We’ve long suspected coyotes are changing the landscape for deer hunters, but this season, Fort Gordon will start changing the landscape for coyotes.
“This was a main topic at the Southeastern Deer Study Group’s meeting this year in Florida,” said post wildlife biologist Steve Camp, who will discuss coyote strategies – and other wildlife management changes – at a public meeting Tuesday night.
Studies in several states have found that an expanding number of coyotes are killing a larger and larger share of newborn whitetail fawns, which scientists believe will eventually force wildlife managers, and even state agencies, to adjust hunting regulations to compensate for those losses.
Fort Gordon, with 45,000 huntable acres and a deer herd known for producing quality bucks, will be making a series of natural resource management changes this season that include a quota system on antlerless deer harvest in certain areas.
The post is also planning to step up programs such as thinning of forests, which will encourage more ground cover that – in turn — would provide more fawning cover for whitetails.
“Trapping or shooting coyotes won’t solve the problem by itself,” he said. “But one of the things we can do is improve the habitat so that it makes it harder for coyotes to catch and kill the deer.”
Tuesday’s meeting will also include discussions and details of the post’s efforts to restore longleaf wiregrass ecoystems and the wildlife it supports, he said, and information will also be presented concerning other changes to hunting and fishing regulations.
The meeting will be from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Signal Theater (Building 21610 on Barnes Avenue).
SQUIRREL SEASON: With squirrel season almost here, remember that the folks up in Antigo, Wis., are always looking for squirrel tails to make their Mepps spinner baits.
The company uses thousands of bushtail tails every season. They even pay for them.
The bounty isn’t much (usually 16 to 26 cents per tail, depending on quality and quantity) but it offers squirrel hunters an opportunity to recycle something that otherwise would go to waste. They will also trade lures for tails.
For details on the Squirrel Tail Recycling program, go to www.mepps.com or write to Mepps, 626 Center St., Antigo, Wis., 54409-2496.
STURGEON ACCELERATOR: There was a big meeting at the Pinnacle Club last Monday, where Congressman John Barrow held a roundtable discussion with local mayors, administrators, chambers of commerce and industry executives. The topic: getting money to repair New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam.
Although the meeting was held in secret and I was not allowed to attend, it was revealed afterwards that local stakeholders were chipping in $300,000 for yet another federal study to determine what will be needed to make the lock and its gates safe for future longterm use.
The study will take years, and any action beyond that study will take even more years.
What will happen sooner, rather than later, however, is the construction of the planned “fish passage device” that was proposed as mitigation for environmental damage associated with the $652 million deepening of Savannah Harbor. The crescent-shaped structure will allow sturgeon and other migratory fish to access upstream spawning habitat.
The difference? The hoped-for lock and dam rehab benefits Augusta and local industries that use the river’s water. The harbor deepening is being pushed by Washington and Atlanta, as a means to boost the economy and international shipping.
Most importantly, since the $22 million New Savannah Bluff fish passage device is a mitigation project, it has to be completed before the harbor can be deepened. In other words, you can expect to see sturgeon swimming upstream past Augusta long before you will see a renovated lock to get big boats downstream.