Ironically, at about the same time on Wednesday morning that I am speaking at the annual meeting of the Small Woodland Owners Association of Maine at the Augusta Civic Center, Vistein will be speaking about coyotes in a different room at the Civic Center. The annual Agricultural Trades Show is scheduled at the Civic Center on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I speak at 10:20 am on Wednesday while Vistein’s talk is scheduled for 11 am.
I will be talking about my book, A Life Lived Outdoors, and the landowner relations legislation that I’ve proposed and Representative Ellie Espling has sponsored.
Vistein was profiled today in the Maine Sunday Telegram. Her remarks are stunning and provocative. Here’s a bit of what she told writer Mary Pols.
Vistein claims that coyotes are essential to farms, where they kill lots of pests. “You name it, from a woodchuck to a vole to a mouse to squirrels,” she says, although she also reports that farmers must have guard dogs to protect their livestock.
I was particularly entertained by her claim that “coyotes are a lot like us. That is one reason that they are such absolute survivors.” She bases part of her claim on the fact that coyotes eat seasonally – rodents in the summer, berries later, then grass. She skipped winter, when coyotes eat deer alive – probably because it doesn’t fit her image of a friendly beast – or an animal that is a lot like us.
To Pols credit, she pressed Vistein about ticks, questioning her repeatedly as to whether coyotes carry ticks that give us Lyme disease. Vistein refused the bait, reporting “absolutely no research is being done on coyotes, so we don’t know.”
“If coyotes live a relatively peaceful life and are not persecuted, they have very strong immune systems. They carry on. They are survivors.” And finally, she admitted that coyotes could carry ticks, “but we don’t know.”
The Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife came in for a bit of criticism from Vistein in the article. “They actually encourage men who have nothing else to do to go out and kill them for fun. I talk to some of my friends who are biologists with Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and they show me things you wouldn’t want to see. These guys come with their dogs and hunt and kill coyotes and leave their bloody body lying there. And people see this. People have sent me pictures of coyotes in snares, which is like hanging them but handing them slowly, an agonizing, painful death. This stuff goes on in Maine.”
I’ll bet you’d like to know who those DIF&W biologists are who talk to Vistein!
Vistein’s time line is way off. She says coyotes starting appearing in Maine in the 1970s. It was actually the 1930s. And I took note of Vistein’s comment that, “before the coyotes came, there were rabbits everywhere in Maine.”
You can read the entire Mary Pols article here.