I was invited to a stakeholders planning meeting for the upcoming 10 year Big Game Management Plan. The idea was to make sure all the big issues were covered- looking ahead at possible diseases, anticipating human-animal conflict, dealing with a changing climate were all among the things on the table. The biologists did a wonderful job of summarizing potential impacts on the species that they manage. We, the stakeholders, were asked to maintain this high, issue-level view, rather than delving deep into how we each would like to see particular species managed. Fair enough.
And yet, true to white-haired, overweight, stereotypical hunter form, the personal, unsubstantiated-by-science bias comes up.
The deer biologist had just given his presentation, which basically said that in quite a lot of the state, the population levels could probably stand to come down a bit. This fellow, who I won't name, chimes in about coyotes. How they need to be managed. How they are hurting his deer hunting.
How is it that the coyotes, which have essentially replaced the wolves that used to exist here and that deer evolved to coexist with at a species level, are hurting his hunting exactly? Hard to know. I suspect he saw too few deer from his heated blind over a food plot...stereotypes, I know, but hard not to leap to them.
Yes coyotes need to be hunted and managed, just like many of the species we live with in rural New England. But why the outcry?
It is time for hunters to work to change our stereotyped image. Have thoughtful discourse that makes sense to other thoughtful people. It is time for these meetings to be attended with a broad cross section of citizens who can have a logical discussion on emotional issues, with an open mind and an honest appraisal of what they like to do and why they want to do it. Let science weigh in, heavily.
When he also thought gates should be opened up for more ATV access, I spoke up. Advocating for the quiet, dispersed experience I enjoy. My own stereotype, but one I'm happy to wear.