Animal Emotions

Do animals think and feel?

It's Coyote Killing Time Once Again

Utah and Nova Scotia wage war on these fascinating native animals, God's Dog

It's been a while since I've written about the plight of coyotes and now, once again, these amazing adaptable native animals find themselves in the crosshairs of people who simply don't understand that their killing ways don't work and never have. 

In an earlier essay I wrote about the incredible adaptability of coyotes despite a century or more of extreme and reprehensible persecution by government agencies and others because of their supposed rampant predation on livestock. However, scientific research shows over and over again that coyotes actually do very little damage to livestock. Coyotes are adaptable, intelligent, socially complex, and sentient beings who deserve respect. An extraordinary amount of time, energy, and money has gone into coyote control. Nonetheless, it hasn't worked, lest coyotes would be controlled and the controllers could move on to other programs, hopefully less pernicious and more successful and economically worthwhile activities. I expect that if any of us were as unsuccessful and wasteful in our jobs as Wildlife Services and animal "controllers" have been in theirs we'd be looking elsewhere for employment. Nonetheless, the killing continues using the most heinous methods.

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Now, the state of Utah wants to offer a bounty for killing coyotes, and it assuredly won't work. Furthermore, "an increasing number of farmers recognize that coyotes are beneficial predators, offering free rodent control among other ecosystem services. They understand that a combination of predator deterrents and animal husbandry techniques can 'teach' resident coyotes to leave livestock alone. These residents will also keep transient juvenile coyotes out who may be more prone to seek novel prey—like domestic animals."

You can contact the governor of Utah here to protest their proposed bounty, one that is inhumane and useless. Let them know that detailed scientiic data support the futility of bounties and wanton killing and that opposition to these sorts of heinous slaughters are not driven solely by sentimentality.

The Province of Nova Scotia also is waging war on coyotes. Beginning in October 2010, "coyotes throughout the Province ... will be snared and trapped in a government-sponsored bounty spree. The killing, euphemistically called 'a pelt incentive plan,' will pay $20 per coyote pelt with the intent of reducing Nova Scotia's coyote population in half. Paradoxically, the number of coyotes that live in the Province is unknown. According to, Nova Scotia's Natural Resource Minister John MacDonell, the killing incentive is aimed at 'changing coyote behavior' and 'reducing a problem wildlife population' ... In seemingly contradictory comments, however, MacDonnell has acknowledged publicly that coyote bounties 'don't work to control the population' ... And there is no scientific evidence that killing coyotes changes the behavior of the coyote's that survive." It looks like the only conclusion is that people who support this inept program simply like to kill coyotes. 

Please email Charlie Parker, the Minister of Natural Resources at Min_DNR@gov.ns.ca and the Department of Tourism, Culture & Heritage to protest this useless and senseless slaughter

I can never figure out how and why programs such as the one proposed in Utah and the one in force in Nova Scotia find supporters despite the wealth of data that show they don't work. One conclusion is that some people simply like to kill other animals. I know it's incredibly frustrating to continue to actively oppose proponents of animal slaughter, but we really need to do it and not let the animals down. I'm sure if they could they'd thank you for your efforts on their behalf.

Detailed information about coyotes can be found at the website for Project Coyote.

 

 

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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