January 11, 2013

Letters to the editor: State coyote hunt poorly thought out

In a year that saw hunters take an increased number of deer, thanks to a mild winter, I am concerned that the previous speculation of deer population declines due to coyote predation has not been re-evaluated.

EASTERN COYOTE
click image to enlarge

A male Eastern coyote patrols its pen at a wildlife rehabilitation center in northern Maine in 2003. The increase in the state’s deer harvest between 2011 and 2012 should prompt the re-evaluation of the idea that coyotes need to be killed in order to sustain the size of the deer herd, a reader says.

2003 File Photo/The Associated Press

Irresponsible control of a poorly studied species without any core or long-term understanding of their ecological role within a changing ecosystem is out of balance with the crucial need for universal preservation of all wildlife.

Maine's coyote hunt exists as the continuance of an inhumane, unethical and violent tradition that historically escalates and has culminated in the complete extinction of keystone predators such as the Eastern cougar and gray wolf.

By promoting night hunting, no-bag-limit and contest hunting, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife has, once again, conceded to the very worst of what being a member of a diverse community can mean.

These tactics of pursuit are outside even the most archaic rules of aggression and/or war. What we allow ourselves to do to coyotes or any existing life is what we do to ourselves and will be the cultural legacy we leave for the future.

We can progress as a society. We can take responsibility for the harm we have caused to our environment, our diverse communities and to our fellow people. But to tolerate this sort of regression in being does great damage to the hope that we will ever begin to meet the incredible challenges we face to fundamentally change; to preserve, honor and protect the world we inhabit.

Joshua O'Donnell

Brunswick

To put end to gun violence, use multipronged strategy

As a pediatrician, husband of a teacher and a father-to-be, my heart goes out to the families in Newtown, Conn. The most basic, instinctive need of parents is to protect their children. As pediatricians, so much of what we do is meant to help parents and caregivers do this. We cannot accept a national culture that tolerates tragedies like Sandy Hook.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has long advocated for changes that will give our country a better chance at protecting our most innocent and vulnerable.

There is no one single solution to the problem of gun violence, but there are a variety of common-sense changes on which I believe the majority of Americans agree. As a nation, we must:

Ban the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines to the public.

Advocate for strict firearms safety laws.

Improve support for mental health services.

Push for changes in how the media report on acts of mass terror and the perpetrators.

Rethink a culture that sees violence as entertainment.

Limit children's exposure to media violence (e.g., violent movies and video games).

Invest in our youngest, most vulnerable members to foster their healthy, lifelong development.

Pediatricians, parents, teachers and all who care for children nationwide will continue to look for ways to comfort, support, nurture and protect them. We look to our nation's leaders to help prevent further atrocities like Sandy Hook.

Jack Rusley, M.D.

resident physician, internal medicine and pediatrics, Maine Medical Center

Portland

Kudos to letter writer Peter Howe of Standish ("Coverage of massacres feeds shooters' wish for attention," Dec. 26). I agree with him completely that the way the media sensationalizes mass killings only challenges the sick people out there, thousands, to outdo previous mass killings. Famous or infamous, does it matter to the sick, warped mind?

Within hours after the Newtown killings, the news media showed names and photos of every sick killer over the past few years, Columbine, Virginia Tech, Fort Hood. The Newtown sick killer is now referred to by his first name!

On the front page of the Dec. 26 edition, the Portland Press Herald showed a photo, with his name no less, of another sick killer ("Similar guns used in N.Y., Conn. killings"). Why? Why? Why?

Please leave the names and photos where they belong, with the police. Names, never, ever! Photos, never, ever!

Gerald E. Smith

Harrison

As reported in this paper on Christmas Day, a convicted felon who had served his time set fire to his house to lure firefighters into a trap ("Man kills firefighters responding to NY blaze"). He then murdered them with volleys of bullets.

Isn't it time we assigned an armed police officer to every fire truck, in line with the recent recommendations of Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, who proposed that we do the same at every school in America?

Given the profits of the gun manufacturers, and their obvious sincerity in wishing to make America a safe and successful democracy with less government, it would seem appropriate that they and the NRA set up a fund to finance these and future recommendations that would otherwise require public expenditures for guns and the people to carry them.

I would only suggest that it might be more affordable to arm the firefighters, though it would be difficult to fight a fire with only one arm free.

In all seriousness, this is another small-town tragedy of guns and mental illness, and we really must renew our efforts to build a community-based mental health system and remove the war guns from the store shelves and American homes to stop the carnage in our communities.

With 300 million guns lying around America, it is honestly difficult to imagine how more guns and "good guys" to carry them will help us now. Likely, all we men think we are good guys.

Jay Kilbourn

Kennebunk

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