A Coyote Is On The Loose…Police Warns Public

This was on my Facebook feed this morning and it really made me chuckle.

Now, if you want to read the entire news story you can read it HERE.   Yet, reading the entire story is not necessary.   The point is the police are warning people that a coyote is on the loose and that people are urged to stay away from it.

Really??!!

Yes, I understand that Richfield, Minnesota is a suburb of Minneapolis so there are some not-so-nature-savvy folks who live in the area, but seriously a public warning like this is necessary in our current world?

Moreover, why are three Minnesota Conservation Officers wasting their time trying to catch it?   Do these wildlife professionals not know that removing a coyote from one area only means that in due time another coyote will likely move back in to replace it.   That’s sort of how it works in nature…so, to catch the coyote is really an exercise in futility as most outdoorsmen commonly understand.

Oh, I get it that some pets are missing and that the coyote has been in the proximal area of these dead dogs.   I also get it how these animals are “cute” until they start to do what nature does, which includes the killing of pets.   Welcome to the real world, metro Minneapolis.

Seems to me if I was 30 years younger the business to be in would likely be the animal removal business located in the suburbs.   People will pay ridiculous amounts of money to have wildlife removed from their little paradise.   After all, wild animals are always cute until they start doing property damage.

Ironically, today’s little news bit reminds me of a the Onion piece posted not long ago.   Check out Mom Keeping Tabs On Coyote Situation which posted five weeks earlier about a suburb very near Richfield.   Now, if you’re not familiar with the Onion it’s a news satire organization which attempts to poke fun at various aspects of our world.

Sadly enough, even though the Onion seeks chuckles from its off-the-wall fabricated content, often times the real news–today’s example in particular–even trumps that which is made up.    Do you agree?

Random Thoughts On Cecil The Lion And The Lingering Media Madness

Okay, so I’m not going to describe the situation involving a Dr. Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota and the now famous Cecil the lion (apparently pompously pronounced, cess-ill) as most of us have already heard the story to the point of ad nauseam.   In fact, if you haven’t heard about it by now…then quite likely this blog post will mean nothing to you anyway.   Instead, go find some other blog rating diaper brands or comparing cavity fighting qualities of various toothpastes.

The fact is the story about the Zimbabwe lion has grown well beyond a prudent person’s sensibilities.   So much so that in today’s news I now read how the leader of PETA has called for Palmer to be lynched.   Really?   A group professing the kind, gentle and proper treatment of animals shows no compassion towards its own?   Of course, those of us who know PETA for what they truly are realize this is no big surprise.   Indeed, the longer they fan the media flames, keep this item newsworthy, keep it in the public’s mind…well, you know…the longer some people will open their pocketbooks and provide to them the reason they actually exist.

Admittedly, I don’t know many of the facts surrounding this lion hunt.   Very few people do.   Of course, lots of people think they know and have already convicted the dentist faster than you can open you mouth and say ahhhh!   Sadly, we may never know the true story.   At this time I certainly won’t defend Walter Palmer any more than I will condemn him for some terrible poaching act.

Still, I have to wonder how what could be a very innocent man ever regains his life back.   A person doesn’t pay $50,000+ for a hunting experience and expect the sort of outcome that has apparently developed.   I would think when a person hands over that amount of money they are expecting memories and a trouble-free hunt to be their dividend.

I remember a guided turkey hunt I was on in western South Dakota many years ago when I was at the total mercy of the guide.   I paid him a nice fee and he was expected to deliver to me a quality outdoor experience.   And even though the hunt never resulted in tagging a bird, it provided me experiences and opportunities in a part of the country I will never forget.

But, it also provided me something else.   It provided to me the understanding that when you are on a guided hunt you are not always in total control.   Case in point…we were hunting on Federal land when my guide suddenly mentioned to me hunker down and be quiet.   I asked why.   His response was because we are now on private property where we don’t have permission to be.   I said REALLY??!!  What the hell are we doing here!!!   I expected the guide to know the boundaries and to always play by the same rules I used in my ordinary hunting pursuits.

I learned.   No matter how well you vet a guide prior to the hunt…when you rely on someone else to show you the path toward achieving success ultimately you are no better than they are, sometimes through no reasonable fault of your own.

Personally, the notion of traveling to Africa for big game hunting has never motivated me.   I get it how some people want to live out those unique experiences and pay small fortunes to do so…but it’s not for me.   Still, no person should ever be subjected to what Walter Palmer has endured no matter if he’s guilty or innocent.   Protesters shutting down his business and essentially driving his customers (livelihood) away should be sued for his economic losses.   After all, one could call them protesters, but a case could just as easily be made they are more like terrorists causing direct and measurable harm against others.

It’s one thing to exercise your freedom of speech and do so in the manner in which you care to express it.   However, it is quite another thing to do that juxtaposed on sidewalks and private property so a client no longer feels safe to seek out the services of his/her medical professional.  Not to mention all the adjunct employees in that office who now have an unknown future because protesters have a beef with their boss.

Consider this.   In our country when a deer is poached who usually gets most upset?   PETA?   The tree-hugger neighbor?   Perhaps some other bleeding heart individual?   Nope.   When a deer is poached in America the person who is most upset about the situation is the other sportsmen who strive to play by the rules and appreciate fair chase efforts.

Now, consider how widespread poaching has been in other countries over the years when it hardly gets any concern or mention until the situation grows dire.   Even then, poaching hardly tugs at the heart-strings of the vast majority of the general public.

Yet, this time it was different.   It was the perfect storm, so to speak.   A story that was ripe for a social media and Internet explosion of raw and unbridled emotions.   Why?   Because the player involved appeared to be some privileged white male with money to spend on such pursuits.   Not only that…but he succeeded in taking a lion that had a name — Cecil.   This is anthropomorphism at its absolute finest.   How could some hunter travel half way across the world to shoot a creature WITH A NAME?   Presumably, when something has a name it has a personality, feelings, life aspirations, you get the idea.   Yeah, this time it was different.   An asshole blood-thirsty dentist shot a beloved 13–y/o favorite creature supposedly known throughout Zimbabwe.

Bleeding hearts have petitioned the White House pleading with the President to extradite Palmer back to Zimbabwe so justice can be served.   Surely we can trust a fitting justice will be served by the Zimbabwe government who can’t even take care of its own starving human population.   It’s all ludicrous.

Here’s what’s going to happen, IMHO.   This will all eventually backfire.   Mark my words.   No American hunter in his right mind will book a future hunt to Zimbabwe after seeing this incident play out with Palmer.   Soon, the money will dry up and then be spent in other African regions more hunter-friendly, so to speak.   Hey, don’t take my word on this alone…read this by someone who knows.  University of MN’s Craig Packer is one of the world’s foremost lion researchers who has dedicated 30+ years of his life studying the king of the jungle.

I recently saw a post on Facebook by Steve Pennaz, a long-time editor and outdoors writer who succinctly stated the following wisdom:

Kenya terminated hunting in the 1970s; since then it has lost 85% of its wildlife. In contrast, South Africa has embraced sport hunting the past five decades and wildlife numbers there are booming … from 575,000 wild game animals in 1964 to more than 24 million in 2014. Why? Hunting places an economic value on both wildlife and wild places. It provides direct incentives to protect and conserve these precious resources. Look no further than the Duck Stamp program here at home—it has raised more than $800 million and resulted in 6 million acres of wetlands conserved.

The honest truth is the conservation of a wild species does not come about by the people showing hype and sensationalism on the nightly newscast.   The efforts of saving and assisting a species so it can thrive is done often by the folks made out to be the villains in this activity.   I’m convinced how the people who shoot off their mouths in front a live news camera do nothing more than get some kind of emotional orgasm that makes them feel good.   How do I know this?   Simple…their rhetoric and well-intended gestures do nothing substantive and identifiable to benefit the species for which they cry over.

On the other hand, even a reviled dentist who may very well someday be proven to be a poacher, has done more for the conservation of African lions to ensure their future than 99.99998% of the people who have expressed their disgust for him and his killing act.   Those are the facts!   If you don’t like it then put your money where your protesting mouth is on this topic and make a actual difference for your cause.

Minnesota’s Buffer Zone Proposal Needs Careful Consideration

I suspect this blog post won’t make me popular among all sportsmen.

Particularly those sportsmen in Minnesota who have latched on to Governor Mark Dayton’s proposed statewide 50′ waterways buffer zone law proposal.

Is the new law proposal the panacea to bring pheasant populations back to respectable levels once again?   I doubt it.

Will the one-size-fits-all proposal achieve positive outcomes for improved water quality?   Maybe.

Does the Governor in his attempt to sell both farmers and sportsmen on the concept really understand what he is doing?   Not likely.

Ever since this buffer zone concept was first proposed at the Minnesota Pheasant Summit last December sportsmen have clamored to this notion of having landowners mandated to provide vegetative strips to “buffer” waterways from our varied land use (i.e. such as crop farming, etc.).   The concept was first introduced to a bunch of pheasant hunters meeting to brainstorm ways to turn the tide of our state’s pheasant population decline.

In reality, it was a savvy place to announce such a proposal because the crowd gathered all welcomed the concept and was hungry for something positive to grasp onto.   In effect, immediately the news spread like wildfire with sportsmen as the ambassadors carrying the message of this much needed change.   It was a perfect public relations scenario.

IMG00032

Predators love to roam areas near watercourses for the buffet it can become with susceptible prey often being easy pickings.

Well, truth is this concept is intended to have a greater impact on future water quality than it will have for upland birds.   In fact, I actually question if these buffers won’t become killing zones for pheasants, et al. as nesting and brooding habitat now becomes condensed to narrow corridors where most predators are ripe to roam.   Seriously, where do mink, raccoon, skunks, and coyotes do most of their traveling — yup, along watercourses.   It’s a natural highway for them.   Are you telling me that a nest that must sit idle for 3–4 weeks during incubation isn’t a large gamble for the birds anyway?   Let’s not make it even easier for the predators.

Honestly, that is one of my great concerns that deserves much deeper study instead of some anecdotal legislative gesture put forward by an elected official looking to place a feather in his proverbial political cap.   Granted, I applaud the proposal as a measure deserving consideration on many levels, but my concern is it’s nothing but a knee-jerk reaction to a problem that will ultimately not be served as promised.

Now, in full disclosure I am both a sportsman and a landowner who has a watercourse running through my farm.   To the best of my knowledge, there is no crop production that comes within the 50′ requirement, so I do not have any issues that I believe personally affect me regarding this matter.

But other farmers and landowners do have some legitimate concerns as it relates to their interests.   In one blog post I read yesterday the blogger summed up the agriculture perspective concerns far better than I could have grasped and/or explained it.   Take a look at this post entitled: The Buffer Strip Controversy…Debunked.   The blogger, Sara Hewitt, appears to be someone who understands the ramifications even better than our Governor.   I urge you to check it out.

This raccoon is not out for a casual stroll...it's on a mission to find food.

This raccoon is not out for a casual stroll…it’s on a mission to find food.

In closing, perhaps the aspect I hate most about this buffer measure is the simplicity of it.   To the average sportsman who hears about the concept…the immediate response is something like this: “it sounds good to me…let’s do it!”   Yet, I think such a cursory examination of the proposed buffer measure really shows a certain shallowness in thinking.   A shallowness by the sportsman in terms of a “quick fix” or “stop gap” action to fix a problem that is much deeper than adding a few strips of grassland here and there.

I might even call this buffer strip concept a false conservation hope that has potential for future negative consequences.   Indeed, I did not attend the Minnesota Pheasant Summit, but I ask what other substantive pheasant population measures did you hear come from that gathering?   I heard none.   It seemed once this buffer concept was proposed it overshadowed any other potential conservation action conversation.   In effect, the stakeholders of that meeting largely came away from the gathering skipping and singing “Happy Days Are Here Again!”

Well, time will tell.   I might be entirely wrong in my take on this subject, but I can’t help the fact I have some deep reservations about this buffer proposal, especially as it relates to conservation.   It could backfire.   I don’t believe the proposed measure has all upsides without some legitimate risks.   In nature there are few easy answers in this complex world.   Let’s be putting our efforts and our hopes behind proven science and not a government policymaker looking to increase his overall public approval rating.