“The True Coyote Ugly”

At least 400,000 coyotes are killed each year in the United States. Do the math, approximately 1,100 are killed each day of the year. So why isn’t our government doing something to stop it… Because our government is behind it, they have been conducting and organizing this mass slaughter for nearly a century. Yes, it’s been happening since 1931.

The U.S Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services agency is killing coyotes. The agency sends airbourne snipers to fly over coyote habitats and shoot them with the intent of killing as many as possible. USDA government workers will kill as many as 100 coyotes a day. In addition, hundreds of coyotes are shot by Wildlife Services agents on land, killed in snares, mortally injured in foot traps, poisoned, gassed, or bludgeoned to death. Altogether, the government kills at least 80,000 coyotes a year. And who pay’s for these hunts, that have an estimated annual cost of $20 million dollars. That’s right, you, the taxpayer.

Well, wait a minute, what about the other 320,000 annual coyote deaths.  That number consists in what are called “Predator Killing Contests” across the United States. With contest names such as “Who can shoot the largest coyote” or “Santa Slay Coyote Tournament”or “Who can shoot the most coyotes”. Contestants use techniques involving mechanical, commercially manufactured and marketed call devises. Either to imitate the cries of coyotes in distress or imitating a downed prey animal, usually a deer or rabbit. Coyotes then come to investigate what they perceive to be a fellow coyote in trouble or a possible meal. Bang, bang, bang… and the winners get a prize, usually a couple hundred dollars, or a new assault rifle, and of course bragging rights. Coyote killers like to brag that they are protecting livestock and providing a service to ranchers. These people go on hunts specifically to kill coyotes, apparently they believe that their motives are inherently noble, and reputable. Killing coyotes, according to the popular claim, protects livestock. It controls populations. It helps farmers and ranchers and the ecosystem as a whole. Or at least that’s the claim. But this is just a smokescreen to disguise what they are really doing, killing for entertainment and prize money. Besides the chance to win a prize, what really motivates people to hunt coyotes so enthusiastically… People don’t eat coyote meat and pelts are worth an average of only $60-70, not especially lucrative. The top reason given by coyote hunting proponents isn’t food, or money, it’s population control.  However, science does not agree.

Coyotes are a predator species. They most often eat small animals, like gophers, prairie dogs, chipmunks, squirrels and even frogs.

A pair or group of coyotes might go after a small deer in the winter due to lack of food, but will eat fruits and berries in the summer and fall.

Livestock is not typically on a coyote’s diet. On the contrary, livestock will chase the coyotes away…

And in addition, there are ways to protect livestock from coyotes that really do work, such as electric fencing, strobe lights, and guard animals, including dogs and llamas—who integrate very well into livestock herds. Killing coyotes for cash and kicks isn’t one of them.

 

Nearly 100 years since the national coyote killing campaign began, North America’s wild dog is more prevalent than ever. That’s because coyotes are uniquely adaptable. Killing them does not rid you of them. As hunters remove more and more coyotes from a habitat, the small mammal populations that make up their prey will increase. When food becomes more prevalent, coyotes can adapt by increasing the size of their litter.

Studies of coyote populations which have been published by the USDA have found that coyote culling does not facilitate population management of the species. Actually, killing coyotes may indeed increase the numbers of coyotes. By killing coyotes, hunters are increasing the foothold to species lower in the food chain, and nature responds by creating more coyotes to control those populations. Therefore, stopping the mass killing is a good reason not to kill them.

Which brings me to the underlying reason and most common excuse for killing coyotes. “It’s fun.” This argument is real, and therefore not as readily fought.  Most will agree, however, that just because something is “FUN” does not mean that it is right. It is not unusual for several hundred coyotes to be killed in the course of a contest. How many are wounded and left to wander off and die slow, painful deaths is something that contest and government officials never talk about. Killing a coyote may be fun for some, but, the death has very real consequences for the remaining family.  Coyotes are social mammals, much like humans, and they need each other to live a happy and fulfilling life, and they hurt when someone takes that away.

Can something truly be considered “fun” if it hurts something else…