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Letter to Editor, Sundance Times, from Dr. Tom Huhnerkoch

This is my last note to the good people in Wyoming and SD who are truly
concerned about ‘their’ wildlife, with emphasis on the Black Hills
cougars.

 
Please come to the meeting next week, May 24th, 7pm in the Sundance
courthouse basement.

 
Do not be afraid to speak your feelings, ALL the wildlife, and ALL the
public lands belong to ALL citizens, not just to those with guns or
livestock.

 
This change in kill areas and quotas, does not just favor a small handful
of special interest, self centered folks, it has many large, potential and
unwanted side effects.

 
Once Game and Fish opens this can of worms, catering to the whims of a
few, the lid can never be put back. These type of people will never stop
demanding things and may make the politicians and ‘managers’ wish they had
other employment.

 
Secondly, although the Black Hills once was a source for the eastern
migration which could/should have allowed recolonization of the puma to
its historic range, this mismanagement coupled with the radical treatment
of cats in SD will pretty much prevent nature from taking its course.

 
As I told our Commissioners last week, ‘a vast majority of human problems,
regardless of the issue, are caused directly or indirectly by “two legged”
predators, NOT the “four legged” ones. Don’t ever forget this fact! You
know it is true!

 
I close now with excerpts from well documented studies related to this
fallacy that killing mountain lions helps deer/elk populations.

 
1. Large increases in response to enhanced nutrition indicates the deer
population was ‘food’ limited and therefore limited by habitat in terms of
forage quality.

 
2. The main cause of fawn deaths…was ‘starvation’. The decline in fawn
survival…is confounded by evidence suggesting a stong influence of
‘weather conditions’.

 
3. The limited effects of predator removals…lead us to logically
conclude that ‘enhanced’ nutrition will increase deer populations more
effectively and predictably than predator removal.

 
4. Climate was the most important factor explaining survival of fawns in
winter, adult females in summer, fawn ratios and population growth rate.

 
5. Mountain lion removal had a ‘minimal’ positive effect on deer
population growth rates.

 
6. The effect of coyote removal on population growth rate was ‘undetectable’.

 
If managers/politicians really wanted to help prey numbers, they would
stop hunting and enhance deer nutrition. Hunting should be curtailed for a
few years, especially of does. Habitat rehab with a strong push to stop
public lands grazing, a known competitor of prey food stuffs and the
education of people to the true value of predators are where the time and
money should be spent.

Tom Huhnerkoch, DVM,RN
Mountain Cats Trust – http://sites.google.com/site/mountaincatstrust/mountaincatstrust

Lead, SD

 

Lead, SD

 

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