imaginable rifles, calibers, and shooting gear. Like his Safari Rifles, this book will be one of the most worn-out and dog-eared volumes in your sporting library! Also contains a detailed 24-page index and outfitter recommendations on rifles and calibers.”

Virulent Fish Virus Identified for First Time in Lake Superior:

Viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus poses threats to fisheries and aquaculture

January 28, 2010 - For the first time, the presence of an exceptionally virulent fish virus (viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus or VHSV) has been identified in fish from Lake Superior by researchers at the Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and confirmed by scientists at the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center in Seattle.

The disease (VHS) caused by the virus can result in significant losses in populations of wild fish as well as in stocks of fish reared by aquaculture. It is of sufficient global concern to be one of only nine fish diseases that must be reported to the World Organization for Animal Health.

The virus was first identified in the Great Lakes in 2005 when it was recovered from fish experiencing massive die-offs. Over the last 5 years, one die-off in Lake Ontario resulted in the death of 40,000 freshwater drum in 4 days. The virus had been found in fish from all of the Great Lakes except Superior, as well as in the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers, and inland lakes in New York, Michigan and Wisconsin. The disease causes internal bleeding in fish, and although in the family of viruses that includes rabies, is not harmful to humans.

Cornell investigators tested 874 fish collected last summer from seven sites in Lake Superior. Using a new genetic test developed at Cornell, fish from four of seven sites tested positive for the virus: Paradise, Mich., Skanee, Mich., St. Louis, Bay, Wisc., and Superior Bay, Wisc. The VHSV-positive species included yellow perch, white sucker, rock bass and bluegill. To confirm these findings, tissues from fish at one of the sites (Paradise) were sent to the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center where VHSV experts Drs. Gael Kurath and James Winton provided independent confirmation of the Cornell findings.

“VHS is one of the most important diseases of finfish,” said Winton. “It not only affects the health and well-being of populations of several important native fish species, but it can also impact trade, and, should it spread into the U.S. aquaculture industry, could do substantial damage as happened in Europe and parts of Japan.”

Previous genetic research at the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center and by colleagues from Canada showed that this strain of the virus was probably introduced into the Great Lakes in the last 5 to 10 years, and that the fish die-offs occurring among different species and in different lakes should be considered as one large ongoing epidemic. Experts fear the disease could potentially spread from the

Great Lakes into new populations of native fish in the 31 states of the Mississippi River basin.

Federal and State agencies had previously placed restrictions on movement of fish or fish products to slow the spread of the virus; however, the presence of a reportable pathogen in the Great Lakes States, large mortalities among wild species, potential impacts on commercial aquaculture and disruption of interstate and international trade have caused substantial concern among management agencies.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Shooting Drills Help Marines Sharpen Skills

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 27, 2010 - With large packs and complete sets of personal protective equipment, Marines from Headquarters and Service Company of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, arrived at the makeshift rifle range here Jan. 23 under rain-threatening clouds. "There's going to be a lot of pivoting and shooting, facing away from the target and turning around very quickly; usually engaging the target with two shots at a time," said Marine Corps Cpl. Sandro Ola, a field radio operator. "It's very quick and to the point."

The drills also consisted of firing while moving toward the target, reloading rifles quickly and correcting weapon malfunctions while under pressure.

Ola, from Anchorage, Alaska, said he thinks the firing drills will benefit the Marines who will be working with Afghan soldiers to conduct counterinsurgency operations in southern Helmand province.

"It's very crucial that we have this training," he said, "[so that] when we have the opportunity to take that shot, we know when to take it and when not to take it."

The drills consisted of two separate shooting sessions, one during the day and the other at night. During the night-fire portion, Marines used night-vision goggles and laser-aiming devices to help them see their targets.

"The more training they have with their gear and [optics] and everything, the more comfortable they are when it comes to the real thing," said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. William Hart, who's in charge of the range.

The Marines agreed that repetitive training is a key element for combat readiness.

"The whole point ... [is] to get you used to moving around and shooting with your rifle," said Marine Corps Pfc. Joseph Attaway, an administrative clerk from Statesboro, Ga. "Whenever the time comes when you have to shoot, you just do it out of habit."

(Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde serves in the 1st Marine Division's Regimental Combat Team 7 public affairs office.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tennessee Hunting Guide 2010

Several important changes were made to the hunting and trapping regulations for the 2009–2010 seasons. Several of the primary changes are:

• Fall deer and turkey quota permits will be distributed through a first-come, first served at license agents rather than the traditional draw system.

• Deer and fall turkey seasons were simplified:

–– All traditional season openers remain unchanged but muzzleloader

is now one continuous 14-day season in November

–– Fall turkey is one continuous 12-day season in December

• The raccoon units were consolidated so there is now consistent season and bags limits across the state.

• Two new WMAs were added: Skinner Mountain WMA in Fentress County and Luper Mountain WMA in Cumberland County.

• Elk hunting will resume in Tennessee again for the first time in over 150 years as a quota hunt on North Cumberland WMA will take place in October.

• Unit B deer seasons follow the same season dates as Units A and L.

• Annual buck limit is now three statewide which eliminates the two buck restriction in Unit B.

• Added Gibson county to fall turkey season and expanded fall turkey opportunities in Carroll, Clay, Henry, Madison , and Weakley counties.

• Increased deer hunting opportunities in Chester, Haywood, and Henderson Counties by moving these counties to Unit L.

• Increase gun antlerless deer opportunities in Crockett, Dyer, Hamilton, Hardin, Lake, Lauderdale, Marion, and Tipton counties.

• Hunters not able to find an open check station can now check-in their big game harvest through the internet at

• Regulations may vary for handgun carry permit holders.

More Information

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Summary of Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations

Effective: March 1, 2010

New Information in 2010
■ Nonresident landowner spring turkey hunting permits are no longer available. Nonresident landowners age 16 and older must now purchase the Nonresident Spring Turkey Hunting Permit at the regular price. Resident and nonresident youth age 6 to 15 may purchase spring turkey hunting permits at half the price of resident permits.
■ The Cable Restraint Permit is no longer required; however, trappers must successfully complete an approved training course. Also, cable restraints now may be used from Dec. 15, 2010, through Feb. 28, 2011.
■ Thermal imagery equipment cannot be used while hunting.
■ The daily limit for squirrels has been raised from 6 to 10, and the possession limit is now 20.
■ Otter and muskrat trapping zones have been eliminated. The statewide season is Nov. 15 through Feb. 20 throughout the state, with no daily or possession limit.
■ Registering and tagging trapped otters must be done by April 10.
■ To keep chronic wasting disease out of Missouri, new guidelines have been set for hunters bringing deer, elk and moose carcasses into the state. See page 15.

More Information

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Coyotes and Cockpits - After losing his leg to a hunting accident

Maj. Alan Brown grew up the way many boys in the West do -- with hard work and a love for the outdoors. In 1994, he became a C-130 Hercules pilot with the Wyoming Air National Guard and was living the dream of many, flying whenever he could and spending the rest of his time hunting, fishing and helping out on his father's farm.

But that dream came to a screeching halt one cold night in southern Wyoming.

Early in the day on Jan. 21, 1999, Brown had flown a training mission with the 153rd Airlift Wing where he was an aircraft commander. He then brought his good friend and flying partner, Steve Friedman, home for dinner. After finishing their meal, the two set out to hunt coyotes just across the border in northern Colorado.

They were driving along a desolate road when they spotted a coyote. The major reached for his gun as Friedman quickly pulled the pickup over to the side of the road.

"When I went to pull (the gun) out, I was totally focusing on the coyote," Brown said.

He worked quickly to pull the gun from its case and get the shot, but the weapon got hung up. Maintaining his focus on the coyote, he jiggled the gun to shake it loose.

The gun fired into his right leg.

With the loud bang followed by the stinging burn of hot lead, Brown knew he was in trouble.

"I can't remember how (the gun) got off safety, but it shot right through the lower femur above the knee" the major said. "We found out later that much of my femur was gone."

In the "middle of nowhere" and potentially bleeding to death, Brown says his friend's quick and decisive actions saved his life.

"Make no mistake, the only reason I'm here today is because of Steve," Brown said. "We go way back; he's just an exceptional guy."

Friedman gave his wounded buddy a piece of cloth to use as a tourniquet. Brown tied it around his leg just above the wound and cranked down to help stop the bleeding.

Friedman, meanwhile, put the pedal to the metal and pointed the truck in the direction of Greeley, Colo., the nearest town with a hospital.

Their cell phones didn't work in the remote area.

Then, a little luck. As Friedman drove as fast as he could toward Greeley, he spotted several buses at an intersection.

"(Steve) pulled in front of the buses and stopped to ask for help," Brown said. "One of the guys happened to be an EMT (emergency medical technician)."

Snow had started falling hard enough to prevent a helicopter from flying to the rescue. Thankfully, the EMT had a working cell phone and made arrangements with an ambulance to meet the men halfway.

"(We met the ambulance), and they took over," Brown said. "With only a few exceptions, that's about all I remember until five weeks later when I woke up in the hospital."

Brown had been placed in a drug-induced coma, and the first three weeks following the mishap were dedicated to saving his leg. After numerous vein grafts, surgeries and a transfer to Denver to see one of the best trauma surgeons in the country, the major was still going downhill fast. He was on a ventilator and a dialysis machine.

Doctors made a tough decision.

"They told my parents and girlfriend at the time, Gina (who later became his wife), 'We have to remove the leg or he's going to die,' " he said.

After the amputation, the major's condition immediately improved. In a short time he was discharged from the intensive care unit to a rehabilitation floor.

He spent two months in the hospital. He spent five weeks of that time in a coma. When he regained consciousness, his leg was gone.

"People ask if I was freaked out (when I woke up)," he said. "No, I knew I was in the hospital. I knew I had a pretty bad accident. So when I saw my leg wasn't there, it made sense."

As he regained consciousness and awareness, he asked his mom, dad and best friend two questions.

"I asked, 'Is Phinney around?' -- Phinney is my wife's nickname -- and they said, 'Yes she'll be here in about 20 minutes.' I was relieved," he said. "The second thing I asked is, 'Can I fly again?' All of them said yes."

While Brown was in a coma, his family, friends and squadron co-workers laid the groundwork for the major to fly again. They had a list of names of pilots who were flying with an above-the-knee prosthesis.

About three weeks after his release from the hospital, the major received his first prosthesis. He taught himself to walk again and began going to the gym.

"For the next several months I was just trying to get back, trying to get my strength back more or less and just resuming everything that I could," he said.

Gradually, one sit-up at a time, he began regaining his strength. His life began falling into place.

About six months after the accident, Brown met Raymond Francis, a prosthetics expert from Ohio with a soft spot in his heart for military people.

"He's been excellent at getting me and many other military guys back on our feet -- literally," the Air National Guardsman said. "I got hooked up with him and this higher-tech, more high-activity leg. Shortly after that I made two trips to the (flight) simulator."

Still trying to walk well at the time, Brown was eager to see if he could fly again.

"I had to work at it, but I never crashed," he said about his first flight in the simulator.

In June 2000, about 15 months after the accident, the Federal Aviation Administration gave the major a check ride and reinstated his medical clearance. One week later, he received an interview with a civilian airline company.

"That was totally coincidental," he said. "I had my application in with them for a couple years. They had no idea I had even lost my leg."

Nevertheless, he ended up getting the job.

He flew with the airline for three-and-a-half years before being furloughed in March 2003. Afterward, he spent more time trying to regain his flying status with the Guard.

In November 2004, Gen. John Handy, then commander of Air Mobility Command, visited the major's wing, but Brown wasn't there that day. During his visit, the general talked about all the great things the Air Force was accomplishing, including allowing the first above-the-knee amputee to fly again at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

When the general opened the floor to questions, one of Brown's friends told the general about him and asked why he couldn't fly.

The general looked at him and said, "Let's talk about this after this briefing." Then, the general met with Brown's friend and the wing commander to discuss the major's situation.

"He told my wing commander he wanted me to resubmit my package to fly again and that he wanted to be kept posted the entire time about what was going on," he said. "That was in November of 2004. I found out at the beginning of October 2005 that they were going to give me a waiver to fly again."

In August 2006, Brown attended pilot re-qualification training at Little Rock AFB, Ark., -- seven years and five months after he lost his leg. Today, he's again a C-130 pilot in the Wyoming Air National Guard.

"We accomplished more in that half hour with (General Handy) than I had been able to the whole time before," he said with a look of relief. "All I was trying to do was resume my life the way (it had been)."

While Brown says he has never considered himself fortunate to be an amputee, he claims modern medicine and science have helped eased the burden.

"We're lucky to be amputees (at a time) when there's so much technology to make our lives good, make our lives more normal," he said. "I've also had backing at my unit. Our wing commander has never done anything but offer support, and that's been awesome."

Brown hopes others can learn two important lessons from the mishap that interrupted his life.

"First of all, (if you have a limb amputated), your life is not over," the major said. "Second, as far as the accident goes, just count to three before you act. There's nothing that important that you have to act hastily and have an accident like this."

He added that if people learn from his mistake, then his leg won't have been lost in vain.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Ultimate Guide to Small Game and Varmint Hunting: How to Hunt Squirrels, Rabbits, Hares, Woodchucks, Coyotes, Foxes and More

According to the book description of The Ultimate Guide to Small Game and Varmint Hunting: How to Hunt Squirrels, Rabbits, Hares, Woodchucks, Coyotes, Foxes and More, “This book includes detailed natural histories of every important small game species, such as squirrels, rabbits and hares, woodchucks, prairie dogs, coyotes, foxes, bobcats and more. Hunting tactics for all species are covered, including how to locate squirrels by their feeding sites, stalking rabbits with the stop-and-go method, walking abandoned railroad tracks and floating rivers for woodchucks, and calling coyotes with everything from electronic calls to hand-held mouse squeakers. The Ultimate Guide to Small Game and Varmint Hunting is a compendium that no serious hunter should be without. With field-tested advice on which guns, ammunition and optics to use for different species and conditions, as well as tips on calls and other equipment, and a special section on cleaning and cooking small game animals, The Ultimate Guide is ideal for beginner or expert, carrying practical advice that you can use to take more game, whether you hunt in Alaska or Texas, New York or Florida. Special chapters on hunting ethics and firearms safety round out this important and useful how-to book. H. Lea Lawrence has been taking photographs and writing about the outdoors for more than 30 years. With credits in most major outdoor magazines, he has written half a dozen books, including The Ultimate Guide to Bowhunting and A Hemingway Odyssey: Special Places in His Life.”

One reader of The Ultimate Guide to Small Game and Varmint Hunting: How to Hunt Squirrels, Rabbits, Hares, Woodchucks, Coyotes, Foxes and More said, “This book is very informative. If you are just starting out, or considering trying you luck with a critter that maybe you have less experience with, then you will find this book very helpful. Chapter 12 is on firearms safety, 13 is on hunting ethics, and 14 (the last chapter) covers processing game and includes some interesting game recipes. I think there is a little something in this book for everyone that enjoys hunting and someone just beginning to take up hunting is sure to benefit the most. My teenage daughters recently expressed an interest in hunting (much to my surprise) and I bought this book hoping to find material that would cover a wide range on hunting topics. I hunt, but until this year never considered that my girls would have an interest in hunting and I neglected the opportunity of starting their hunting education earlier. I think this book is just what I was looking for and will be a great way to get them started, along with the basic hunters certification course and actual time in the field with dad. I highly recommend!”

Bobcat: Master of Survival

According to the book description of Bobcat: Master of Survival, it “tells the story of the most adaptable and resilient wild feline in the world. While half the wild cat species worldwide are in danger, the bobcat is thriving, even expanding its range in North America. Why are bobcats flourishing when so many other wild felines are advancing towards extinction? The book explains how scientists apply the latest in wildlife research technology to probe this diminutive predator's habits and behavior. The reader is invited inside the bobcat's world to see how they hunt, kill prey, raise their young, coexist with humans, and deftly navigate the endless obstacles to survival.

The bobcat is both the most studied and the most exploited wild feline in the world. Millions have been killed for the fur trade. They were the focus of major controversy in the 1970s that transformed international conservation of wild felines. The book discusses how economics and politics play a far greater role in bobcat management and conservation than does science. Bobcat is the most comprehensive and up-to-date book on the natural history and management of bobcats to appear in 40 years.”

One reader of Bobcat: Master of Survival said, “From the vivid introduction through to the 34-page bibliography, this is a well-constructed story about our crepuscular neighbors the bobcat and Canada lynx. Hansen brings years of field experience, moral sense, and an academic knowledge of bobcats. He outlines research needs and awakens a sense of the increasing dangers to these creatures. Based on observations by others, tracks in the snow, and scat in the trail, I've been aware that wildcats were nearby. This book, with fine photographs, makes them substantial.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Introduction to Missouri's Furbearers

Furbearers are widespread in Missouri. They are known as a group of mammals with some common characteristics. Much like other aggregations of creatures, such as waterfowl, upland game, or cavity nesters, the furbearers of Missouri are a diverse group of animals.

In one sense, all mammals are furbearers, since hair is a uniquely mammalian characteristic. Like specialized teeth, mammary and other skin glands, warm bloodedness (endothermy), and a four- chambered heart) hair is a feature of mammals that separates them (and us) from other vertebrates.

The mammal's coat of hair, or pelage, serves primarily as insulation to keep in body warmth or to retard absorption of heat from the sun. Specialized hairs and coat patterns sometimes aid in concealment, buoyancy, tactile perception (like whiskers), protection or communication.

Pelts (furred skins) have traditionally been valued for human garments and accessories, and mammals hunted or trapped primarily for their pelts are those which are usually called "furbearers." This is somewhat of a utilitarian definition, and while convenient, focuses on only a single aspect of this diverse array of mammals.

Read On

Predator Hunting: A Complete Guide to Hunting Coyotes, Foxes, Bobcats, Bears, and More

According to the description of Predator Hunting: A Complete Guide to Hunting Coyotes, Foxes, Bobcats, Bears, and More, “Bill Bynum, one of America's foremost experts, has been hunting everything from raccoons to bears for more than thirty years. Now he's put that wisdom in one book.”

In PREDATOR HUNTING, Bynum details not only the standard methods of luring predators with game calls, but many other advanced techniques developed through hunting coyotes, bobcats, and foxes all across the country. PREDATOR HUNTING includes chapters on choosing gear without spending a fortune; tactics and techniques; caring for your trophy once it's down; plus specialized techniques for hunting the largest predators on the North American continent. Other chapters cover physical conditioning and having the right mental attitude for achieving success; information on the biological aspects of the animals, which in turn increases understanding of the animal and its habits; tracking predators and what to look for; and learning to unravel many of the predators' secrets by careful observation.

To successfully hunt smart predators such as coyotes and foxes, especially in areas that receive hunting pressure, the serious hunter needs a serious, experienced guide, provided in PREDATOR HUNTING.

One reader of Predator Hunting: A Complete Guide to Hunting Coyotes, Foxes, Bobcats, Bears, and More said, “This book really focuses on coyotes. That's fine because coyotes can be perforated all year around. Other predators are also covered, but a few pages of this book and you're loading the truck for coyote.

There are definitely a lot of hunting stories. But they are good and instructive stories. "We did this and that happened" or "I saw one do this". Trying to figure out what happened seems to be how most hunts end. Even the successful ones. We tell lots of stories and answer a lot of questions. The author answers the questions he thinks we would have asked. It's either that or make all the mistakes and figure everything out ourselves.

There are the usual bits about gear, but you figure out pretty quick that all you really need is a gun, camo, call, and time in the field.”

Eastern Coyote Challenge

According to the book description of Eastern Coyote Challenge, “The comprehensive guide to mastering the art of calling Eastern Coyotes. This book contains information for hunters of all experience levels. Topics include coyote Biology/Ecology, Selecting Proper Gear, Obtaining Permission, Factors for Success, Achieving Perfect Practice: Day & NIght, Three Season Calling Strategies, Night Hunting Specifics, Advanced Calling Tactics, Hunters Resources & more. Special segments take the reader "To the Next Level" by providing cutting edge information, tips and strategies. Detailed diagrams illustrate how to make perfect set-ups. Whether you are an absolute beginner or a seasoned expert, you will benefit from reading this book.”

Ready For Anything: A guide to predator hunting

According to the book description of Ready For Anything: A guide to predator hunting, “How do you pick out a good calling stand? Which camouflage should you wear? Which rifle should you use? Can you lip squeak? And most importantly - where are the animals?! Predator calling has grown immensely in popularity over the past few years, and there are many sportsmen who enjoy this exciting and challenging style of hunting. However there are many who just can't seem to get animals to come in on a regular basis - they lack the fundamental knowledge and experience. Well not anymore! Inside "Ready For Anything" you will find the answers to your questions, as well as instructions for selecting stands, gear, calls, and even participating in competitions! Mixed in are personal stories of accomplished hunters and lots of exciting photos. Stop hoping that predators show up to your call and start expecting them to!”

One reader of Ready For Anything: A guide to predator hunting said, “Excellent read! I really enjoyed the short 'stories' that segued into the 'lessons'. Honestly, damn near everything you said not to do, has been something I have been doing. Camo, for instance. I didn't really think that a face mask or gloves was that big of a deal. I just threw on a camo hat, camo short sleeve shirt, and camo pants. I didn't realize how much skin that left showing, and how MUCH it showed, until seeing your pictorial demonstration.

I think I got a lot of great information out of it, and I really hope it makes my next hunt productive.

I'd recommend this book to anyone looking to get into Predator Hunting!”

Predator Calling With Gerry Blair

According to the book description of Predator Calling With Gerry Blair, “Read the book today, and kill coyotes tomorrow. The promise may seem a bit far-fetched, but using Gerry Blair's proven techniques, the reality of successful predator hunting is closer than it appears. As one of the fastest growing and most popular segments of the hunting industry, people from all walks of life are looking to rid their property of predators, and are looking for details about new rifle calibers, shotgun ammunition, new digital electronic callers, camouflage patterns, blinds and other advances to help get the job done. Predator Calling With Gerry Blair, 2nd Ed. delivers the latest news, from the best in the business.”

One reader of Predator Calling With Gerry Blair said, “Mr. Blair has put together a nice book here, covering most species of furbearers that are commonly 'screamed' to. He covers about all aspects of it, although in some topics it is a bit light (fortunately those are topics that nobody can agree on anyway, so who needs another opinion, right?) By this, I refer to topics such as gun selection and the like.

I've been hunting and knocking around in the woods my entire life, and I did learn some things; particularly useful are the chapters on each species detailing their behavior, habits, and strategies to call them successfully.

He does seem to have more experience hunting the west, which is quite a lot different than hunting the Midwest or the south, but his tactics and ideas are still useful. Well worth the purchase price; even if you only call them into a camera, this is a useful book, as he touches on that as well. His style of writing is never dry and frequently humorous; the kind of guy that you would probably enjoy hunting with.

Predator Hunting: Proven Strategies that Work from East to West

According to the description of Predator Hunting: Proven Strategies that Work from East to West, it is “A unique book that reveals the inside tips for hunting and calling all of America's wildest predators. Millions of North American sportsmen across the country are taking up the challenge and excitement of hunting predators with a variety of hunting, stalking, decoying, and calling tactics. Anytime of the hunting season is a perfect time to try and pursue the most cunning of game: coyote, red fox, gray fox, bobcat, mountain lion, and black bear. Includes over 107 black-and-white and 12 color photographs.”

One reader of Predator Hunting: Proven Strategies that Work from East to West said, “bought 3 different books about predator hunting and this ended up being one of my favorites. A lot of good information is presented in an interesting manner. Excellent discussions about weapons choice and optics where he really gets into depth and then leaves the decision up to you. As an example during the scope section he addresses parrellax and eye relief realistically and shows you ways to check the optics. It also goes into the same detail about calling, set ups, etc. A couple funny stories injected into it also made it a pleasant and interesting read.”

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hunting Regulations: General Overview

Since the late 19th century, hunters concerned about the future of wildlife and the outdoor tradition have made countless contributions to the conservation of the nation's wildlife resources. Today, millions of Americans deepen their appreciation and understanding of the land and its wildlife through hunting. Hunting organizations contribute millions of dollars and countless hours of labor to various conservation causes each year.

The Service recognizes that in many cases, hunting is an important tool for wildlife management. Hunting gives resource managers a valuable tool to control populations of some species that might otherwise exceed the carrying capacity of their habitat and threaten the well-being of other wildlife species, and in some instances, that of human health and safety.

Under Federal law established by international treaties with Canada, Mexico and other countries with whom we share migratory birds, the Service has ultimate responsibility for regulating migratory bird hunting nationwide. Through a regulatory process that begins each year in January and includes public consultation, the Service establishes the frameworks that govern all migratory bird hunting in the United States. Within the boundaries established by those frameworks, state wildlife agencies have the flexibility to determine season length, bag limits, and areas for migratory game bird hunting.

Each state has primary responsibility and authority over the hunting of wildlife that resides within state boundaries. State wildlife agencies that sell hunting licences are the best source of information regarding hunting seasons, areas open/closed to hunting, etc. (Hunting of migratory birds such as ducks and geese is managed cooperatively by state fish and wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Migratory waterfowl hunters must possess both a state hunting license and a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp), and each hunter needs a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number for each state in which they hunt migratory birds.

Coyote Hunting in Arizona

Coyotes are Arizona’s most common predator and found throughout the entire state. Though not always seen, their vocalizations consisting of howls, yelps, and barks are regularly heard during almost any night spent in the field. The animal's pointed ears, narrow nose, reddish brown to blond coat, and black or white tipped tail, help differentiate coyotes from dogs and wolves. The head and body length of coyotes is about 2 ½ to 3 feet with the tail adding another foot or so. Adult males are larger than females, the two sexes averaging about 21 and 17 ½ pounds, respectively. A very large male may attain a weight of 35 pounds. Contrary to popular belief, coyotes do not readily interbreed with either dogs or wolves.

Natural History

Coyotes are opportunists, feeding mainly on small mammals, but also on carrion, bird eggs, and vegetable matter such as acorns, mesquite and palo verde beans, and juniper and manzanita berries. They also prey on pronghorn and deer fawns, and insects when such items are available. In urban areas, garbage, domestic cats, and small dogs are sometimes taken. Coyotes form strong pair bonds, usually breeding between mid-January and March 15. After a two-month gestation period, from one to several young are born in a den or burrow; the average litter size being about five pups. They leave the den when about 8 to 10 weeks old.

Hunting and Trapping History

The take of coyotes by hunters has been relatively stable during the past 10 years, about 13,000 hunters taking an average of between 30,000 and 40,000 coyotes a year. Most of these animals are taken while "varmint calling," while hunting other game, or simply as opportunities arise. Formerly, trappers rivaled sport hunters in the number of coyotes taken, but the reported take of trapped coyotes during the past 10 years has averaged approximately 700 a year. The principal reason for this reduced take is undoubtedly is the decline in market value of a coyote pelt as well as the prohibition of the use of foothold traps on public land.

You are Alone in the Maine Woods

If you are one of our outdoor recreational enthusiasts, this booklet will prepare you for a trek in the woods as well as make you aware of procedures to follow should you become lost or injured. This manual many not conatin all thre is to know about survival, nor is it a guarantee against getting lost. It is an effort to provide you with the necessary information to manage in the wile. This book can be considered an aid to survival until help arrives should you lose your way.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Web for Leaders

An ignorance of the language and capabilities of Internet-based tools creates a situation where today’s leader cannot see how their organization’s website can be fully integrated into their current organizational practices or integrated into their vision of the future.

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Friday, January 15, 2010







NON TECHNICAL SUMMARY: Northern bobwhite quail populations have suffered a dramatic decrease across their entire range since 1960. In some areas populations have dropped as much as 70% and lead some biologists to predict unhuntable populations by the year 2005. The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect that removal of hardwood blocks has on quail populations and associated predators.

OBJECTIVES: Determine effect of hardwood removal on quail nest predators pre and post. Determine effect of hardwood removal on quail nesting success and relative population size pre and post.

APPROACH: Year-round monitoring of radio-tagged quail will provide information on cause specific mortality, nest success and brood survival. Quail with radio transmitters will be used. The control area and each study area will be monitored using a minimum sample of 40 radio-tagged birds during both winter and summer for an annual total of 80 for each study block each year. A census of mammalian and avian predators will be conducted prior to and after hardwood removal to evaluate the treatments effect on these populations. Quail population estimates on these sites pre- and post-hardwood removal would be provided by fall covey counts as well as harvest records and other data from quail hunts.

Predators = Carnivores

Numerous predators live in Idaho, but many of them are seldom seen by people. The word predator means “a carnivorous animal that hunts, kills, and eats other animals in order to survive.” So, Idaho’s predators must hunt other small animals in order to eat. These animals are called carnivores.

What is a carnivore?

Carnivores must eat meat in order to survive. They are important to Idaho’s ecosystems because they keep other species from becoming overpopulated. Since carnivores have to hunt down and kill other animals, they require a large amount of calories to keep their bodies healthy, which means they must eat a large amount of meat over the course of a year. The bigger the carnivore, the more meat it must consume.

What happens when an animal species becomes overpopulated?

Sometimes, when there aren’t as many carnivores in an ecosystem, certain species of herbivores will become overpopulated. When this happens, the ecosystem becomes unbalanced, and herbivores can starve because too many of them are competing for the same food source. Carnivores are important in keeping herbivores from becoming too plentiful, which can also destroy the landscape and vegetation in an ecosystem. For example, populations of animals like mice and deer would grow too large and sick if carnivores did not keep their numbers down. Also, when an animal population becomes too crowded, they can quickly spread disease to each other and to other animals as well.

Teeth for meat

Carnivores have sharp teeth adapted for ripping meat from another animal. Carnivores like wolves, coyotes, and bears have large, powerful jaws that help them to grab large animals like deer and elk. Bobcats and mountain lions have powerful paws (along with their sharp teeth), that help them catch their prey.

Eyes for hunting

Predators’ eyes face forward and are located in the front of their heads. This allows predators to have better depth perception, which allows them to judge how far their prey is, and how fast their prey is moving. Herbivores have eyes that face sideways, located more on the sides of their heads. This allows them to see almost all the way around their bodies, giving them plenty of opportunities to spot a predator and run to safety.

What other animals can you think of that are predators? Humans are predators! We are omnivores, because we eat both meat and vegetation, but we are also predators because we must kill other animals in order to eat meat. Where are our eyes located? In the front of our heads, just like other predators!  Cougars have eyes located on the front of their heads because they are predators

What is an omnivore?

Omnivores eat both meat and plants, but not all kinds of plants. Unlike herbivores, omnivores cannot digest some of the substances in grains or other plants because their stomachs are not designed to do so. They can eat fruits and vegetables, and humans must process grains before eating them. For example, we do not eat wheat or other grains straight from their stalks, we process them first and then bake them into bread or other foods so we can chew them and our bodies can digest them.

You are likely an omnivore!

Most humans, unless they are vegetarians, are omnivores. Humans have teeth to help us rip into meat and bite into fruits and vegetables as well, and we have molars to help us grind up our food so we can digest it. Many omnivores, such as bears and raccoons, will hunt for meat or scavenge meat from other predators, along with plants such as berries and other fruits.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Simulated effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on a solitary mustelid predator

Brine spills associated with petroleum extraction can reduce the amount of suitable habitat and increase habitat fragmentation for many terrestrial animals. We conducted a simulation study to quantify the effects of habitat loss and fragmentation on a solitary mammal predator. To provide focus, we adopted biological attributes of the American badger (Taxidea taxus) and environmental attributes of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Oklahoma. We simulated badger activities on landscapes with different degrees of habitat loss and fragmentation using a spatially explicit and individual-based population model. Both habitat loss and fragmentation increased the incidence of habitat-related mortality and decreased the proportion of eligible females that mated, which decreased final population sizes and the likelihood of persistence. Parameter exploration suggested that steep, threshold-like, responses to habitat loss occurred when animals included high-risk habitat in their territories.

Badger populations showed a steeper decline with increasing habitat loss on landscapes fragmented by spills than on less fragmented landscapes. Habitat fragmentation made it difficult for badgers to form high-quality territories, and exposed individuals to higher risk while seeking to establish a territory. Our simulations also suggest that an inability to find mates (an Allee effect) becomes increasingly important for landscapes that support a sparse distribution of territories. Thus, the presence of unmated females with territories may foreshadow population decline in solitary species that do not normally tolerate marginal adults.

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Hunting Access Where to Start

Whether hunting public or private land the successful hunter will spend time scouting an area and talking with locals to identify good hunting opportunities and establish personal relationships. The first thing you will need is a good set of maps. FWP publishes the Directory of Montana Maps (466 KB) which provides a listing of all agency and local government contacts where you can find land ownership information. Also, contact the Bureau of Land Management , U.S. Forest Service , the US Geological Survey , or a local sporting goods store for a map of the area you intend to hunt. Land ownership changes over time. It's a good idea to verify public ownership with your local land management agency. You can also verify public and private land ownership on the web through the Montana Department of Administration Cadastral Mapping Project.

January 11, 2010: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers performing outbound operations Monday at the San Ysidro port of entry stopped a pickup truck heading south on Interstate 5 with 50 birds restrained and hidden in the bed of the truck. When authorities were able to remove the 46 roosters and four hens from their tightly packed compartment, 16 of the birds from the bottom of the compartment were dead.

At about 10:15 a.m., CBP officers pulled aside an older, white pickup truck, with Baja California, Mexico plates, driven by a 32-year-old male Mexican citizen, and resident of Tijuana, heading south towards Mexico.

Upon inspecting the vehicle, CBP officers found a hidden compartment in the truck bed.

Inside, officers discovered the birds, each stuffed in a nylon stocking with its legs restrained by a Velcro tie to prevent the birds from moving. The birds were stacked on top of one another, two or three deep, in a specially built compartment that hung from the underside of the pickup truck.

Authorities believe the birds were likely sedated for their trip and likely would have been sold in Mexico for confrontational rooster fights and related breeding purposes.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture transported the birds to a facility for their safekeeping. The birds that lived through the smuggling attempt appear to be in good health.

CBP turned custody of the driver over to USDA, Office of Inspector General. The driver is facing criminal charges, and is currently being held at the San Diego Metropolitan Correctional Center.

Hunting & Shooting Sports

BLM policy is to allow the safe use of firearms on public lands – for both hunting and shooting sports – as provided for in state law, and to cooperate with state authorities in the enforcement of firearms regulations. Individuals have BLM's permission to possess and use legal firearms on BLM-administered public lands, except when prohibited by other applicable laws and regulations. Both hunting and shooting are specifically prohibited near developed recreation sites and administratively closed areas on the public lands.

State law governs hunting and shooting sports on the public lands. It is imperative to follow these state laws and county ordinances, concerning the safe and legal use of weapons and ammunition (see below for more on this).

Ultimately, using firearms safely is the responsibility of the user. Always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire (aiming the firearm). Keep your action open when not firing. Identify your target and what is beyond – know the bullet will go if you miss. For your own safety, never carry or use a firearm while under the influence of alcohol or drugs – illegal or legal (including over-the-counter or prescription drugs) – that affect your alertness. It is recommended that you leave a trip schedule with someone before your trip and wear adequate clothing for variable weather conditions. Follow this link for more Visitor Safety information.

Unless specifically prohibited, all public land surface estate managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is open to hunting in accordance with state laws. Contact your State’s fish and game department for hunting and shooting regulations. There are opportunities for many types of hunting on BLM lands including big game, small game, upland game bird, waterfowl and varmint or predator (non-game) hunting.

It’s extremely important to hunt only on lands where it is legally allowed. Private land is open to hunting only if you have the permission of the land owner. Private land does not have to be posted with “No Hunting” signs for it to be off limits. If you do not have permission to hunt, you are trespassing and can be prosecuted. Crossing private lands to access public lands also is not permitted unless you first obtain permission from the private landowner. BLM Surface Management Quad Maps may help you in locating public lands.

Shooting Sports
Shooting sports or target shooting is permitted on any public lands that have not been administratively closed to such activities, and where target shooting is not prohibited by other state law or statute. Follow this link for answers to Frequently Asked Questions about target shooting.

State Laws & Regulations – “Know Before You Go”
State law regulates hunting and shooting sports. It is imperative that before you hunt or shoot on the public lands that you become familiar with State laws and regulations that govern these activities. Please refer to state specific firearms use regulations for information on minimum distances you can shoot near dwellings or buildings without the owner’s permission. The states also regulate shooting across public roads and shooting from motor vehicles. State laws and regulations governing hunting and shooting sports vary. Extensive information on applicable laws can be obtained by consulting the website for the state game and fish department having jurisdiction over the lands you are visiting.

Contact the Local BLM Office
Please contact the local BLM Field Office where you plan to hunt or shoot to answer any questions you may have regarding hunting and shooting on the public lands. They also can provide information on certain motor vehicle use designations and travel restrictions. On most public lands you may not drive off of existing or designated roads, primitive roads and trails. You may pull your vehicle off existing roads and trails just far enough to park or camp so long as you leave enough room for other vehicles to pass Follow this link for more information on the BLM’s Travel Management program.

The Predator Problem

Of all of the natural resource management efforts in the parks, the most controversial was the killing of predators in order to protect more popular species. Predator control efforts in the parks were in accord with the ongoing, nationwide campaign to control carnivorous enemies of domestic livestock, as demanded by farmers and ranchers and promoted by the Biological Survey. Inherited from army and civilian park management, the programs attained legal justification through the Organic Act's authorization to destroy animals considered "detrimental to the use" of parks. Determined to keep the national parks unimpaired, the Service acted as though the predators themselves were impairments-threats to be dealt with before they destroyed the peaceful scenes it wished to maintain. Mather believed predator control helped increase the populations of the "important species of wild animals," and he once stated that the national parks offered sanctuaries to all wildlife "except predatory animals." Shortly after he succeeded Mather, Horace Albright defined predators as those species that preyed on "animals that add so much to the pleasure of park visitors""-clearly tying predator reduction to public enjoyment. Albright saw predator control as a means of protecting those "species of animals desirable for public observation and enjoyment," and declared that the "enemies of those species must be controlled."


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Coyote: Biology and Control in South Carolina

The coyote has the general appearance of a small shepherdtype dog; standing 23 to 26 inches at the shoulder with a slim muzzle, erect pointed ears and a bushy tail.

The fur is generally a grizzled, grayish-brown but varies greatly from a light tan or reddish-tan to almost black. The typical coyote weighs 30 to 45 lbs, though coyotes over 60 lbs. have been recorded in other states.

Coyote tracks are similar to other dog tracks; however a coyote’s tracks are usually longer than they are wide. Their tracks are usually more compact than dogs’, and their stride is longer, about 16-18 inches while trotting. Typical coyote tracks are 2-3 inches long and 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide with the front heel pad being larger than the rear. Often, only the middle two claws will be present in the tracks.

Coyote scat varies depending on their diet. Often it is cigar shaped and may contain bone, hair, berries and seeds. Coyote scat may also be nearly formless and dark red to black in color after feeding on larger animals. The most likely places to find coyote scat is along dirt roads, on ridges, trails, near large rocks or prominent clumps of vegetation. It is believed that coyote scat is often deposited to mark territories.


Monday, January 11, 2010

The Bobcat in Massachusetts

The only wild cat now found in Massachusetts, the bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a medium sized feline approximately twice the size of a domestic house cat. The bobcat can be easily identified by its short, "bobbed" tail (3.5-7.5 inches), prominent face ruff, and slightly tufted ears. The coat of short, dense fur can vary in color from a yellowish to reddish brown with distinct or faint black spots along its flanks and white under parts that are also spotted with black. In summer their fur tends to be shorter and more reddish in color becoming longer and much paler in the winter although there can be much variation in color among individual animals. Adult bobcats weigh between 15 and 35 pounds and measure 28-47 inches in overall length. Size varies depending on sex with male bobcats being approximately 33% larger than their female counterparts. Bobcat tracks may sometimes be confused with the tracks of domestic housecats although adult bobcat prints are much larger than those left by a wandering housecat. Bobcat tracks have four toes in the front and back although the front foot actually has five toes. The fifth toe is raised high on the forefeet so it does not leave an impression when it walks. The claws also do not leave an impression as they are usually retracted.

Life History:
Bobcats breed from February through March. They are polygamous and do not form lasting pair bonds. The young are born after a 62 day gestation period sometime in April or May. Female bobcats produce one litter each year consisting of 1-4 kittens, with an average litter size of 2. The female is the exclusive provider given that the male bobcat does not participate in the raising of the young. The kittens are born in a den lined with dried grass, leaves, moss, and other soft vegetation that the female scrapes into the den. Dens are located in rock crevices, under rocky ledges, in caves, in brush piles, or in hollow trees, stumps, or logs. Females may use the same den sites for several years in a row.

At birth the kittens are blind and helpless but have already developed a thick coat of spotted fur. The female nurses the kittens until they reach two months of age. At one month of age the young begin taking solid food and venturing from the den. The young remain with the adult female until they are full grown, usually through their first fall or winter. Female bobcats reach sexual maturity at one year of age although they do not typically produce their first litter until two years of age. Male bobcats do not reach sexual maturity until two years of age. Bobcats live an average of twelve years in the wild and females continue to produce one litter per year until death. Although some young fall prey to owls, coyotes, and adult male bobcats, the number one mortality factor affecting the survival of both kittens and juvenile bobcats is related to food abundance.

Bobcats are shy, solitary, and generally elusive animals. Although they are generally silent, bobcats have a large repertoire of noises that they can produce. When confronted by an enemy, a bobcat may scowl, snarl, and spit, during the breeding season they may also be heard screaming from time to time. Bobcats maintain well defined home ranges that vary in size depending on prey abundance, season, climate, and the sex of the individual. Male bobcats maintain larger home ranges than females and it is not uncommon for individual animals to travel up to four miles daily. Both male and female bobcats use scent marking to mark well used trails and den sites. Their use of scent is thought to help individual animals avoid direct contact with each other as they move within their home ranges. Bobcats can be active day or night but tend to exhibit crepuscular (dawn and dusk) activity. Their activity peaks three hours before sunset until midnight and again between one hour before and four hours after sunrise. They remain active year round and do not hibernate. Bobcats are proficient climbers and will climb trees to rest, chase prey, or escape from predators (chiefly domestic dogs). Like domestic cats, bobcats try to avoid water whenever possible but when forced to flee to water they can swim quite well. Bobcats are well adapted to a wide variety of habitat types. They can be found using mountainous areas with rocky ledges, hardwood forests, swamps, bogs, and brushy areas close to fields. Bobcats are well capable of dealing with human influences but tend to avoid areas with extensive agriculturally cleared lands that eliminate other habitat types. Bobcats can be classified as common in central and western Massachusetts, present in northeastern Massachusetts, and rare to absent in southeastern Massachusetts. It is thought that one of the limiting factors to bobcat expansion is the absence of suitable rocky ledges that provide cover and den sites in certain areas of the state.

Bobcats are classified as carnivores. They hunt by stalking (creeping from cover to cover) prey until they are close enough to pounce or they may wait on a trail or in a tree to ambush prey as it passes by, they may also run down their prey over short distances. Although bobcats have a fairly good sense of smell, they rely primarily on their keen eyesight and hearing to detect both prey and danger. They most commonly prey on medium sized animals such as rabbits and hares but will eat mice, squirrels, skunk, opossum, muskrat, birds, snakes, and other available items. Occasionally bobcats will prey upon larger animals such as deer but this is generally when other food items are scarce and only sick, injured, young or very old animals are likely to be killed. When food is plentiful, bobcats will cache the excess by covering it with leaves, grass or snow and return to feed off of it repeatedly.

History in Massachusetts:
In the past the bobcat was viewed as both a varmint and predator. Until 1968 it was legal to hunt bobcat year round and a bounty was paid to anyone harvesting a bobcat. In 1969, Massachusetts was the first state in the northeast to reclassify the bobcat as a game animal for which a regulated hunting season was established in 1971. As part of the regulated hunting season it was made mandatory for hunters to check all harvested bobcats and it also closed the bobcat hunting season during the time when the deer season was open. In 1977 the state created a zoned season that only allowed for the harvest of bobcats west of route 31 and the current limit of 50 bobcats was established due to high fur prices and the increased demand for bobcat furs. Today there remains a regulated trapping and hunting season for bobcats with a state limit set at 50 animals. Bobcats are an important natural resource in Massachusetts. They are classified as a furbearer species for which an established trapping and hunting season and management program exists. Compared to many other wildlife species bobcats rarely cause conflicts with human activities. Occasionally a bobcat may kill livestock but it is not a significant problem in Massachusetts. If you are experiencing problems with, or have questions regarding bobcats, contact your nearest MassWildlife District Office. Further information on bobcats and other native furbearers is also available on our website:

Introduction to Missouri's Furbearers

Animals hunted or trapped for their pelts are called furbearers. They share the physical qualities of mammals, but have unique habits. Furbearers are widespread in Missouri. They are known as a group of mammals with some common characteristics. Much like other aggregations of creatures, such as waterfowl, upland game, or cavity nesters, the furbearers of Missouri are a diverse group of animals.

In one sense, all mammals are furbearers, since hair is a uniquely mammalian characteristic. Like specialized teeth, mammary and other skin glands, warm bloodedness (endothermy), and a four- chambered heart) hair is a feature of mammals that separates them (and us) from other vertebrates.

The mammal's coat of hair, or pelage, serves primarily as insulation to keep in body warmth or to retard absorption of heat from the sun. Specialized hairs and coat patterns sometimes aid in concealment, buoyancy, tactile perception (like whiskers), protection or communication.

Pelts (furred skins) have traditionally been valued for human garments and accessories, and mammals hunted or trapped primarily for their pelts are those which are usually called "furbearers." This is somewhat of a utilitarian definition, and while convenient, focuses on only a single aspect of this diverse array of mammals.

Furbearers are also well known for their destructiveness, their dreadful diseases, their sporting qualities, their sometimes inquisitive nature and the scientific interest they hold for naturalists.

The management of these animals by the Conservation Department not only includes regulation of an annual harvest, but also problem wildlife control, disease monitoring, and attention to very differing, and often contradictory, attitudes by people.

Read On

Removing Your Dog From a Trap or Snare

If a dog is accidentally captured in a trap or snare while in the company of its owner/handler, it is possible to successfully remove it alive if you know what to do. It is essential that you understand and can quickly and calmly follow the steps required to release a dog from a trap or snare. Your familiarity with the dog and its temperament may determine whether or not you will be able to release the dog by yourself. Remember the surprise and shock of being captured may cause the dog to become extremely excited or agitated, even to the state of biting at anyone who comes close to it. Your ability to reassure and calm the dog will be a key factor in securing its release.

Read On

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Coyote Management

Coyotes (Scientific name: Canis latrans) are one of Wisconsin's most common and highly adaptable canines. You may be fortunate enough to see one trotting across a field, marshland, or wooded area in search of its next meal. Sometimes called a brush wolf or prairie wolf, coyotes are extremely intelligent, skillful hunters and play an important role in Wisconsin's natural circle of life. The coyote is a valuable furbearer and it provides the coyote hunter, trapper, and wildlife observer with a great challenge.

Looks are Everything

Smaller than an adult gray wolf yet larger than a fox, these medium-sized members of the dog family have long, thin legs, a tapered nose, or muzzle, and rather large, pointed ears that open forward above the face. Like foxes, coyotes have yellow eyes with round pupils. Interestingly, coyote pups have round pupils while fox pups have elliptical pupils. They have a very bushy, black-tipped tail about a third of the body length. Also, coyotes are half the size of wolves with thinner muzzles. Males and females look similar though females are normally smaller than males. An adult male is about 44-52 inches long, including its 14- inch tail, and weighs from 25 to 42 pounds. Some coyotes even reach the weight of 75 pounds, but this is rare.

Coyote fur is moderately long and coarse, ranging in color from a dull yellow to gray. The back, neck, front of the legs, and top of the tail are usually a buffy gray. The midline is often darker colored than the rest of the back. Each hair on the upper part of the body has several colors and is tipped with black, giving the upper parts a dark, grizzled appearance. The underparts of the coyote are a cream color. The face and back of the ears are redder then the rest of the body. The inside of the ears, the edges of the mouth and the throat are white. The summer coat is usually more buffy than the winter coat. Coyotes shed their fur once each year, beginning in June and continuing throughout the summer.

When moving through their habitat, coyotes typically do the "dog trot" or a gentle lope. They will gallop if pursued or when chasing prey. They average about 25 miles per hour when galloping, but can sprint up to 35 miles per hour. They do not have great stamina for running and will tire rather easily. They can dog paddle fairly well in water.

Coyotes have excellent senses smell and very good eyesight and hearing. They live to be relatively old for an animal. They often reach 12 years old, 18 in captivity, but they're average life expectancy in the wild is 6 to 8 years old.

Tracks 'n Trails

Coyotes are secretive, shy and nocturnal, therefore unlikely to be seen, particularly during the day time. You are more likely to hear a coyote than to see one. Hunters and wildlife watchers alike can call in coyotes using predator calls. These imitate the sound of a squealing mammal in distress. The hunting instinct of the coyote is aroused and it will come in to investigate the source of the sound. You may also get territorial coyotes to respond by imitating their long, mournful howls.

You can, however, see signs of coyotes, particularly in winter, in just about any open area you may hike. Coyote tracks are very similar to those of domestic dogs, so you really have to know what you are looking at to determine if they were made by a coyote. Tracks are most easily identified in moist, firm mud or firm snow. At 2-1/4 to 2-3/4 inches long by 1-3/4 to 2-3/8 inches wide, their front paw prints are slightly larger than their hind prints that register about 2 to 2-3/8 inches long by 1-1/2 to 1-7/8 inches wide. Each track has four toes with blunt, non-retractable claws. The foot pad of the front print is larger and more triangular in nature than the foot pad of the hind print. The general outline of a coyote walking trail is a long, straight line, with a very gentle wave to the overall track pattern. The individual paw prints are about 14 to 15 inches apart. When the animal is trotting, the front and hind paw prints of one side are closer together than the pair of paw prints from the other side of its body. The space in between the two pairs of tracks is about 15 to 16 inches apart.

Coyote droppings, which biologists call scat or feces, often contain bits of bone, hair or plant material. They are long, twisted and segmented with pointed ends. If the coyote has been eating fruit, the scat tends to be more crumbly in nature. You may find scats where coyote trails cross each other.

Ways of the Wild

Coyotes are very sociable and frequently play with each other. In addition to hunting in small packs, they will gather to feed on animal carcasses or just to play. Even as adults they will toss and tumble about like pups. Coyotes advertise their location with smells and sounds. During the breeding season, coyotes are especially vocal. You may also hear them on warm, still summer nights. An individual may start up with its howl and be answered from a coyote in another direction, and then a third may join in and so forth. Sometimes a coyote will start its song with a few dog-like barks, followed by one long clear call that breaks into a tremolo. To the human ear, the long, drawn-out howl sounds lonesome and mournful. But to the coyote, it is just its song, its way of communicating with each other. When chasing prey at night, coyotes can be heard yip-yip-yipping through the woods. If a person happens upon an active den, the guardian parents may bark like a dog. Pups, too, are vocal. They will whine in a high pitch if they become separated from their parents. Soprano in nature, a coyote howl is much higher pitched than that of a wolf.

In Wisconsin, coyotes mate sometime between February and March. Although the same coyote pairs may breed for many years in a row, they do not mate for life. Coyotes can breed when they are one year old.

After successfully mating, the female coyote will seek an appropriately concealed den. If she is an older female, she is likely to re-use last-year's den. If it's her first litter, or if her den was disturbed the previous year, she will have to search for a new site. Coyotes prefer to enlarge an existing burrow, perhaps one made by a woodchuck, fox, badger or even a skunk. They may select an adequate space in a rock outcrop, along a riverbank or in a hole under a stump. Less often, coyotes build a den from scratch.

The entrance to a coyote den usually measures about 10 inches wide by 13 inches high. The den will have two or more entrances and will usually be about 3 to 4 feet underground. The tunnels leading to the internal denning area may be as long as 30 feet, though generally they are not that long. The nesting area is generally only about three feet in diameter and is unlined. Parents leave the den to urinate or defecate. The female will prepare more than one den before her pups are born so that she can quickly move them to the other site if disturbed or threatened or if fleas become too bothersome. Coyotes mark their den territories by leaving lots of scent on stumps, brush or dirt piles using their urine and scent glands. One way you can tell a coyote den from a fox den is by the tidiness inside and around the entrance. Unlike foxes, adult coyotes remove bones and other debris so these materials do not accumulate in or around the edges of the den.

Once fertilized, the female's egg enters a gestation period of 60-63 days. Sometime in April, a litter of 5-7 pups is born. Pups are born with short, rough, yellow-brown fur. They open their eyes in about 10 days; at this time they can crawl around the den. The male, who plays an important role in the rearing of the pups, brings food to his mate while she stays with the pups for their first two months. She eats some of the food to maintain strength and the flow of milk, but also regurgitates some to feed directly to the pups. Coyotes do this both during and after weaning. At 3 weeks of age, the pups venture out of the den to play. At 4 weeks, their fur has started to become softer, fuzzier and more yellowish. By the time the pups are fully weaned at 8-9 weeks old, the family abandons their den site. Pups learn to hunt by tagging along with the adults on hunting trips. By the end of summer and early fall, when the pups are about half grown, the family is hunting together as a small group, called a pack. The young are fairly capable of living on their own at this time of year. By the middle of winter, as the adults ready themselves for another breeding season, the young coyotes move out of their parent's territory. They travel long distances to establish a new territory of their own, often dispersing up to 40 miles away. In this manner, coyotes prevent interbreeding with family members, which reduces vigor. By the time they are a year old, they are ready to become breeding members of the coyote population.

Coyotes will sometimes mate for life, but in Wisconsin--more often than not--they do not mate for more than one year with a particular partner. Coyotes have been known to breed with domestic dogs in Wisconsin to produce fertile offspring called "coy-dogs." These often look identical to purebred coyotes.

A Feast of the Beasts

Coyotes are superb predators. They do most of their hunting after dark and will search for meadow voles, mice, rabbits, snowshoe hares, ruffed grouse and even deer using scent trails. They have an interesting method of stalking small rodents. First, a coyote locates a vole or mouse using its excellent sense of smell. In winter, when rodents are moving under the safety of a snow blanket, a coyote will stand motionless, cocking its head to the side, intently listening. Once it has located a likely candidate, it will walk slowly and quietly in a stiff-legged stance before pouncing on the unsuspecting prey with its feet. It then noses the dead rodent and eats it with relish. Coyotes benefit farmer and rural landowners by helping keep the population of small rodents in check.

Being able to sprint at speeds of 35 miles per hour, an individual coyote can chase down rabbits and snowshoe hares with ease. They generally launch a frontal attack, making a quick kill to the neck or throat. Life in the wild is not easy, and animals are often hungry. Coyotes will often consume the entire animal, but they do prefer the softer organs such as the heart, liver and lungs. Not wasteful, coyotes will come back night after night until the carcass is gone. Sometimes they will kick dirt over their kill to hide it from others.

Often coyotes will hunt in pairs or cooperatively in small groups of three or four. Since deer are so large and fleet of foot, coyotes usually hunt them in packs.

Depending on the season and the habitat, coyotes will take birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. They also feast on insects, fruits, berries and other plants such as corn. While coyotes are highly skillful predators, they often scavenge for food. Here in Wisconsin, coyotes feast heavily on deer carcasses or the remains of dead poultry or livestock. In this manner, they help clean the countryside of decaying or diseased animals. In a southeastern Wisconsin study, wildlife biologists found that about half of the food eaten by coyotes in winter was composed of livestock and poultry carrion. Rabbits comprised 21% of their diet, mice and other mammals made up 18%, and plants about 12 % of the total diet. In a similar study in northwestern Wisconsin, coyote winter diets were composed of 35% deer carrion, 19% small rodents, 6% snowshoe hares, 26% other mammals, 4% birds, and 5% vegetation.

While coyotes will occasionally snatch up a farmer's livestock, such predation is minimal in Wisconsin. As long as wild animals are available, the coyote tends to stay away from livestock.

Survival of the Fittest

Being one of the primary carnivores sitting atop Wisconsin's ecological pyramid, coyotes have few predators. However, they must still fight for survival on a daily basis. Life as a carnivore is not as easy, food-wise, as it is for an herbivore. Herbivores find their food all about them, in the form of plants, but coyotes must search constantly for their source of protein...other animals. That means they must spend a lot of their energy in the search, the chase and the kill.

Coyotes are plagued with a variety of pests and diseases. Lice, fleas, mites, and ticks infect their coats at certain times of the year, particularly in spring and fall. Mites are especially troublesome since they cause sarcoptic mange. Mange results in loss of hair, weakness, pneumonia and ultimately death. Internally, tapeworms, round worms and other parasites invest intestines and other organs. Coyotes, just like pet dogs, are susceptible to rabies and canine parvovirus, both deadly diseases.

Where in Wisconsin?

Coyotes are present in every county in Wisconsin. They prefer to live in areas where natural supplies of food and shelter are plentiful, such as forests, river bottoms, swamps, old fields, prairies, and drier marshlands. They especially like areas that have plenty of tangled woodland edges, brush thickets or other tall vegetation where they can rest and hide. You may see them trotting along old logging roads or hiking trails in the northwoods, or along an old country road in southern Wisconsin.

While the range of most mammalian predators has shrunk as our population has rapidly grown and invaded the rural countryside, the coyote's distribution has expanded throughout North America. Unlike its relative the wolf, the coyote has adapted quite well to people, to cities and to expansive regions of agriculture. Coyotes in southeastern Wisconsin, for instance, have been known to hunt, eat, sleep and even den in cultivated fields. And the coyote population has grown in urban areas to the point where coyotes now live at the edge of or even within the city limits of places like Milwaukee and Madison. Their population is definitely expanding to the south.

A coyote's home range depends on cover, food availability, season, social structure, age, and gender. In Wisconsin, coyote home ranges reach 8 to 10 miles, but normally are more limited to within three miles of the home den site.

How's it Goin'?

Coyote populations are at "balance" in the northwoods due to the presence of their larger cousin, the gray wolf. In southern Wisconsin, due to improved habitat and adaptability of coyotes to people, their numbers are on the rise. Idle farmlands, protected woodlots with second homes and an increase in private hunting lands have all benefited coyotes in the south.

History of Coyotes in Wisconsin

Coyotes have been part of Wisconsin's native landscape for as long as people have lived here. When white settlers arrived in Wisconsin, coyotes were very abundant in the southern part of the state. In 1866, a news report mentioned that a coyote had been caught within Milwaukee's city limits.

Prior to 1900, coyotes were as common in southern Wisconsin as they were in the north. But coyotes competed with people for the same types of food: rabbits, grouse, turkeys, raccoons and more. This competition, as well as their unfortunate habit of occasionally raiding rural chicken coops or killing a lamb, calf or other young farm animal, put the coyote in dim light in pioneer's eyes. People historically did not appreciate the role that native predators play in the natural ecosystem. They considered coyotes to be troublesome "vermin" or "pests," placed bounties on their heads, and hunted them mercilessly in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1863, near Janesville, a newspaper article invited all readers to take part in a "grand wolf hunt" (they referred to coyotes as prairie wolves). The hunt consisted of a long line of hunters spread out over a large area. They walked the area in unison and shot coyotes driven out of their hiding spots. A similar "circle wolf hunt" occurred in Green County three years later. The pounding that coyotes took drastically reduced their numbers in southern Wisconsin. However, their population increased in the northwoods.

Today, the coyote population is healthy in Wisconsin and you may occasionally see these animals even in urban areas. Year-round hunting with no bag limits still exists today, but a defined trapping season was instituted in 1981.

Coyote Management

For some western states, coyote management has become a major issue because of complaints of the animals' preying on livestock and controversy surrounding methods of controlling the problem. Because livestock damage in Wisconsin is minor, no special management beyond current regulated hunting and trapping practices is needed. Sometimes an individual coyote will acquire a bad habit of killing livestock (as do some domestic dogs). In such cases, the most effective solution to the problem is a quick elimination of that animal from the landscape.

Some hunters and trappers have expressed concern that the increasing number of coyotes in the southern part of the state is reducing red and gray fox populations, because foxes cannot compete with coyotes for territories. In fact, wild canids have a regular "pecking order" or level of dominance. Gray wolves chase or kill coyotes in their home territory while coyotes will do the same to foxes. Yet gray wolves and foxes co-exist well!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Montana and the Recreational Shooting of Predators

Montana statute classifies predators as coyote, weasel, (striped) skunk, and civet cat (spotted skunk). Predator shooting is not regulated by federal or state law or regulation. Predators can be shot in Montana year-round without a license by both resident and nonresident hunters. A Conservation License, or a state school trust lands recreational use license, is required to shoot predators on state school trust lands. Permission must be obtained to shoot predators on private land.

More Information

Friday, January 1, 2010

Wolf hunters reminded to get new tags

Hunters who want to pursue wolves after December 31, are reminded they will need a 2010 wolf tag.

And all hunters need a 2010 Idaho hunting license to hunt in the New Year.

Wolf hunt rules allow a hunter to take only one wolf per calendar year. Hunters who shoot a wolf between January 1 and March 31, 2010, will not be able to hunt wolves again until 2011.

Wolf hunting seasons already have closed in four wolf management zones where harvest limits have been reached. The season closed December 18 in the Palouse-Hells Canyon zone, November 17 in the Dworshak-Elk City zone, November 9 in the McCall-Weiser zone, and November 2 in the Upper Snake zone.

Elsewhere in the state wolf seasons remain open. But two additional zones are nearing their harvest limits. In the Southern Mountains, with a limit of 10, nine have been killed, leaving one wolf, and in the Middle Fork zone, with a limit of 17, hunters have taken 15, leaving two more wolves until that zone closes.

Wolf hunters are reminded to check the harvest limit in the wolf hunting zones they intend to hunt. Idaho Department of Fish and Game set wolf harvest limits by 12 zones. The season closes in each zone when the limit for that zone is reached, or when the statewide limit of 220 wolves is reached, or on March 31, whichever comes first.

As of Wednesday, December 30, the statewide hunter harvest was at 136 wolves.

To find out whether a zone is open, call 877-872-3190. The Fish and Game wolf harvest Web page is updated less frequently, but provides a zone map and other useful information:

Wolf hunters are required by state law to report within 24 hours of harvesting a wolf and then must present the hide and skull to a Fish and Game conservation officer or regional office within five days.

To report a wolf kill, call 877-872-3190 toll free.

As a reminder to all hunters and anglers, they need a new, 2010 Idaho license to hunt or fish on January 1.