R. Goldman: Wildlife policy without demonization

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Natural predators are a vital part of every healthy ecosystem. Without them, other wildlife become weak and sick and the overall ecology becomes unhealthy and out of balance.

No matter how many times Paul Reynolds propagandizes (“A lesson to be learned in Lolo,” Sun Journal, Jan. 29) about the supposed evils of wolves, coyotes and other natural predators he so desperately wants his readers to demonize and hate, alongside him and his misguided cohorts, the actual truth will come out.

The days of unopposed demonization and abuse of Maine’s and America’s wildlife are over.

In his latest wildlife propaganda piece, Reynolds states that wolves and only wolves have greatly reduced the population of elk in a particular region of Idaho called Lolo.

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What he conveniently neglected to share is that the elk population began declining in Lolo many years before wolves had even returned there. He also did not report that in 23 of 29 wildlife management zones in Idaho, elk populations meet or exceed Idaho’s own elk population targets. Approximately 103,000 elk roam Idaho, thriving amidst hundreds (not thousands) of wolves. There are plenty of elk in Idaho for wolves and humans.

Anyone can find this information by visiting the websites of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and an independent group called the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

No one should rely on natural predator-hating zealots for accurate information about ecology.

When the rise and fall of deer and elk populations are honestly assessed, it always seems to come down to destruction or disturbance of vital wildlife habitat, weather, disease and over-hunting by humans. Objective wildlife biologists, including the state and federal biologists I’ve spoken with recently, do not pin “the blame” on natural predation. They accept natural predation as a vital part of every healthy ecosystem, just as most reasonable, informed and honest people do.

Which brings us to Maine. Paul Reynolds wants Mainers to join him in the coyote demonization campaign he and others are pushing here. No matter what the actual science reveals about the devastating loss of vital deer wintering habitat to clear-cutting and human greed, the related mortality of Maine’s northernmost deer population due to recent harsh winters, the lack of publicly owned and protected lands in this state — as safe havens for deer to reproduce and thrive — the coyote demonizers continue to clamor and scream for killing coyotes as their twisted solution to deer heaven here in Maine.

They are either willfully misinformed or dishonest with the facts.

Dishonesty, demonization and disrespect toward natural predators makes for immoral, wrong-headed and unhealthy wildlife policy.

Maine’s wildlife and wild lands deserve better than that, as do the good people of this state.

Robert Goldman, South Portland

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