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Outdoors writer/editor, weekly columnist for 17 Wisconsin newspapers, regular contributor to American Hunter magazine, and former editor of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine.
Whitetail Deer (18)
Wildlife Management (12)
Big Game (6)
Policy & Legislation (5)
Endangered Species (1)
Wild Turkey (1)
Natural History (1)
Upland Birds (1)
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Grizzly Bear (1)
Isle Royale: Are the $2 Million Wolf Reintroductions Working?
Jul 13, 2020
Riddle me this: How can a male wolf be both father and half-brother to a female wolf?
Answer: By breeding their shared mother.
Just such an Oedipal pairing about a decade ago begat what became the lone surviving “native-born” wolf duo on Isle Royale National Park in northwestern Lake Superior. The male and his daughter/half-sister became the last wolves standing on the 9-by-45-mile-long island in 2018, the inbred remnants of a population that...
‘Incredible Waste of Money:’ America’s Most Ineffective Deer Management Program
Apr 29, 2020
New York City gave 1,719 whitetail bucks on Staten Island the “big snip” the past four autumns as part of an 8-year, deer vasectomy experiment. The program hopes to reduce the herd population, Lyme disease, browse damage, and deer-vehicle collisions. It has cost the city $6.6 million so far.
As of early March—before coronavirus devastated NYC—City Hall remained committed to the vasectomy program, which began in 2016 as a 3-year, $3.3 million...
Rural Myths and Conspiracy Theories Die Hard
Mar 6, 2020
The only thing tougher to spot, stalk, and slay than the sources of outdoor folktales and conspiracy theories are the myths themselves, which seem to strengthen with each season.
That’s especially true of deep-seated conspiratorial yarns that claim insurance companies lobby lawmakers and pressure wildlife agencies to slash deer herds across whitetail country. Biologists simply strive to balance herds with the habitat or social tolerance, but some...
Can Trophy Hunting Alter Wildlife Genes?
Jan 22, 2020
Can so-called “trophy hunting” alter the genetics of free-ranging big game animals enough to eventually reduce the size of their bodies, antlers, or horns?
Short answer: In small enclosures, yes. In the wild, only in theory.
For our purposes, let’s define “trophy hunting” as selectively shooting only the biggest males of a species year after year. If that’s done, what happens? An infamous article in Newsweek (Jan. 12, 2009) claimed “trophy...
Would Hunting Grizzlies Reduce Conflict with Humans?
Dec 9, 2019
Whether you’re hunting whitetails, trapping wolves, or simply potting blackbirds to protect your strawberry patch, you notice when your prey changes its behaviors and movements to avoid death or capture.
Can hunting also “scare grizzlies straight,” making the bears less likely to cause conflicts with people and their property? After grizzly bears were temporarily removed from the federal Endangered Species List in 2018, Wyoming proposed a tightly...
Wounding Loss: How Agencies Account for Unrecovered Big Game
Nov 13, 2019
Wildlife agencies could more easily assess their state’s elk, deer, or pronghorn populations if every animal alive in August fell into one of two groups by Christmas: those registered as hunters’ kills, and those destined to see spring’s fawning or calving seasons.
It’s never that easy, of course, because legal hunting harvest isn’t the only drain on a herd’s bottom line. The long list of other possible deductions includes disease, injury...
Helping Biologists by Invading Animals’ Privacy
Aug 20, 2019
Pinpoint data from ever-shrinking GPS devices are giving biologists increasingly detailed information on when, where, and how wired-up wildlife move about their worlds.
But scientists are just starting to interpret what all of it means. The optimists among them think they’ll one day unravel much of that GPS-driven data and coordinates to explain why birds and mammals make their many mysterious moves. For now, though, they often can only marvel at...
Isle Royale: Save Wolves or Let Them ‘Die For Science?’
Apr 12, 2019
The National Park Service released four gray wolves on Isle Royale in northwestern Lake Superior in October 2018 to start rebuilding the island’s severely inbred packs.
Three months later, a female from the foursome fled across Superior’s ice toward its home turf on the mainland 15 miles away. Was that wolf’s departure saying something about the NPS’s “genetic rescue” effort?
After all, one reason the NPS approved a five-year, $2 million plan to...
Policy & Legislation
Baiting: Do the Consequences Outweigh the Benefits?
Feb 5, 2019
Most hunters who pour bait for deer or bears don’t intend harm, assuming it’s legal. They just want to boost their odds of seeing game, and perhaps better assess an animal’s sex or size before shooting.
Baiters certainly aren’t hauling and dumping food to intentionally spread disease, spark spats with neighbors, boost their prey’s fertility rates, reduce their quarry’s daylight feeding forays, increase predation on fawns and ground-nesters, or...
Coyotes Kill Deer, Not Deer Herds
Dec 10, 2018
Most deer hunters can agree on one thing about coyotes: They can be hell on fawns, muley or whitetail, especially during a fawn’s first six weeks of life. Researchers in some Southeastern states report fawn “recruitment” rates as low as 16 to 25 percent, meaning 1.6 to 2.5 fawns per 10 does surviving their first year.
But here’s something most deer hunters hate to hear: No matter how many coyotes you shoot, they’ll still be hell on fawns.