Why killing coyotes doesn’t make livestock safer

https://theconversation.com/why-killing-coyotes-doesnt-make-livestock-safer-75684

Few Americans probably know that their tax dollars paid to kill 76,859 coyotes in 2016. The responsible agency was Wildlife Services (WS), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Its mission is to “resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.” This broad mandate includes everything from reducing bird strikes at airports to curbing the spread of rabies.

Controlling predators that attack livestock is one of the agency’s more controversial tasks. WS uses nonlethal techniques, such as livestock guard dogs and fladry – hanging strips of cloth from fences, where they flutter and deter predators. But every year it also kills tens of thousands of predators, including bears, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, hawks, cougars and wolves.

However, there is no clear evidence that lethal control works to reduce human-predator conflict. In fact, it can even make the problem worse. At the same time, research shows that predators play key roles in maintaining healthy ecosystems. As a conservation biologist specializing in human-wildlife conflicts, I see growing evidence that it is time to reconsider lethal control.

Warfare on the range

Coyotes have been a target ever since European explorers first arrived in their territory centuries ago. Nonetheless, their range has expanded from the western plains across most of the continent.

The most common reason for killing coyotes is to reduce predation of livestock, such as sheep and calves. In a 2015 USDA report on sheep losses, ranchers reported how many of their animals died in 2014 and how they died. Twenty-eight percent of adult sheep losses and 36 percent of lamb losses were attributed to predators. Of those animals, ranchers stated that 33,510 adult sheep (more than half of total predation losses) and 84,519 lambs (nearly two-thirds of all predation losses) were killed by coyotes.

Domestic sheep killed by a coyote in California. CDFW/Flickr, CC BY

According to the American Sheep Industry Association, about UD$20.5 million of ranchers’ losses in 2014 (roughly one-fifth of their total losses) were attributed to coyotes. Importantly, however, these numbers were based on self-reported data and were not verified by wildlife professionals. External review would be useful because even experienced ranchers may have trouble determining in some cases whether a sheep was killed by a coyote or a dog (dogs are second only to coyotes in reported predation on livestock), or died from other causes and later was scavenged by coyotes.

To keep coyotes in check, WS employees set neck snares and other traps, shoot coyotes on the ground and from planes and helicopters, arm sheep with collars containing liquid poison and distribute M-44 “bombs” that inject sodium cyanide into the mouths of animals that chew on them.

As in warfare, there is collateral damage. M-44s killed more than 1,100 domestic dogs between 2000 and 2012. Scientists have also criticized WS for unintentionally killing numerous animals and birds, including federally protected golden and bald eagles, while failing to do any studies of how its actions affected nontarget species. Early this year the American Society of Mammalogists called for more scientific scrutiny of the policy of killing large predators.

How effective is lethal control?

It is understandable for struggling ranchers to blame coyotes for economic losses, since kills leave tangible signs and killing predators seems like a logical solution. However, a widely cited 2006 study called coyotes scapegoats for factors that were more directly related to the decline of sheep ranching in the United States.

The author, Dr. Kim Murray Berger, who was then a research biologist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, built and tested a series of statistical models to explain the declining number of sheep being bred in the United States. She found that variables including the price of hay, wage rates and the price of lamb explained most of the decline, and that the amount of money spent on predator control had little effect.

Other research indicates that even if predation is one factor in ranchers’ economic losses, lethal control is not the best way to reduce it.

Warning in area baited with cyanide traps, Sandoval, New Mexico (click to zoom).Killbox/Flickr, CC BY-NC

One 2016 analysis reviewed studies that compared lethal and nonlethal strategies for controlling livestock predation. Lethal methods ranged from civilian hunts to government culls. Nonlethal methods included fladry, guard animals, chemical repellents and livestock protection collars. The review found that nonlethal methods generally reduced livestock predation more effectively, and that predation actually temporarily increased after use of some lethal methods.

Why would predation increase after predators are killed? When pack animals such as coyotes, dingoes and wolves are killed, the social structure of their packs breaks down. Female coyotes become more likely to breed and their pups are more likely to survive, so their numbers may actually increase. Packs generally protect territories, so breaking up a pack allows new animals to come in, raising the population. In addition, some new arrivals may opportunistically prey on livestock, which can increase predation rates.

These findings extend beyond the United States. A three-year study in South Africa found that using nonlethal methods to protect livestock from jackals, caracals and leopards cost ranchers less than lethal methods, both because less predation occurred and because the nonlethal methods cost less.

In Australia dingoes occupy a similar ecological niche to coyotes and are similarly targeted. In a recent case study at a cattle station, researchers found that ceasing all lethal and nonlethal predator control reduced predation of cattle by dingoes as the social structure of the resident dingoes stabilized.

Even research by USDA supports this pattern. In a recent study, researchers from several universities, USDA’s National Wildlife Research Center and the nonprofit advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife analyzed wolf predation rates for sheep producers on public grazing lands in Idaho. Predation was 3.5 times higher in zones where lethal control was used than in adjacent areas where nonlethal methods were used.

A USDA biologist installs fladry to deter predators on a ranch near Jackson, Wyoming. Pamela Manns, USAD/Flickr

A high-stakes placebo

Overuse of subsidized predator control is comparable to primary care doctors overprescribing antibiotics to human patients. Patients often demand antibiotics for common colds, although doctors understand that these infections are caused mainly by viruses, so antibiotics will be ineffective. But receiving a prescription makes patients feel that their concerns are being addressed. Lethal control is a high-stakes placebo for the problems that ail ranchers, and misusing it can increase problems for ranchers and the ecosystems around them.

Human-wildlife conflict is a complex issue. Often, as some colleagues and I showed in our recent book, “Human-Wildlife Conflict,” the real problem is confrontations between humans about how to deal with wildlife.

This means that we need to choose prevention and mitigation methods carefully. If cultural values and prevailing community attitudes are not taken into account, attempts to change ranching practices could increase hostility toward predators and make it harder for conservation groups to work with ranchers.

Federal employees at Wildlife Services are under tremendous pressure from the agricultural industry. And farmers and ranchers often act based on deeply rooted traditions and cultural attitudes. It rests with wildlife professionals to use current and well-grounded science to address human concerns without harming the environment.

The ugly sides of coyote hunting

Another View — Christine Schadler: The ugly sides of coyote hunting

The recent article in the Union Leader about coyote baiting lifts the curtain on the world of coyote killing. In this recreational activity, a hunter can leave bait such as the dead pigs and chickens mentioned. Coyotes scavenge whatever they can, and unwittingly become target practice for the waiting shooter.

There is no hunt involved, no fair chase and no biological justification for this — just killing a useful predator, sorely needed to control rodent and deer populations. Why is this allowed? Ask the wildlife managers at New Hampshire Fish and Game and you will learn that since the coyotes will quickly replace any members removed, they are infinitely replaceable and therefore are in no danger of becoming extinct.

This is hardly justification.

Resilience characterizes the coyote, a trait for which it should be admired. Instead, it is the trait that causes coyotes so much trouble. The coyote is the predator we cannot control. Decades of extermination effort has yielded only hundreds of thousands more coyotes and a remarkable expansion in their range. Biologists understand the power of unleashing this responsive reproduction characteristic but at Fish and Game agencies, unlimited killing of coyotes is tolerated to appease the hunters who wish to kill for the sake of killing.

Ask one of these hunters why they kill coyotes and they will quickly respond, as did Mr. Toomey, the baiter, that coyotes have no predators and would get out of control if they weren’t constantly taken.

Of course, in nature, everything has predators and in the case of coyotes, it is disease. Mange, distemper, rabies, Parvo virus, tularemia, canine hepatitis and even porcupines all take their toll on coyotes. Meanwhile coyotes, a major predator of rodents (which make up 62 percent of their diet,) help to control the spread of Lyme disease.

As New Hampshire Fish and Game turns a blind eye to the reality of coyote killing, as discovered by the young man in Plaistow, they allow cruelty to pups, orphaned when their parents are killed, to a slow death by starvation. Yes, coyotes can be killed during their breeding and denning season, day and night in this state. Ask a wildlife manager at Fish and Game about this and you will be told that there aren’t that many taken to really make a dent in the population, but this is not the point.

First, no one is keeping track of the numbers of coyotes killed by hunting, baiting and denning (killing pups while in their den), and hunters are not required to report what they have killed. Secondly, the ethics of killing coyotes 365 days a year and at night from January through March are not part of the management decision-making.

The eastern coyote, like predators in general, regulates its own population naturally in several ways. When pack structure, crucial to self-regulation, is impacted by hunting, the young breed. Normally two thirds of all females never breed due to brief estrus cycles (just one week per year.) Also, vigilant parents do not tolerate their young breeding on their territory. Only the breeding pair breeds, period.

As long as no one asks too many questions, irresponsible hunters will continue to kill, kill, kill coyotes. Now that New Hampshire Fish and Game needs $1.5 million from the General Fund, our voice must be heard in defense of wildlife. The hunter, giving fair chase, holding ethical standards and using that animal for food, has every right to continue.

Christine Schadler is the Vermont and New Hampshire representative for Project Coyote.

Coalition of Scientists Condemn “Georgia Coyote Challenge” State Sanctioned Coyote Slaughter Commenced March 1

ATLANTA, Georgia – In a letter to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), eighteen scientists with Project Coyote condemned the state agency-sanctioned “Georgia Coyote Challenge,” stating, “This purported management tool is nothing more than a wildlife killing contest (WKC), tempting participants to kill coyotes for a chance to win a lifetime hunting license.”

The Georgia Coyote Challenge (GCC) started yesterday, and has already come under intense public criticism and scientific scrutiny. Project Coyote’s letter, written by some of the most preeminent wild canid ecologists in the country, states, “The Georgia DNR argues that the Georgia Coyote Challenge is important for achieving management objectives for other species, especially game species. There is no credible evidence that indiscriminate killing of coyotes or other predators effectively serves any genuine interest in managing other species.”

“For a state agency whose mission is to ‘sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources’ to sponsor such a program is reprehensible,” states Dr. Chris Mowry, Project Coyote Science Advisory Board member, founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project, and co-author of the letter. He adds, “The Georgia Coyote Challenge is both inhumane and unwise.”

Project Coyote scientists also point to the DNR’s contradictory position on organized coyote killing programs, citing the Georgia Deer Management Plan (2015-2024), which was prepared by the DNR and states: “Coyote bounties [are] viewed as an ineffective tool. … [Wildlife Resources Division] and [the Georgia State] General Assembly oppose coyote bounty programs.”

“Project Coyote’s science advisory board has exposed the DNR in a shameful contradiction,” stated Camilla Fox, Project Coyote Founder and Executive Director. “The DNR’s own research clearly shows that indiscriminate coyote killing is ‘ineffective’ and yet here they are promoting a statewide incentivized coyote kill fest that has no legitimate wildlife management purpose whatsoever.”

“We are also very concerned about the public safety threat the Georgia Coyote Challenge poses to people and pets,” Mowry stated. “Encouraging thousands of Georgians to shoot as many coyotes as they can—sometimes right outside of city limits—is a recipe for disaster.”

“Aside from the ecological insanity and public safety concerns of the Georgia Coyote Challenge, it is ethically indefensible,” stated Fox. “Coyote pups born this spring will be orphaned and left to die a slow and painful death when their parents are shot. This kill fest should be halted immediately.”

Project Coyote led a successful effort to end the killing of coyotes, bobcats, foxes and other animals for prizes and other inducements in California in 2014. The non-profit organization is part of a coalition in New Mexico currently pushing legislation through the state legislature that would ban coyote killing contests statewide.

READ PROJECT COYOTE’S LETTER TO THE DNR here.

WATCH PROJECT COYOTE’S FILM TRAILER “Unfair Game: Ending Wildlife Killing Contests” here

WATCH a video about coyotes in Georgia with Project Coyote Science Advisory Board member Chris Mowry here.

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Project Coyote is a national non-profit organization, comprised of a coalition of scientists, educators, ranchers and citizen leaders promoting compassionate conservation and coexistence between people and wildlife through education, science and advocacy. We work to change laws and policies to protect native carnivores from abuse and mismanagement, advocating coexistence instead of killing. We seek to change negative attitudes toward coyotes, wolves and other misunderstood predators by replacing ignorance and fear with understanding, respect and appreciation.


Copyright © 2017 Project Coyote, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
P.O. Box 5007, Larkspur, CA 94977

The Latest: Panel OKs Measure to Ban Coyote-killing Contests

http://www.usnews.com/news/new-mexico/articles/2017-02-16/the-latest-panel-oks-measure-to-ban-coyote-killing-contests

Legislation aimed at banning coyote-hunting competitions in New Mexico has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

Feb. 16, 2017, at 1:04 p.m.

The Latest: Panel OKs Measure to Ban Coyote-killing Contests

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on wildlife bills pending in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

11 a.m.

Legislation aimed at banning coyote-hunting competitions in New Mexico has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The majority of the Senate Conservation Committee gave the bill a do-pass recommendation during a packed hearing Thursday. The measure must win approval from two more committees before reaching the Senate floor for a vote.

The bill sponsored by Democrat Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces would outlaw coyote-killing contests after a number of recent competitions drew anger from animal rights advocates. The bill would not prevent landowners from hunting the predators on their property.

Ranchers and outfitters from around the state argued that the contests can be a tool for managing packs of coyotes that threaten cattle and sheep.

Supporters of the legislation called the practice barbaric and questioned whether there were any scientific benefits.

___

10:31 a.m.

A Senate committee has tabled a proposal to significantly shift the mission of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish.

The legislation sponsored by Democrat Sen. Jeff Steinborn of Las Cruces would give the department the authority to manage all wildlife as a public resource rather than managing game animals and fish for recreation and food as currently provided under law.

The measure also would give the gubernatorial appointees of the Game Commission authority over all wildlife rather than just game species.

The department argues that the legislation would effectively add another 6,000 species to the list of animals it’s responsible for managing, costing millions of dollars more each year.

Game and Fish Director Alexa Sandoval called the measure an unfunded mandate, noting that the department’s work is funded by sportsmen through licenses and other fees.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

Coyote hunting ban would end under NC Senate bill, but some fear for endangered red wolves

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article132861439.html

Workshop offers insight into hunting coyotes and other predators

“You’re hunting the animal that normally does the hunting,” Andrew Kenner of Jackson, Missouri, said. “They’re the top of the food chain for a reason.”

Kenner, who belongs to a Facebook group for predator hunters in Missouri, said coyotes can remember individual calls. If they see the hunter before he can shoot, Kenner said, coyotes will never respond to that call again.

“Whenever you see them, that’s about the only chance you will have,” Kenner said, “because after that, they will learn exactly what’s going on.”

Different techniques for calling coyotes, foxes and bobcats — from hand calls to electronic versions — will be one focus of a workshop from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The workshop will also go over the limits and regulations for hunting coyotes and other predators. Camouflage and scent control will also be discussed.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is hosting the workshop to teach people how to call coyotes and other predators, such as foxes and bobcats, at the Missouri Department’s regional office in Columbia.

The workshop is free and open to anyone 11 years or older. To reserve a seat, call outdoor skills specialist Brian Flowers at 815-7901 ext. 2867 before the workshop begins. Openings are subject to availability.

About 60 people attended last year’s predator hunting workshop, and a similar turnout is expected Wednesday.

Flowers said predator hunting isn’t an activity where someone can go out and be successful quickly. It requires dedicating time to learning the ins and outs.

“It’s not something that is easy,” Flowers said. “I think that’s why folks want to seek out information and knowledge about it.”

 Regulating the predator population through hunting has environmental benefits.

Flowers said problems that can arise from an uncontrolled predator population include the spread of disease among the predator population, the displacement of predators into urban areas because of overcrowding and the attack of farmers’ crops and livestock due to a shortage of food.

Missouri residents must possess a small game hunting permit to hunt coyotes, foxes and bobcats.

The Department of Conservation encourages hunters to make use of the hides of predators they kill.

Kenner skins the coyotes he kills, and then gives the fur to someone who will tan it, or he tans it himself.

“Before you go on a coyote hunt, you want to have everything lined up in terms of what you’re going to do with the coyote,” Kenner said. “That way you’re not just shooting an animal and letting it lay.”

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

Why coyotes and badgers hunt together

http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/blogs/coyote-and-badger-hunt-together

The two predators were recently photographed collaborating in Colorado, a fascinating example of interspecies teamwork.

November 25, 2016,
coyote and badger hunting together

A coyote and badger stalk prey together on the prairie surrounding the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center in northern Colorado. (Photo: Kimberly Fraser/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Competition and cooperation aren’t mutually exclusive. Just ask a coyote or a badger.

Both are crafty carnivores, and since they often hunt the same prey in the same prairies, it would make sense for them to be enemies, or at least to avoid each other. But while they don’t always get along, coyotes and badgers also have an ancient arrangement that illustrates why it can be smart for rivals to work together.

An example of that partnership recently unfolded on a prairie in northern Colorado, near the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. And it was captured in photos, both by a wildlife camera trap and by sharp-eyed photographers:

coyote and badger hunting togetherA field camera caught this amazing shot, which shows the coyote and badger trotting across the landscape with a prairie dog looking on in the foreground. (Photo: National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center/Facebook)

coyote and badger hunting togetherThe duo takes a break from pursuing prairie dogs. (Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS)

coyote and badger hunting together(Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS)

coyote and badger hunting togetherThe coyote and badger survey a black-tailed prairie dog colony near Wellington, Colorado. (Photo: Ryan Moehring/USFWS)

While it’s relatively rare to capture such good photos of a hunt like this, the phenomenon is well-documented. It was familiar to many Native Americans long before Europeans reached the continent, and scientists have studied it for decades. It has been reported across much of Canada, the United States and Mexico, according to Ecology Online, typically with one badger hunting alongside one coyote.

(In one study at the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming, 90 percent of all coyote-badger hunts featured one of each animal, while about 9 percent involved one badger with two coyotes. Just 1 percent saw a lone badger join a coyote trio.)

But why would these predators work together at all? When one of them finally catches something, they aren’t known to share the spoils. So what’s the point?

coyote and badger hunting togetherWorking together helps each species pursue prey more effectively. (Photo: Kimberly Fraser/USFWS)

The point, apparently, is to improve the likelihood that at least one of the hunters will snag some prey. Even if that means the other one ends up empty-handed, the partnership seems to pay off for both species in the long run.

Each member of the hunting party has a distinct set of skills. Coyotes are nimble and quick, so they excel at chasing prey across an open prairie. Badgers are slow and awkward runners by comparison, but they’re better diggers than coyotes are, having evolved to pursue small animals in underground burrow systems. So when they hunt prairie dogs or ground squirrels on their own, badgers usually dig them up, while coyotes chase and pounce. The rodents therefore use different strategies depending which predator is after them: They often escape a digging badger by leaving their burrows to flee aboveground, and evade coyotes by running to their burrows.

When badgers and coyotes work together, however, they combine these skills to hunt more effectively than either could alone. Coyotes chase prey on the surface, while badgers take the baton for subterranean pursuits. Only one may end up with a meal, but overall, research suggests the collaboration benefits both hunters.

“Coyotes with badgers consumed prey at higher rates and had an expanded habitat base and lower locomotion costs,” according to the authors of the National Elk Refuge study. “Badgers with coyotes spent more time below ground and active, and probably had decreased locomotion and excavation costs. Overall, prey vulnerability appeared to increase when both carnivores hunted in partnership.”

Badgers and coyotes aren’t always friendly, though. While the majority of their interactions “appear to be mutually beneficial or neutral,” Ecology Online notes they do sometimes prey on each other. The two species have developed “a sort of open relationship,” according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), since they tend to collaborate in warmer months, then often drift apart as winter sets in.

“In the winter, the badger can dig up hibernating prey as it sleeps in its burrow,” the FWS explains. “It has no need for the fleet-footed coyote.”

Not at the time, anyway. But winter eventually turns to spring, and these two hunters may start to need each other again. And just as they have for thousands of years, they’ll make peace, embrace their differences and get back to work.

News from Project Coyote

The news was shocking – a coyote in Los Angeles, gunned down by a sniper on a residential street. As reported on July 1st in the Los Angeles Times, the gunman shot the coyote in the city’s Silver Lake neighborhood, in what the Times called an act of “coyotecide.”

As Los Angeles’s Animal Cruelty Task Force looks into the shooting, and the Department of Animal Services investigates, Project Coyote is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect(s) responsible.
_______________________________

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Our reward offer is helping to generate news coverage about this act of barbarity, while exposing the stark reality that coyotes are the target of so much hatred and violence and have no protections as afforded their domestic cousins.

Had the killer shot a domestic dog, it would be considered a felony under state anti-cruelty laws. 

Ironically, just last week Project Coyote’s Southern California Representative, Randi Feilich testified before the Los Angeles City Animal Welfare Committee in support of a proposed non-lethal coyote management plan being considered by the Committee. The plan emphasizes public education and coexistence. At the meeting, Feilich offered the support of our Coyote Friendly Communities program, which provides tools and expertise to peacefully live with coyotes and other wildlife.

Since the shooting, media coverage has increased public awarness of the cruelty suffered by coyotes and other wildlife, as well as the threat this poses to human safety.

Please help us prevent such senseless acts and help us change laws so that coyotes are no longer treated as vermin that can be killed in unlimited numbers. 

With your support we can continue to equip communities across the country with the information, support and tools they need to live peacefully with wild animals who also call this planet home.

donate now

Howling Coyote Mom Killed in Seattle

 

A Seattle neighborhood is divided over a coyote pack that was recently killed.

According to USDA APHIS, someone asked for them to remove the coyotes. Other neighbors are horrified.

“It was howling. It was crying. It was moaning. It was horrible,” Nancy Bagnulo said.

Early Tuesday morning, several people woke up to gunshots near the Talaris conference center in Seattle’s Laurelhurst neighborhood.

Bozena Jakubik left her house to see what happened, noticing a white truck driving off. Daylight revealed more of what she’d heard overnight.

“I saw this huge stain of blood coming from the exit of her den,” she said.

According to USDA, three coyotes were killed.

“Wildlife services received a request to assist in the management of several coyotes near the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Seattle. The coyotes had become increasingly aggressive toward people and pets in the area,” Jeanine Neskey said.

The coyotes were killed on the Talaris conference center property. The center did not return phone calls asking for comment.

Neighbors said the coyote had pups, and by simply leaving her alone, they never had an issue.

“I’m bothered by the fact we weren’t given the notice or chance to weigh in on this decision,” Janice Sutter said.

According to USDA, someone requested their services. They worked for 3-nights, and used a call box, which is a device that mimics animal distress sounds and attracts coyotes.

“The thing that bothers me mostly is that they’re baiting them. I just don’t think that’s right,” Linn Blakeney said.

“I like the coyotes and it just makes me sick,” David Barnes added.

Wildlife officials believe there are no more coyotes left in this spot, but neighbors worry there may be a pup remaining.

“I’ve seen him running frantically out on the property and calling and crying and looking for his family,” Jakubik said.

Nancy Bagnulo and others say, they like living here because it’s a little bit of wild in the heart of a city, and that means learning to live together.

“If not, there’s not going to be any wildlife left. It’s just going to be people. And who wants that, really?” Bagnulo said.

Copyright 2016 KING

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: