John Harrigan: The delicate task of managing what's best for hunters and game
For years, muzzle-loaders could take either sex, and the number of hunters who took up the smoke-poles increased dramatically. So did the kill, and Fish and Game responded by tailoring the numbers every season to the point where now most of the wildlife management units are bucks-only.
New Hampshire's deer kill reached its all-time peak in the early '60s at around 12,000 as I recall, and in years since has been hovering between roughly 7,000 to 9,000. The deer population is mostly regulated by winter weather and wildlife managers do their best to respond by increasing or decreasing hunting.
Why not? Because coyotes are responsive breeders, meaning that when food is scarce, they have fewer litters of fewer pups and in times of plenty they get back to what's perceived as normal. If their numbers are lowered by eradication campaigns, they respond by having more litters and more pups.
Here in northern New England, coyotes have filled the vacant niche caused by our persecution of the less adaptable wolf and are here to stay - unless our ancestral wolf returns and then who knows what. The bottom line is that persecution simply does not work and the coyotes/brush-wolves bounce back every time.
The coyote takes its share of the pie as do hunters and free-running dogs and other factors such as road kills, disease and old age. So we live with this mystical and canny creature and simply view it as part of New Hampshire's wildlife mix.
Note worth noting: The above comes from a guy who lives on a farm that has featured various kinds of chickens, some of them looking pretty foolish with feathers on their feet and fountains of feathers erupting from their heads, and flocks of sheep and spring lambs approaching 200 (we're out of it now - enough, already).
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