Sunday, November 25, 2012

Outrageous Cruelty to Coyotes for No Reason at All


One of our beautiful coyotes, photographed during the summer
In New York State, hunters are allowed to kill Coyotes –day or night; there are no “bag limits”, which means that someone can kill as many as they want. The season goes from October 1st to March 31st. No pelt seal is required, nor are hunters obligated to submit any information to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Now that’s freedom for you.
The most typical view of a coyote -- running away at top speed

There’s absolutely no good reason for anyone to be shooting coyotes in our area, but many deer hunters do it routinely. They also seem to show great pride in ridding our communities of the non-existent menace that the wild dogs pose. Their stated justifications for coyote extermination are unscientific and often burgeon on the ridiculous. They paint a picture of coyotes menacing people, killing domestic dogs and even stealing cats from people’s back porches (The hunters’ sudden concern for the welfare of our domestic cats is enough to bring me to tears.) Of course, there’s practically zero evidence backing up these claims in the entire Northeast, let alone in our own region of New York State; still, the coyote killers always act as if they are doing the community some great favor.
Another brief look at a coyote, before he turns and runs away
Some deer hunters will occasionally tell the truth and say that they kill coyotes because they don’t want them to kill any of their deer, and in this one case, I think they actually believe what they are saying. In some regions, like the Adirondacks, coyotes are known to regularly take deer, while in other regions, including our own, they have very different food preferences. In fact they mostly concentrate on easier and more plentiful prey like rabbits and other small mammals. They also eat a fair bit of fruit and other vegetable material, which would be all too obvious if these “outdoorsmen” would take a few minutes to study the animals that they are persecuting.
A very rare sight -- a coyote kit, seen here crossing a log over a creek
Ironically, even our coyotes feed on deer this time of year, and that's because the hunters leave gut piles all over the place from their own deer kills. The hunters are in effect, baiting the woods with the equivalent of hundreds of cans of dog food, only to kill the dogs when they come to partake. Baiting deer is illegal –baiting coyotes, not so much.
A mother Coyote with her kits
In reality, Coyotes are very shy animals. In 20 years of spending the majority of my time outdoors, I've never seen or heard of any instances of them menacing anyone. When a coyote sees a person, they invariably turn around and run away at top speed –and obviously, they have good reason to behave that way.

We are currently in the midst of the rifle season for deer, and so we are being treated to a glut of camouflage clad hunters swarming all over our neighbor’s lands, trying their best to kill something or other. Each year I patrol our well-posted nature preserve to make sure no one is turning our land into the killing fields –and believe me, they would if someone wasn't watching them. A few days ago, as I was going through one of our gates, I heard a loud rifle shot from the land just beyond the property border. I then heard a terrible agonizing scream –which lasted for about a minute. I thought for a moment that some hunter had shot himself, but then I realized that it was a coyote that was the source of the cry. Evidently, the coyote had wandered too close to a tree stand were some brave sniper was perched. Judging by some subsequent barking sounds I heard, the coyote wasn't alone, but had a companion –probably a relative that was with him at the time of the atrocious act. Some low barks of sympathy from a friend were probably the last thing the unfortunate wild dog heard.

A nervous mother bounces up and down in a the field to try to see an intruder over the tall grass
Well at least some dude who was out to shoot something this morning wasn't disappointed. Bear in mind the coyote’s body will just be left where it fell. No one wants it.
One of the most popular arguments in favor of deer hunting is the idea that the population of nuisance deer are kept low, but then if they all believe that coyotes are thinning the deer herd already, then aren't they undermining their own justification? In areas where deer are regularly taken by coyotes, farmers and land owners should be made aware that when they allow deer hunters to shoot coyotes on their land, they are in effect cancelling out all of the deer population control implemented by those coyotes. In other words, those hunter guys aren't doing you any favors, Farmer John.
Even in areas where coyotes take deer, the chances of them taking down an adult buck are slim to nil
I've been lucky enough to hear the way some hunters talk about coyotes when they think that no one is listening. I heard one guy last week referring to a coyote that he shot at and missed, as a "Mother F##ker". Realize, this is coming from an expert hunter that typically wounds about 6 deer for every one he kills each year. These are the types of heroes that our New York State Department of Environmental Conservation entrusts to provide wildlife population control services in our great State.
Once our region had a much greater diversity of mammalian predators; we had Black Bear, Gray Wolves, Cougar, Wolverine and more. In the colonial period, all of them were exterminated based on fairy-tail ideas of the threats they posed to people. Well those fantasies were wild exaggerations then and they are especially not true now in regards to coyotes, so please tell your New York State legislators that our coyotes should be allowed to live in peace, and to rescind the DEC's outrageous extermination policy.

2 comments:

  1. oh Matt, I hear your pain. I wish we all had more respect for all life.
    What is remarkable is that coyotes are coming back. I live in the DC metro area and I've spied individual coyote in Rock Creek Park in downtown DC. My city of Greenbelt MD has had sightings.

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