Killing of Coyotes in Laurelhurst‏

http://unionbaywatch.blogspot.com/2016/07/coyote-challenge.html

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Coyote Challenge

To my readers,

I was extremely disappointed to learn that three coyotes were killed last week, near Union Bay, in the Laurelhurst neighborhood of Seattle. Historically, humanity’s fear and ignorance of wild creatures has often led to killing and extermination. My fear is, if we do not learn to coexist with wild creatures then future generations will live in a dismal world of crows, concrete and mechanical contraptions. 
 
My personal goal is to promote harmony between nature and humanity, specifically around Union Bay which includes the Laurelhurst area. My blog about nature-in-the-city is called, Union Bay Watch. I believe that if we pay attention to wildlife, and treat wild creatures intelligently, we can find ways to coexist. 
 
A few weeks ago, I met one of the adult coyotes on the trail in the Union Bay Natural Area. Given the time of the year and because the coyote was out and about at mid-day, I suspect it was looking for food for its young. The coyote turned and fled into the brush as I approached. A perfectly acceptable response from a truly wild creature.
 
Because of my blog and my local interactions, I have talked with many different people who have seen the coyotes. No one who I spoke with mentioned any aggressive behavior. I truly believe the majority of the local people have been excited and happy to have coyotes as neighbors. I hope we can all agree that killing wild creatures should be a last resort.
 
The information I have read and the reaction from the neighbors causes me to seriously question whether extermination was warranted. The only justification I can find for the killing is, as reported on King5 NewsWildlife services received a request to assist in the management of several coyotes near the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Seattle. The coyotes had become increasingly aggressive towards people and pets in the area.
 
This statement leaves a lot to the imagination. I admit I do not know the details. I can however make a couple of logical assumptions given the information provided.
 
a) Since no injuries to humans were reported, I suspect the coyotes did not injure anyone.
 
b) Since no injuries to pets were noted, I suspect the coyotes did not injure any pets, either.
 
If the coyotes did not injure any humans or their pets then I wonder, What exactly did they do? What does “increasingly aggressive” really mean? 
 
Does it mean that in the Spring, with young to feed, the coyotes were being seen more often during the day, because their normal nocturnal hunting was not sufficient? Does it mean that the coyotes chased someone’s cat up a tree? Does it mean that they growled at an off-leash dog that came near their den? Does it mean that the coyotes came into to someone’s yard because the owner left pet food or open garbage outside? All of these fictional examples could be resolved with human education. It makes me wonder if the actual situation could have also been resolved with community guidance and instruction.
 
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife provides an extensive online resource entitled, Living with Wildlife. The highlighted link goes directly to the specific portion of the site related to coyotes. The site lists many non-lethal options.
 
Our Canadian friends propose a simple three-step process for learning to deal with coyotes. The Stanley Park Ecological Society says, “1) Be Big, Brave and Loud. 2) Never Feed. 3) Spread the Word.” They have additional links and information on their site, Co-existing with Coyotes. Please note that they even have an educational program for K-7 students. If our northern neighbors can teach their kindergarten students how to safely encounter coyotes I suspect we should be able to do the same. 
 
Was education given a fair chance? I have read nothing which implies that the folks in Laurelhurst were provided instruction on how to co-exist with coyotes. The next time your organization is contacted to resolved an issue with coyotes, I sincerely hope you will ensure that the community as a whole gets to participate in the process and that the educational alternatives are fully exhausted.
 
Thank you in advance for your thoughtful consideration of this issue.
 
Larry Hubbell
www.UnionBayWatch.blogspot.com

Update to Readers:

Does anyone happen to have a photo of the coyotes they would be willing to share?

Thank you to Doug Parrott for sharing his coyote photo taken on June 26th at the Union Bay Natural Area.

More Updates:

From the folks at The Laurelhurst Blog.

Here is the post the Laurelhurst Blog did on Friday about the killings:

9 thoughts on “Killing of Coyotes in Laurelhurst‏

  1. Jim, thanks for re-posting this. I’ve been away from Seattle and didn’t realize this had occurred until I read about it in Larry’s blog. It appears the people in charge of the killing employed Wildlife Services methodologies against the wishes of community members who enjoy and appreciate having coyotes in their midst. The accounts these people shared, about hearing the coyotes shot and then crying (including the mom with pups), split my heart in two. I realize this is a microcosm of the bigger, darker picture we all understand. I hope, however, when the human-coyote issue touches people personally and viscerally as this incident did, it inspires continued momentum toward the co-existence model of compassionate conservation for all wild animals.

  2. We all know how eager Wildlife Services is to help. Unfortunately, a lot of their management comes in the form of bullets and poison.

    If we weren’t taking so much wildlife habitat we wouldn’t have coyotes, deer, and moose in our neighborhoods. The animals are in more danger from the people than the people are from them.

    I would suggest that people keep their cats indoors, where they are always safer, and watch small dogs in yards. I expect that some people will be warning about dangers to “the children.” So far I haven’t seen a history of any small urchins being consumed by coyotes on their way to school.

  3. The picture of the coyote looks so much like the animal I saw out my window yesterday early morning after heavy rain. I thought he was a wet red fox who has been running across my yard — but just may be he was a coyote. Haven’t seen the red fox lately, as he learned he can’t out run my squirrels who just taunt him after he runs from tree to tree panting — to finally walking away with hurt pride.

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