Coyotes get a bad rap

expert tells Parry Sound Nature Club Coyote Watch Canada hopes to change perception through education COMMUNITY Apr 02, 2018 by Cathy Novak Parry Sound North Star

Coyote watch <>

Coyotes get a bad reputation according to an official from Coyote Watch Canada. April 2, 2018. – Coyote Watch Canada

PARRY SOUND — The Parry Sound Nature Club was privileged to host a presentation by Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada at their meeting on March 21 at the West Parry Sound District Museum.

The meeting room was filled to capacity — seems coyotes and the chance to learn about coexisting peacefully with them is something many are interested in. Sampson opened her presentation with a beautiful photo of a coyote and the quote, “How you see me is but a mere reflection of you.” Coyotes have caught a bad rap in the past, and one of Lesley’s missions is changing perceptions through educating, engaging and empowering the public to foster respect, acceptance, and compassionate coexistence with these incredible animals.

The Eastern Coyote is a member of the canid family which includes foxes, wolves and dogs. Genetic testing has shown that there is a great degree of mixing of coyote, wolf, and dog DNA, but genetics and DNA really don’t have much bearing on the ability to coexist and minimize conflict. There are many myths about coyotes that Sampson enthusiastically and rationally dispelled. Coyotes do not abandon their pups — they are devoted and diligent parents. Coyotes do not lure dogs away — coyotes are curious and may come close to investigate, but when a dog chases them, they run away … and the dog often follows! Coyotes seen during the day are not ill — coyotes can be active all day, and the young, especially, are very curious and mobile. There is really no difference between coyotes and coywolves — it’s a matter of infinite degrees of mixing of DNA. It’s a myth that foxes and coyotes do not share the land — this is false as they often live in the same territory. The yipping sounds that they make do not mean that they have killed something — coyotes have many reasons to vocalize and a wide repertoire of sounds. Coyotes do not stalk people — it’s usually just a matter of following you (especially if you have a dog with you) out of curiosity, or because they have been fed by others and are hoping for another meal (they learn very quickly, especially when it comes to food). Many folks wonder if coyotes are dangerous. According to statistics, the top three animals for causing death to humans (in order) are farm animals, bees/wasps/hornets, and domestic dogs — coyotes did not make the list.

Coyote Watch Canada has a four-cornerstone approach. Investigation — a critical step in determining the facts of the situation to decide on the correct response. Education — get the right information out to the public. Enforcement — promote enforcement of local bylaws that assist in reducing negative interactions between humans and canids (for example: leash laws, property maintenance and garbage disposal, etc.). Prevention — using deterrents and aversion conditioning to reduce interactions and redirect coyote behaviour.

In the Niagara area where Sampson works with Coyote Watch Canada, sightings are recorded and mapped to determine and monitor coyote “hot spots.” Response teams can then be dispatched to investigate, assist with aversion conditioning, and educate the public on how to coexist with coyotes and reduce problem interactions. The sightings maps can give a snapshot of coyote ecology and seasonal changes, and connect data with ‘citizen science’.

Sampson presented some brief facts about the general ecology of coyotes. The more we know about our neighbours (in this case, anyway), the easier it is to get along! Coyotes mate for life and breed in late January/early February. They share pup-rearing duties. The male will deliver food to the female while she is nursing and can’t leave the den, and once the pups are weaned by six weeks of age, both adults will feed the pups. It is not uncommon for older siblings, aunts and uncles to help with rearing pups. Coyotes communicate by vocalizing and make a wide range of sounds. Coyotes can breed in their first year, and have a gestation period of 62-63 days. They are “fossorial” — they den underground, and often have multiple den sites. They are diurnal, generally most active at dusk and dawn, depending on habitat. In a stable territory, the alpha pair may have litters ranging from two to 10 pups, with the average around six. This sounds like a lot, but 70 per cent of pups die in their first year. Coyote sightings often increase in May and June — the alpha pair will be quite active, as both are out hunting to provide food for the growing pups and themselves, and the pups themselves are out of the den and learning to hunt.

Coyotes are a keystone species for healthy ecosystems, so coexistence is a much better approach than eradication. They are adaptive, intelligent and resourceful. They have a varied diet but mostly eat rodents (up to 70 per cent of their diet) and are excellent mousers, as well as being “nature’s cleanup crew” by eating roadkill and other carrion.

Sampson talked about the “High 5 for Safety” when encountering a coyote (or other animal). Stop — pick up small children or dogs; stand still — take a moment to assess and think about what’s happening, don’t react rashly; shout and wave your arms — scare it away; slowly back away — maintain eye contact and don’t run; share the experience — report the sighting to Coyote Watch or other authority.

To minimize negative interactions between coyotes and people, especially people with dogs, there are important points to remember. Always keep your dog on a leash in areas known to be inhabited by coyotes or other wild canids. In 92 per cent of dog/coyote interactions, the dog was off-leash. Dogs should never be allowed to chase any kind of wildlife; besides the harassment to the animal, your dog may lead the animal right back to you! Bag up and carry out all dog poop. Be aware of the season and what coyotes might be up to at that time of year — denning, mating, raising pups. Report intentional feeding and attractants such as garbage, along with any sightings to Coyote Watch or your municipality.

Sampson provided a thorough, fascinating and engaging education on coyotes to the Parry Sound Nature Club. Her genuine concern and passion for these animals coupled with her first-hand experience and knowledge make her the ultimate advocate for coyotes. Those in attendance at her presentation came away with a better understanding of how to coexist with these wonderful animals. For more information, check out the Coyote Watch Canada website at

The Parry Sound Nature Club meets on the third Wednesday of each month. Please join us for the next meeting at 7 p.m. on April 18 at the West Parry Sound District Museum. Guest speaker will be Alanna Smoleraz about her volunteer experience in the Seychelles, Africa, with Wildlife ACT. During her time there she got to see and work with various birds, fish, terrapins, giant Aldabra tortoises and, of course, sea turtles. She will share what she learned, and what she was able to contribute to the various wildlife and conservation projects there.


Perry County substitute teacher fired after hunting rifle left in vehicle on campus

Perry County substitute teacher fired after hunting rifle left in vehicle on campus

PERRYVILLE, Mo. – A substitute teacher in Perry County School District 32 will not be allowed to work in the district again after a rifle was found in his vehicle Friday afternoon.

According to the Perryville Police Department, officers were dispatched to the Perryville Career and Technology Center around 1:30 p.m. for a report of a weapon in a vehicle.

Students at the center noticed the rifle in the teacher’s car and told an instructor. The school resource officer got the teacher who owned the vehicle and the weapon—a .22 caliber hunting rifle—was removed from the vehicle for safekeeping. The teacher told police he’d been coyote hunting the night before and forgot the rifle was in his car.

The substitute teacher was later escorted from the campus and brought to the police department.

The Perry County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is weighing whether to file charges against the teacher for having a firearm on school property.

Meanwhile, Perry County School District Superintendent Andy Comstock sent a message to all parents about the incident. Comstock said the substitute teacher passed all criminal background checks before being hired. And while it’s believed there was never any “intent to harm or threaten anyone,” the superintendent said the substitute teacher will no longer be welcome to work for the district in any capacity.

The superintendent also praised the students for alerting school officials.

This incident highlights the challenges facing schools today.

There are dangers to children today that did not exist a generation ago. Our staff, and even our students, are constantly vigilant for anything that seems to be suspicious. We stress the importance of “If you see something, say something.” Our students did that today.

Their vigilance paid off, and our crisis plan and training allowed us to ensure that our students were safe.

I know it’s a scary time to be a parent, an educator or a student. With the recent school tragedies across our nation, and false alarms on our campus, we have appreciated the community’s support for our teachers and children. I hope that you understand that your continued support is needed now more than ever, as we work to further secure our campus to keep our children safe.


March 1 marked the beginning of the annual coyote challenge. For the 2nd year in a row the state is sponsoring the co…

Posted: Mar. 7, 2018 11:10 AM
Updated: Mar. 7, 2018 11:41 AM

March 1 marked the beginning of the annual coyote challenge. For the 2nd year in a row the state is sponsoring the competition to allow the hunter who brings in the most coyotes to be entered into drawings for a chance to win a lifetime hunting license or prize of similar value.

Trapper Jason Chapman is among this year’s participants.

“This is our trapping pack basket, it’s got all of our equipment, it’s got our traps ready to go,” said Chapman is also with Predator Control Services, a company that provides wildlife removal for a wide range of animals. That day Chapman was once again in search of what he calls nuisance coyotes. “The population has just exploded in the last five years even in these urban environments and that’s just not good to have,” added Chapman.

The wooded area behind homeowner Kim Waldrop property is the focus of Chapman’s trapping expedition. The property is sandwiched between a school and a residential neighborhood and Waldrop says it isn’t uncommon to see a coyote roaming the area. “Just three or four nights ago we saw them cut across the back area in front of our storage area and into that wooded lot right there. They just trotted right around like obviously this is his home as much as it is ours, but it’s just not.

State of Georgia also recognizes the problem and say the Coyote Challenge is an effort to control the coyote population. As part of the effort citizens throughout the state can trap and kill coyotes, then send a picture of their kill to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to be entered into the drawings that will take place every two months between March and August. Champion, has already submitted a coyote to the competition and he’s hoping his latest trapping efforts will add to his submissions.

“We use live catch foot restrains which hold the animals in place, the best way to describe it is think of it as handcuffs for a coyote, it hold them until we can come remove them, it’s the safest for the animal and it’s the most humane way to handle them,” added Champion.

But not everyone is in support of the effort, “The Georgia Coyote Challenge is something that our organization has been very outspoken against, we do not agree with” said Dr. Chris Mowry a biologist from Berry College.

Mowry is also the Founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project and he says we need to find a way to co-exist with the coyotes because killing them will only have an adverse effect. “Killing coyotes often times leads to unintended consequences and that is more coyotes. It may knock the population down for a little while but what happens, is you will free up individuals to breed who weren’t breeding before.”

Mowry says as the new coyotes breed their population will soar. In addition, he adds coyotes are helping to balance the ecosystem by controlling the rodent population. But, beyond that Mowry says the process is just inhumane. He also pointed out the timing of the challenge coincides with breading season, he says in many cases parent coyotes are killed and their cubs are left to roam the area in search of food, a process that once again increases the possibility of human contact. But, for Waldrop who hire Chapman to remove the coyotes because her family is already having negative interactions with the animals and she says something has to be done. “I’m very nervous because they are just so active and all over the place .

Sentiments Chapman echoed, “There are way too many coyotes out there right now the population has just sky rocketed and when I’m pulling 10 or 15 out of a small subdivision we know we have a problem.

As of Tuesday only 17 coyote entries had been turned into the challenge.

Critics of coyote hunting contest plan protest

Coyotes are back in the news following the promotion of a controversial hunting contest by Powderhorn Outfitters, a gun shop in Hyannis.

Profiled last week in the Cape’s daily newspaper after it caused a stir on social media, the contest offers prizes for the largest coyote killed and for the cumulative weight of each hunter’s harvest through the hunting season, which ends on March 12.

The contest, which is promoted on the store’s Facebook page but not on its website, quickly drew the ire of wildlife advocates such as Eastham’s Louise Kane.

Kane was featured in a report in The Cape Codder last year, when she started a petition to ban carnivore hunting in the Cape Cod National Seashore; as of this week, it had 6,630 supporters.

On Jan. 28 she posted this comment on Powderhorn’s Facebook page: “Please friends that love animals go to Powderhorn Outfitters facebook page and give them a one star rating and object to the coyote killing contest. Please take a moment for Cape Cod coyotes.”

The same day Dr. Jonathan Way, founder of Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research, and author of “Suburban Howls: Tracking the Eastern Coyote in Urban Massachusetts,” also had harsh words for the contest, writing in his blog: “Here is the first coyote hunting contest that I am aware of in MA, and here on Cape Cod, MA. This is outrageous. Spread the word about who really gets to ‘manage’ our wildlife. Of course, MA Wildlife and local town laws do nothing to prevent this ‘tragedy of the commons.’” With it came a link to Powderhorn’s facebook page.

Way and Kane are planning an information and protest event this Saturday in Hyannis. (See details below.)

Hunters, or supporters of hunters, had their say on the gun shop’s Facebook page, too. Several decried the “one-star rating” tactic as unfair and some had choice words for “the anti-hunting leftists.”

On the Cape, Way is a leading expert for all things coyote (see In a local magazine article two years back, he estimated there were between 200 and 250 coyotes – or coywolves, as he identifies them as a species – living on the Cape.

He puts the coywolf DNA profile at roughly 60 percent western coyote, 30 percent wolf and 10 percent dog.

The population, by his account and others, remains mostly stable from year to year, and is found in all areas of the Cape, indeed across the Commonwealth.

Dave Wattles, a biologist with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, said the Commonwealth is “pretty well saturated with coyotes.”

“They started to colonize [here] in the 1950s, and we’re now seeing the far end of that colonization. We now have coyotes in every mainland town in the state, and in relatively high densities. All available habitat is occupied by coyotes.”

Contrary to the popular image of the lone coyote howling at the moon on the open range, coyotes live in small family packs and have become established in urban and residential communities where they have access to even a small wooded area.

While coyote attacks on people are rare, they can prey on pet cats and small dogs.

“Coyotes will see small pets as potential prey items,” noted Wattles.

Gerry Tuoti contributed to this report.

Dr. Way’s advice: Ten do’s and don’ts

Regardless of whether you approve of a coyote hunting contest, the animals are widespread across the Cape and are frequently heard and sometimes seen in all of the towns. Here are some guidelines, provided by Dr. Jonathan Way’s web site (, to bear in mind when dealing with the region’s coyotes:

1. Do chase them away and make noise (bang pots and pans) if you don’t want them in your yard. Of course, if you don’t mind them then watch them from a window quietly as to not scare them away.

2. Do make noise when you are outside especially if coyotes are often in your area. They will often change their course of direction when they hear people. Bring a whistle or horn to scare them away from you.

3. Do not feed coyotes or other animals. Even if you are feeding birds or other animals coyotes will be attracted to your yard just like any other animal looking for an easy handout.

4. Do not feed your pets outside for the same reason as above.

5. Absolutely do not let your cat outside if you are truly concerned with its health. Coyotes are just one of many mortality factors for outdoor cats.

6. Do leash your dogs. Although coyotes may follow a leashed dog out of curiosity (to the concern of the person), it is extremely rare for them to actually get within contact of your pet.

7. Do not let dogs (especially small breeds) outdoors loose without constant supervision. Fences should be at least 5 feet tall and there should not be any places where coyotes can crawl underneath. While a fence does not guarantee total protection, it is a good deterrent to coyotes or humans who would snatch or harm pets left outside alone.

8. Do not leave dogs tied outdoors unsupervised in coyote-prevalent areas.

9. Do not leave dogs and cats outside for any period of time unsupervised, especially at night, even in a fenced enclosure.

10. Do enjoy their presence and the fact that having this wily predator adds to the mystique of your neighborhood.

Learn more

What: A talk by Dr. Jonathan Way When: Saturday, Feb. 10, noon to 1:30 p.m. Where: Hyannis Public Library, 401 Main Street Followed by: A protest of the coyote hunting contest by Powderhorn Outfitters (2 to 4 p.m.), at 210 Barnstable Road, Hyannis. RSVP:

Be of Good Cheer (Revisted)

I get the feeling some people won’t be satisfied until I’ve plumbed the deepest, darkest depths of hunter/trapper depravity. I’ve had people ask me to write blog posts on issues as nauseating to cover as Wyoming’s new bounty on coyotes, and the glib manner in which some Wyomingites brag about cutting off coyotes ears in the parking lot of the “Sportsmen’s” Warehouse to claim their $20.00 bounty (following the same ugly tradition of  their forbearers who claimed cash at the fort for Indian scalps); incidents as horrible as the black bear (pictured here) who got caught in a 217855_388677001217027_1495584697_ntrap that some sick, twisted asshole set for pine marten; or report on how poachers are killing off the last of the world’s big cats; or go into how vacuous bowhunters sound when they praise one another for impaling animals for sport, or the malevolent tone used by wolf hunters or trappers when they get away with murdering beings far superior to them in every way.

The problem is, whenever I go there I get so irate I could end up saying something like, “They should all be lined up and shot, their bodies stacked like cordwood and set ablaze to rid the world of every last speck of their psychopathic evil once and for all.”

Well I’m not going to do that…at least not during the holiday season…

December should be a time for being of good cheer and spreading hopeful news…(I’ll let you know if I hear any…)


File photo.
File photo. Columbus

DECEMBER 21, 2017 02:05 PM

Coyotes howl to chat with their neighbors

December 19, 2017 Updated: December 19, 2017

A coyote. Photo: Christopher Gallello

A coyote.

Coyotes are more than an icon of the American West. They are probably your neighbors.

More and more people are routinely hearing coyotes yip, bark and howl in their backyards or in other urban and suburban settings. In fact, Canis latrans, the scientific name for coyotes, means “barking dog.”

When you watch coyotes throw their heads back and sing to their heart’s content, they seem to enjoy it. That was Marc’s impression when he and his students studied wild coyotes in the Grand Teton National Park for more than eight years. It’s fun, it feels good, so why not howl?

But what are they saying?

Researchers have identified around a dozen or so coyote vocalizations. Some coyote sounds are used to defend their territory and dens and to tell other coyotes they’re around, but some vocalizations give away much more information.

There’s little evidence that vocalizations are used to coordinate pack hunting. Some research shows the alpha, or high-ranking, males and females and pairs do most of the vocalizing.

Based on extensive and detailed research that involved recording and playing back howls and yips and observing the behavior of captive and free-ranging coyotes, wildlife researcher Philip Lehner 40 years ago placed coyote sounds into three general categories:

Greeting: Sounds include low-frequency whining, wow-oo-wowing (often called a greeting song), and group yip-howling (when reuniting and greeting).

Agonistic: These are vocalizations used during aggressive interactions and when coyotes display submission. They include woofing, growling, huffing (high-intensity threat), barking, bark-howling, yelping (submission and startle), and high-frequency whining (usually given by a subordinate coyote).

Contact: Sounds include lone howling (one of the most common vocalizations), group howling (when reuniting or in response to lone or group howls or yip howls), and group yip-howling (which may announce territory occupancy and may help regulate density of population).

Howling sounds can travel around 1,000 yards and can be used by coyotes to identify who’s calling, their gender and perhaps their mood. Transient coyotes don’t usually vocalize as much as resident animals in order to avoid interactions. Lone howls can also announce the location of an individual separated from their group.

One interesting and useful discovery is that humans aren’t very good at estimating how many coyotes are around by listening to their howls. Indeed, they usually overestimate the number of individuals actually present. So the melodious cacophony and symphony of sounds shouldn’t be used to claim that numerous coyotes are all over the place.

The more we understand all aspects of coyote behavior, the easier it will be to peacefully coexist with them. We should use what we know to protect them. State and local policies should embrace our understanding of coyote behavior.

We’re fortunate to share our homes with coyotes and other animals, and it’s important that we come to appreciate and understand the fascinating animals with whom we share our magnificent planet.

Marc Bekoff is professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and the author of the forthcoming “Canine Confidential: Why Dogs Do What They Do” (University of Chicago Press). Camilla Fox is founder and executive director of Project Coyote, a nonprofit organization that promotes compassionate conservation and coexistence of people and wildlife. Bekoff serves on the Project Coyote Science Advisory Board.

Coyotes and bobcats provide hunting “opportunities”

[It’d sound like a joke, if it weren’t so sickening.]

By Keith Sutton

This article was published October 29, 2017 at 12:00 a.m.

Jim Spencer of Calico Rock is shown with a bobcat he killed in Saline County. Hunting these big cats can be a very challenging endeavor.

Jim Spencer of Calico Rock is shown with a bobcat he killed in Saline County. Hunting these big cats can be a very challenging endeavor.

 Among the many game animals available to Arkansas hunters, few are more challenging and exciting to pursue as our big predators, the coyote and bobcat. Seasons for both are open now through the end of February, with a daily limit of two for bobcats and no bag limit on coyotes.

Both species are extremely cautious and have keen senses, facts that make them difficult to hunt successfully. But coyotes and bobcats have a weakness hunters can exploit. When they hear the sounds of an injured rabbit, they often throw caution to the wind and charge in for what they think will be an easy meal.

Whenever a predator catches a rabbit, the normally silent cottontail shrieks in fear and pain. It will do the same if it happens to get caught in a trap, a fence, by a snake or when it is accidentally injured. Coyotes and bobcats know this sound, and a hunter who imitates the rabbit’s pitiful squealing using a predator call can bring his quarry near enough for a killing shot.

Rodents such as mice are also diet staples for predators, so modern call makers have produced short-range rodent-squeak calls, too. However, because a dying rabbit sound is loud, carries very well over a long range and is so well recognized by predators, this is the sound most used. It is effective everywhere.

Many hunters learn to use handheld, mouth-blown calls, which are inexpensive and easy to learn how to use. Others choose electronic predator callers, which play dying rabbit sounds. Both are effective.

To begin your hunt, position yourself strategically in an area known to contain predators. You should sit (not stand) so that you can see well over a broad expanse, but never on the skyline where you are easily spotted. Sit against something, not behind it.

Wear camouflage clothing (jacket, pants, hat, head and face net, gloves), and break up your outline by blending in with a tree, bush or rocky outcropping. Walk to the calling area quietly, and try to follow a direct route so you don’t wander around the area in which you intend to call and frighten your quarry.

The best times of day are around dawn and early-morning hours, and in the late afternoon up until dark. All predators also move and hunt at night. However, in Arkansas, coyotes may only be hunted during daylight hours, and dogs are required to hunt bobcats at night.

Calling is best when there is little or no wind, which is one reason to recommend the first light of day, normally a period of calm. If there is any significant air current, the call carries farthest in the direction, downwind, where you don’t want it to go. Any predator coming into the wind is going to whiff your scent. Commercial cover scents are helpful in masking human odor and should be used, but don’t expect them to be infallible. Your best insurance is to have the prevailing wind at the back of your quarry rather than yours, blowing your scent away from the animal’s keen nose.

If you will hunt on cool, overcast days or during winter months, animals are more likely to be foraging for food, and responses may be had all day long. Predator calling when snow is on the ground and wind is severe is extremely effective. This is a difficult time for the animals to find food, and their caution sometimes diminishes in direct proportion.

The firearm you choose for this kind of hunting depends mostly on your individual preference. Arkansas regulations permit bobcats and coyotes to be taken with archery equipment, firearms of any caliber or shotguns using any size shot. Because most hunters hope to sell the pelts of the animals they kill, however, they opt to hunt with rifles in the .22 class. Choices range from the .22 Hornet and .221 Fireball to the .222, .222 magnum, .223 and the .22-250, all proven fur takers. Single-shot hunting handguns are also chambered in most of these calibers and add a more challenging dimension to the sport.

When you begin calling, don’t let your enthusiasm destroy the reality of the drama you are attempting to create. Calling too loud and too long are no-nos. Call just enough to get the animal’s attention.

When a rabbit is first hurt, it can make a lot of loud noise. But as it tires, its squalling decreases in volume and frequency. Duplicate that sequence. Use a loud volume at first but not very long. From then on, use intervals of low volume, as this makes the animal less wary and more intrigued. Gradually taper your calling in length and intensity.

If you don’t get action within an hour, you should move. If a coyote is nearby, it will generally show in a hurry, within 15 minutes or less. A bobcat is more furtive. Sometimes it takes half an hour or more for one, sneaking and slinking, to make an appearance.

When a predator approaches within sight, remember that this is now a swap-out, because you, the caller, are also vulnerable, and when the animal comes close, many things can go wrong, and something usually does. In most confrontations, the predator emerges as winner.

When you spot an animal approaching, quit calling immediately. Remain motionless and silent until you’re ready to shoot. If the animal starts to move away from you, a short call probably will put him back on course, but time such calls to coincide with the moments when your target can’t see you.

If you’re spotted, be ready to react at once. You can’t shoot a coyote with a varmint call, so keep your gun in a ready position. If you have a hunting partner, all the better. Have him ready while you’re calling. When frightened, a coyote or bobcat moves out a whole lot faster than he moved in.

Predator calling know-how, at least on paper, sounds simple enough. But once in the field, application doesn’t seem so easy. The caller finds himself nagged by self-doubts. Is he calling in the proper way? In the right place? Can he really make it work?

This is the learning process every caller must go through. Experience leads to confidence, and self-confidence is the trail to success.

You can expect the unexpected from predator hunting. It offers its own brand of thrills and is a sport that challenges the outdoor savvy of the most skilled hunters. It teaches patience, tolerance and humility. And it is the only trip afield where the hunter deliberately becomes the hunted.

No, it isn’t easy. But predator hunting is fascinating, challenging and suspenseful. And once you call up a wildcat or a yodel dog, there’s no cure except to go calling every chance you get.

Advocates say hunting coyotes is cruel – and doesn’t control the population

  • An ambassador Eastern coyote checks out its surroundings during a “creatures of the night” presentation at New Hampshire Audubon in Concord on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) ELIZABETH FRANTZ » Buy this Image

Monitor staff

Sunday, September 24, 2017

In the past four decades, coyotes have moved into New Hampshire from the west, becoming a routine part of the landscape, and now some advocates think we shouldn’t be hunting them quite as much.

Linda Dionne, who openly speaks against hunting and trapping as part of a Manchester group called Voices for Wildlife, has petitioned the New Hampshire Fish and Game commissioners to change the rules, closing the coyote season from March 31 to Sept. 1, when pups are being raised.

The group argues that allowing hunting while young coyotes are being raised is cruel and increases the chances that a litter could be left to starve. They also say the coyote’s relentless expansion throughout North America has shown that hunting doesn’t work to control a species that is traditionally seen as a nuisance.

Their request was denied in a letter from Fish and Game Executive Director Glenn Normandeau.

“New Hampshire’s existing firearms season provides landowners and farmers with maximum flexibility in dealing with possible conflicts associated with coyotes,” Normandeau wrote, giving one of five reasons he listed for not opening the rule-making process. “The protection and promotion of agricultural interests and the protection of individual property rights have often been noted by the legislature to be priority interests of the state.”

Coyotes can be hunted during the daytime all year round in New Hampshire, as is the case in most neighboring states, and hunted at night from January through March. Trapping season is limited to winter.

The Voices of Wildlife group said it would continue to raise the issue.

“The firearm’s season is for recreational hunting. Having a closed recreational hunting season would not impact the resolution of possible conflicts associated with coyotes. Nothing would change regarding property owners being allowed to use lethal measures to handle an individual conflict,” the group wrote in response to Normandeau.

“The coyote is here to stay and that is a well-known fact. As one good conservationist in New Hampshire put it, ‘We have been at war with the coyote for about a hundred years now, and the coyote won.’ What we are arguing is that it is cruel to kill coyote parents when they are rearing their young, and that it is unnecessary.”

Coyotes are, in some ways, a great success story for wildlife rehabilitation, returning an alpha predator to many ecosystems. Yet it is a success that has occurred entirely in the face of human opposition.

Coyotes are members of the canine family, along with dogs, foxes and wolves, and are not native to New England. They originated in the Rocky Mountain region of the U.S., but have been expanding throughout North America for at least a century, filling an ecological niche left by the elimination of wolves, cougars and other large predators.

The first verified account of a coyote in New Hampshire was in Grafton County in 1944, according to state records, but they only began to spread throughout the state in the 1970s and are now widespread. About 5,000 are thought to live in New Hampshire.

The coyote population can expand relatively quickly because females are willing to travel long distances from where they were born before making dens and having pups, unlike the females of many other carnivore species. This allows a breeding population to get established quickly in new territory.

More importantly, they are generalists that will eat almost anything and can adapt to life in many circumstances, from the deep woods to suburbia to the most urban of areas. Coyotes are now found all along the East Coast from Maine to Florida, even on islands like Nantucket and deep in cities like Boston and New York.

Although details are still being studied, it appears that during their eastward expansion the western coyote interbred with some domesticated dogs and with red wolves, which are larger than coyotes but smaller than gray wolves. As a result, the eastern coyote is larger and distinct from the western coyote, to the point that they are sometimes considered a distinct breed.

Most states allow coyotes to be hunted all year round. Massachusetts allows coyote hunting from October to March, while Vermont and Maine allow it all year round. All states have limits on night hunting and on trapping, if the latter is allowed at all.

Out West, where the coyote’s reputation as a livestock killer persists, many states even allow coyote-hunting contests, which award prizes for the most kills in a short period.

Some biologists argue that, counterintuitively, extensive hunting is one reason that coyotes have spread so quickly throughout North America.

Chris Schadler, a conservation biologist, wildlife advocate and author of a book about coyotes called Becoming Wolf: The Eastern Coyote in New England, argued before the Fish and Game commission that year-round hunting actually increases the number of coyotes.

As she explained it, coyotes are pack animals, living in small groups that are dominated by a matriarch, usually the oldest female, who is the only female that has pups.

These packs can undergo a process known as “responsive reproduction,” in which the number of young produced increases when the pack is pressured. This is particularly true if the matriarch is killed, which indirectly gives all the other females in the pack permission to have their own litters – meaning that a successful hunt might result in a larger pack next year.

The issue of coyote hunting came up at the last legislative session, when a bill was debated that would have extended the nighttime hunting of the animals, beyond the current January-through-March limit. The measure died in committee.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

Lawsuit Challenges California’s Mismanagement of Commercial Trapping Program

September 13, 2017


Jean Su, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 770-3187,
Camilla Fox, Project Coyote, (415) 690-0338,

Lawsuit Challenges California’s Mismanagement of Wildlife Trapping Program

Public Agencies Illegally Subsidize Private Profiteering Off
Fox, Coyote, Badger Pelts

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— The Center for Biological Diversity and Project Coyote sued the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife today for improperly managing and illegally subsidizing the state’s commercial trapping program.

Thousands of coyotes, foxes, badgers and other fur-bearing animals are trapped each year in California so their pelts can be sold overseas. Today’s lawsuit notes that the two state agencies have illegally diverted as much as half a million dollars since 2013 to subsidize commercial fur trapping in California.

“Commercial trapping is a cruel, destructive practice that shouldn’t be subsidized by California taxpayers,” said attorney Jean Su, the Center’s associate conservation director. “It’s wrong that a handful of trappers slaughter our wildlife for private profit while the state foots the bill. These animals are far more valuable as essential species in California’s web of life than as skinned pelts shipped to Russia and China.”

In 2015, conservationists celebrated the Fish and Game Commission’s decision to ban the commercial trapping of bobcats, whose pelts are some of the most lucrative on the international fur market. But more than a dozen other furbearing animals still experience cruel trapping under the state’s mismanaged trapping program.

California law requires that the states’s costs of managing a commercial trapping program must be fully recovered through trapping license fees. The state spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on wardens, biologists and administrators to oversee and enforce trapping regulations, yet license fees cover only a tiny fraction of the program’s total costs. Taxpayers foot the bill for the shortfall.

Since the fee-recovery mandate became effective in2013, the commission and the fish and wildlife department have illegally diverted upwards of half a million dollars to subsidize commercial fur trapping in California.

“The illegal subsidization of the state’s commercial trapping program violates not just the letter of the law, but the will of the California people,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote. “An overwhelming majority of Californians do not support commercial trapping.”

In the 2015-2016 license year, approximately 200 trappers purchased commercial licenses. Of those, 50 reported killing the nearly 2,000 animals trapped for fur that year, according to a department report. To ensure undamaged pelts, trappers often kill animals through strangulation, gassing and anal electrocution.

If the illegal subsidy of trapping licenses is eliminated, trapping license fees would have to be set at a level that few if any trappers would likely be willing to pay, resulting in a de facto end to commercial fur trapping in California.

“It’s shocking that California still permits the inhumane slaughter of our wildlife for fur,” Su said. “It’s time the state is held accountable for its poor management of a program that benefits only a few.”

Today’s lawsuit targets the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife for failing to raise license fees to the levels adequate to recoup the entire commercial trapping program’s costs, as mandated under law. If the illegal subsidy of trapping licenses is eliminated, trapping license fees would have to be set at a level that few, if any, trappers would likely be willing to pay, resulting in a de facto end to commercial fur trapping in California.

Recognizing the ecological importance of carnivores, the Center and Project Coyote use science-based advocacy to defend these magnificent animals from persecution, exploitation and extinction. Find out more about the Center’s Carnivore Conservation campaign here and aboutProject Coyote’s Predator Protection Programs here.