Make Cape Cod National Seashore a True National Park: Ban Carnivore Killing
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Treat Cape Cod National Seashore like the National Park that it is: Ban Trophy and Sport Killing of Carnivores, Shorten All Other Hunting Seasons, and Fund Research on Seashore Carnivores
We the undersigned support a ban on carnivore hunting within one of the largest national park units in the Northeast, Cape Cod National Seashore (CACO). A hunting ban for non-edible species is necessary to adhere to the spirit of the National Park Service to ‘preserve resources unimpaired for future generations and to allow for and preserve the integrity of a scientific study of carnivore ecology and behavior within a national park. Additionally, we request that the CACO administration consider and adopt one of the preferred alternatives, provided by the petitioners, to reduce or eliminate hunting seasons for game species so that CACO is treated like other national parks. Finally, we request that the Seashore consider filling the recently-vacated park biologist position by changing Dr. Jonathan Way’s current position at the CACO from seasonal ranger to Seashore carnivore biologist. Dr. Way is nationally published and recognized, is widely respected as a local and regional educator and presenter, is already employed by the park, and is supported by the petitioners who believe that the Seashore and its wildlife will benefit from Dr. Way’s expertise and study of the park’s carnivores and its resulting data.
We the undersigned strongly support Dr. Jonathan Way for the position of park Carnivore Biologist at Cape Cod National Seashore (CACO). Dr. Way has received a 3-year permit through the National Park Service to study carnivores within CACO. His permit, similar to the one given to nationally known research on wolves in Yellowstone National Park, gives the park the opportunity to conduct an important study.
We the undersigned also ask for a ban of carnivore hunting in the national seashore and for greatly reduced seasons on game species such as deer, rabbits and turkeys (for example, one week seasons). Without refuge for coyotes, fox and other carnivores (fishers, otters, and potentially in the near future, bears and bobcats) in CACO, the carnivore study will be compromised by human interference, similar to the vast majority of areas in southern New England. Preventing hunting of carnivores in CACO would enable scientists and society to understand eastern coyote, fox, and fisher ecology in protected areas. Protecting prey species would also provide one of few locations in the Northeast where predator-prey dynamics could be studied in a relatively undisturbed area. Similar research has taken place on wolves and coyotes and their prey in national parks including Yellowstone, Denali and other areas, and these studies are often used as referenced points for other studies that may have more human-induced mortality outside of the parks. They are also famous with the public and provide millions of dollars of economic activity by people visiting parks to view carnivores. We are convinced that this would occur at CACO as well.
We believe that protecting carnivores at CACO would provide one of the only baseline areas in the Northeast to understand how carnivores live (e.g., pack and territory sizes, movement and activity patterns) without extensive human killing. In sum, there is good reason to offer protection from hunting and gratuitous killing of non-edible species on park lands and to shorten hunting seasons of all other games species.
Many scientists are advocating for reform in management of wildlife populations by protecting species like carnivores that experience persecution by state governments including on federal lands like wilderness areas and in some national parks. People are frustrated that their voices are ignored under state management plans where hunter-centric outdated models of wildlife management often prevail. For example, certain online websites routinely advertise predator killing events on and near park lands and a professional hunting organization filmed a video for their series on the beaches and dunes of Cape Cod and include two different scenes of eastern coyotes graphically getting shot and wounded on our public lands (watch at 17:30 on video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbrxzta_gd4. Yet our federal lands and national parks are often the only refuges for wildlife or areas where scientific studies can be conducted without hunting affecting the studies.
In this vein, we request that Cape Cod National Seashore (CACO) follow the December 2014 petition to ban carnivore hunting within the park and to shorten hunting seasons for game species such as deer, turkeys, and rabbits. There is no biological or ecological reason to continue to allow hunting within a national park unit and we suggest that park managers have an obligation to adhere to best science (indicating the ecological importance of carnivores) and not to listen to special interest such as hunting agencies.
We have also learned that CACO recently lost four full time employees in the Natural Resources Management department: a full-time wildlife biologist who had a specialization as a herpetologist, a full-time management/shorebird specialist, and two semi-permanent positions that assisted in shorebird management. To our knowledge, the Park has never employed a full-time biologist with a focus on the numerous mammal and carnivore species that inhabit the park.
Thru an interview request, we have learned that a local and nationally recognized and widely published scientist (Dr. Jonathan Way) and CACO employee has received a National Park Service 3-year permit to study eastern coyotes/coywolves and other carnivores within the park. Given the lack of reliable data on undisturbed populations of carnivores in the Northeast, Dr. Way’s study would provide invaluable data for the state and park, similar to research in other national parks like Yellowstone. Considering this recent permit, we ask the National Park Service to elevate Dr. Way’s employment to full time biologist, or if a hiring freeze prevents a full-time position, to a term position until a full-time position is allowed.
Dr. Way’s experience is almost unparalleled and a logical match for CACO. Dr. Way is a local scientist who has published or co-published dozens of peer reviewed studies and papers on mammals and carnivores. He is an experienced educator known for his lively and informative local talks on eastern coyotes/coywolves (and is how all of us met him), and has been working as a park ranger for numerous years. The permit Dr. Way received to study coywolves within the park required a lengthy six-month rigorous process with the national branch of the NPS to obtain permits. The permits include 3 years of studying eastern coyotes with red fox, fishers and bobcats as additional study subjects.
To hire Dr. Way either as full time or as semi-permanent employee would provide a unique opportunity to establish the park as a leader in carnivore research in the Northeast and to fill the wildlife biologist position with a respected scientist who is already a park employee.
To provide just one example of why this study would prove beneficial to the park, take Yellowstone as an example. The study of wolves led by Dr. Doug Smith is a world-renowned program and has helped change the public’s perception of wolves. We believe that the study on eastern carnivores could supplement the growing body of information on carnivores and their importance in the landscape and help foster additional appreciation and respect for Cape Cod National Seashore.
CACO has for many years maintained numerous shorebird focused positions, and now that these positions are open and the wildlife biologist position is likewise unfulfilled, it makes sense to hire a local specialist with an expertise and permit in hand that can enhance and help the park to advance progressive and exciting new programs to engage the public and fulfill the National Park Service’s goals of educating the public and maintaining resources unimpaired for future generations.
Louise Kane, J.D., Eastham, MA
John Maguranis, Belmont (MA) Animal Control Officer and Project Coyote – Massachusetts Representative
Elizabeth Brooke, Friends of Cape Wildlife, Provincetown, MA
Brooks Fahy, Predator Defense
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