Coyotes: the other wild canine
Updated: Feb 15
By Staci-lee Sherwood
Wolves have been in the news lately with the recent unlimited hunting that has decimated their population. Their cousin, the coyote, rarely gets the same media attention. Wolves and coyotes live in close knit packs with complex social hierarchy run by the alpha pair, usually the only pair that breeds. Solitary coyotes are usually yearlings who have ventured out on their own or old and sick members kicked out. The biggest difference is how easy the coyote has learned to live in an urban environment.
Unlike wolves which seek to avoid humans the coyote has managed to survive and sometimes thrive in densely populated areas. Much of this is due to loss of wildness and decrease of their food supply. As human hunters continue to depopulate areas of native wildlife like deer, elk and rabbit, coyotes will continue to move closer to human habitat in search of food. Sometimes this means someone’s pet cat or dog. The loss of a pet is tragic but would rarely happen if responsible pet owners kept their pets on a leash and an eye on them when in the yard.
If you live near wildlife remember it was their home first before you came. A six foot fence and night light can keep your pets safe. When walking a dog keep on a leash but also carry a stick, whistle or mace, most threats come from loose domestic dogs not coyotes. Unless a coyote is starving a little noise and picking up a small dog will go a long way. Cats are usually too fast and agile to catch but again never let them out loose or unattended. Keep in mind the media often gets it wrong, as do eye witnesses and coyotes often get blamed for attacks by dogs. Many ranchers have found success using guard dogs and speakers with human voices as non lethal deterrents.
A coyote mother and pups howl at the Minnesota Wildlife Connection in Sandstone, Minnesota.
Vilified like the Wolf
For centuries the wolf has been blamed for all the evils of man and so too have their cousins the coyote. Both species suffer tremendous abuse from trappers and hunters. Often blamed for livestock killing done by other animals, many ranchers call their local state or federal ‘wildlife’ agency for a pre-emptive kill. Despite names like Dept of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife or Wildlife Services these agencies have become little more than government sanctioned killing machines. Livestock predation never has to be verified or investigated. A phone call from a rancher is the only requirement.
A smart coyote can easily habituate in urban settings but are still vulnerable to hunters’ traps, barbed wire and assault rifles.
Some of the most egregious abuse come from killing contests. The name says it all. Many species have been targeted in these games for hunters but coyotes seem to be the prized animal to kill. Much of this hatred stems from hundreds of years of indoctrination by religion falsely claiming coyotes, and wolves, were to blame for the evils in the world.
Their extermination was cheered by the church and children were taught to fear and hate wild canines. This is what drives much of the hunts and contests even today. When it comes to our views on wild animals we are little more enlightened than our ancestors from the Dark Ages. Many studies have shown how loving and nurturing coyotes are to their young, loyal to other family members and pair bonding. Despite the science, the worst of mankind’s characteristics have been attributed to them paving the way for guilt free killing.
In 2021 Nevada’s Wildlife commission voted to keep the contests legal with Commissioner saying “What are we regulating?” questioned Commissioner Tom Barnes. “They’re really not doing anything illegal.” Many hunters in these contests prefer a gut shot which causes more suffering to the animal instead of a quick head or heart shot. Robert Crabtree, who did the seminal work on coyote biology in central Washington and Yellowstone National Park, reports that most “control” takes out the non-offending coyotes, the ones that are not bothering livestock.
This picture clearly shows this is not about conservation. This is not about an immediate threat. This is what many would call sociopathic behavior and demonstrated animal abuse. Many in law enforcement including the FBI consider animal abuse as a stronger marker for future human abuse like murder.
What does it say about a country that calls this a sport? You know what the answer is.
Moondog Madness Round Two weigh-in: Merrimac, Wisconsin March 7, 2021.
Coyotes, fox and raccoons can be seen here......who know what or who else he's killed. Animal abusers = human abusers over 90% of the time. If you meet a person like this RUN.
To learn more about these contests click here
Wildlife Killing Contests - FULL MOVIE
Take a look at all the states that have these killing contests. What does that say about our culture and society?
(against) Wildlife Services
In 1997 the USDA had a department called Animal Damage Control and the name was fitting. They were charged with killing any animal found to be aggressive or a nuisance. No investigation or proof was needed just a phone call from a rancher or homeowner would suffice for the armed killers to come over and remove the ‘problem’. Word got out to an outraged public and the USDA decided to change the name to Wildlife Services (WS) but their killing policy remained.
Every year WS kills tens of thousands of coyotes. In 2020 they killed over 62,000, as part of the ½ million total of other native wild animals they kill including many endangered species. In total it’s estimated that coyote killings number between 400,000 - 500,000 every year. This number reflects known kills. Aside from the WS and contests, coyotes are killed by ranchers and homeowners. Rifles are one weapon but compound 1080 is another.
The preferred method of use is to kill another smaller animal then add poisonous 1080 and leave it for coyotes, who are opportunist hunters. Aside from cruelty of poisoned death for coyotes many other wild animals are known to eat carrion as well. They too die from poison and then become another vector of death which keeps the cycle going. This is just one way the government ‘manages’ native wildlife.
Don’t fear this amazing animal
The public’s fear of coyotes is provided by those who either make a living killing them, ranchers who benefit from killing them and those grossly misinformed. Science based facts show these animals play a vital role in a healthy ecosystem. Removing them throws off the balance that nature created, We are part of the animal kingdom and need these animals to help keep things in check like the rodent population. Nature’s design was a true checks and balances that we have destroyed. Let’s not keep destroying the only planet we have to live on because there is no Planet B.
To learn more about coyotes and what you can do to help click here https://projectcoyote.org/
Also published on Emagazine February 15, 2023