I read Mr. Glenn Kimball’s article in the Sept. 14th issue of the Star regarding “species introduction”.
The following are my thoughts and suggestions regarding subject problems.
I was raised in central New York State and was an avid deer hunter. Back in the 1940s era I volunteered my services to the Game Wardens during the fall and winter months.
During the winter months heavy snow and freezing rain covering 2 to 3 feet of snow created a dangerous situation for deer. This situation, thin ice over deep snow, made it easier for domestic and wild dogs as well as the Fox to chase and kill deer. The smaller animals were able to run on top of the ice while the deer would sink through the ice causing them to become easy prey. The Game Warden and I roamed the woods on snow shoes to find any attacks on the deer. Every situation of fox and/or dogs, both wild and domestic, attacking a deer became our targets.
Farmers were putting out bales of hay for the deer. This was a humanitarian effort but was eventually a detriment to the existence of many deer because they became dependant upon that food and forgot how to forage for themselves.
This caused the death of many deer due to the human effort. New York State during those years and again in recent years had an overpopulation of does. They were reducing the natural forage to a point where the does were small and non-productive. The bucks were in the same condition.
In the early 1950s the State banned the taking of bucks. Hunters were only allowed to take does for about 2 or 3 years. This reduced the deer population which allowed their browse to become more abundant and of better quality. For several years after, the hunters were allowed one doe permit with four buck permits. This kept the doe herd down to a reasonable level. This also created a herd of trophy bucks. The deer population on the whole became bigger and of better physical condition.
Now: getting back to introducing a species of predator. The predator in NY State was the red and gray fox, and in rare cases wild and domesticated dogs. The favorite food of the red and gray fox was rodents and rabbits.
First: we need to reduce the wolf population. Allow seasonal hunting before their mating season. This would reduce the size of the packs by reducing the number of new offspring. When the packs have been reduced to a reasonable size, the special season would be discontinued until such time as it became necessary to again reduce the wolf population.
Second: Introduce rabbits to our forest, a prolific producer of their kind and food of the wolf, fox, coyote and eagles.
Several years ago the U.S. Forest Service introduced a method to protect vacationers from the problem bear in Yellowstone. They carried shotguns loaded with blanks and cruised the areas where humans and bears had an encounter. When they came upon a bear alongside the road, they would fire the shotgun toward them. The noise was enough to tell them to get back in the forest where they would be safe.
If ranchers were allowed to do this, their frequent visitors would quickly realize that it was not safe to try and attack ranch animals.
The Fish & Game Department has studied the habit of wolf packs for years. This knowledge should make it easier to determine how much the population needs to be reduced. If one season does not reduce the packs to a reasonable number then repeat the project for one more year or until the population is down to a reasonable level. Whatever system works shall be put into law and enforced yearly. We need to be aware of the forest animal food chain and work with that being uppermost on the minds of our Fish & Game people.