In Maine and in a number of Western states, ballot box biology continues unabated.
What is ballot box biology? Put simply, it is when well-intentioned but misguided animal rights activists use the democratic process to unilaterally impose wildlife management policies that rightfully should be left to professional wildlife biologists and policymakers.
Last fall, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed the gray wolf from federal protection. Since being listed for protection, the gray wolf has bounced back in surprising numbers. In Montana, the wolf numbers are 500 percent above conservation recovery goals; ditto Idaho, with a recovery rate 700 percent above federal target levels.
Ironically, Colorado voters, by a razor-thin margin, passed Proposition 114, which forces state wildlife managers there to introduce gray wolves on the west side of the Continental Divide. Interestingly enough, a significant gray wolf pack is already there, apparently having dispersed from neighboring states with big wolf numbers. The gray wolf, like its canine cousin in Maine, the coyote, is a notoriously tough and tenacious critter. No doubt the Colorado wolf numbers will increase naturally without reintroduction, and all the expense that that entails.
Recently, here in the Pine Tree State, there have been a number of petition proposals by animal rights activist John Glowa to ban coyote hunting and trapping. At a fall meeting of the Maine Fish and Wildlife Advisory Council, Glowa’s proposals were rejected by a unanimous vote of the council. State wildlife officials testified against the coyote hunting ban proposals as well, arguing that neither recreational coyote hunting nor trapping has reduced coyote numbers to a point that causes concern for their sustainability.
Glowa, who is as tenacious as the wild canids he fights to “save,” is not going away. He will continue to argue and attempt to prove that Maine’s coyote, or brush wolf, possesses sufficient gray wolf DNA to warrant its protection from harvesting by man.
It would appear that the decision by USFWS to delist the gray wolf “in the lower 48” renders Glowa’s argument moot, regardless of the given DNA mix of any Maine coyote.
But then you can never be sure; the law works in mysterious and unpredictable ways. In the past, successful lawsuits by well-heeled animals rights organizations have managed to overturn USFWS delistings in Michigan and in some other states.
The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. His email address is [email protected]