The city of Maumelle, Arkansas, has reportedly decided to trap and kill coyotes with the misguided intent to control species numbers. A contractor hired by the city has reportedly set 10 steel-jaw and snare traps throughout the city, and victims will be killed. But lethal initiatives are 100 percent ineffective, as survivors simply breed in order to replace lost pack members while more coyotes move in from outlying areas for the available resources. And amazingly, news sources indicate that city officials are touting these traps as “humane”! However, animals caught in these traps (including the padded or rubber-coated variety) sustain horrific injuries in their frantic attempts to escape—even chewing or twisting off their own limbs. Killing also tears wild families apart, leaving orphaned young to starve, and traps endanger companion animals as well as protected wildlife. PETA has apprised Maumelle officials of the cruelty and futility of this plan and provided details regarding humane coyote control, but now it’s your turn.
Please contact the Maumelle mayor and city council and politely urge them to reverse this decision. Then forward this alert to everyone you know.
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Decision Likely Halts Program That Kills Coyotes,
Bobcats, Mountain Lions
Camilla Fox, Project Coyote, (415) 690-0338, firstname.lastname@example.org
Collette Adkins, Center for Biological Diversity, (651) 955-3821,email@example.com
Amey Owen, Animal Welfare Institute, (202) 446-2128,
Natalia Lima, Animal Legal Defense Fund, (201) 679-7088, firstname.lastname@example.org
SALINAS, Calif.— The California Superior Court has ruled that Monterey County’s contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services program to kill predators and other native wildlife violates state law. The decision responds to a lawsuit filed by animal protection and conservation organizations.
The court concluded that Monterey County violated the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by failing to analyze the environmental impacts before renewing the controversial program, which has shot, trapped and snared thousands of animals in the county in recent years.
“This is a decisive victory for California’s wildlife and for science as it sends a clear message to USDA Wildlife Services and to entities contracting with them that they must look at the impacts of killing thousands of animals to both target and non-target animals as well as to the environment,” said Camilla Fox, founder and executive director of Project Coyote.
The court’s ruling finds that Monterey County’s contract renewal with Wildlife Services violates CEQA because the county wrongfully claimed an exemption from the Act. The court found “no evidence” to support the county’s claim that its contract for predator control could not result in “significant environmental change,” so the county must now analyze the environmental impacts of the program.
“This decision is a major victory for Monterey County’s coyotes, foxes and other wildlife,” said Collette Adkins, an attorney and biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “All the latest science shows predator control is expensive, ineffective and inhumane. We hope the court’s decision spurs the county to realize that business-as-usual wildlife killing is no longer acceptable.”
Monterey County’s previous contract authorized Wildlife Services to kill hundreds of coyotes, as well as bobcats, mountain lions and other animals every year without fully assessing the ecological damage or considering alternatives. For example, from June 2014 to June 2015, Wildlife Services killed 105 coyotes, three mountain lions and two bobcats in the county. Over the past six years, Wildlife Services has killed more than 3,500 animals in Monterey County using traps, snares and firearms.
“It is appalling that Wildlife Services, a little known federal program, uses taxpayer dollars to slaughter millions of wild animals annually,” explained Tara Zuardo, a wildlife attorney with the Animal Welfare Institute. “We applaud the court in this case for calling out Monterey County for violating state law and recognizing the significant environmental impact of Wildlife Service’s unnecessary and inhumane slaughter of wildlife in the county.”
“We are pleased with the court’s decision and willingness to enforce this important environmental statute,” said Katherine Henderson, the lead attorney representing the conservation organizations.
“Wildlife Services should be under close scrutiny for its track record of indiscriminate killing and subjecting countless animals to painful deaths,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “The individual coyotes, foxes, bobcats and others killed annually by Wildlife Services are integral components of the environment, and the government cannot recklessly kill these species without carefully assessing the potential ecological consequences of their deaths.”
A Monterey County resident joined with Animal Legal Defense Fund, theAnimal Welfare Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Project Coyote and the Mountain Lion Foundation to file the lawsuit that led to this victory. The conservationists were represented by Katherine Henderson, Christoher Mays and Mary Procaccio-Flowers of the law firm Wilson Sonsoni Goodrich & Rosati.
Last year, Wildlife Services reported that it killed 1.6 million native animals nationwide, including 3,893 coyotes, 142 foxes, 83 black bears, 18 bobcats and thousands of other creatures in California. Nontarget animals — including family dogs and protected wildlife like wolves, Pacific fisher, and eagles — are also at risk from Wildlife Services’ indiscriminate methods.
Peer-reviewed research shows that such reckless slaughter of animals—particularly predators—results in broad ecological destruction and loss of biodiversity. The program’s controversial and indiscriminate killing methods have come under increased scrutiny from scientists, the public, and government officials.
The Animal Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1979 to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. To accomplish this mission, the Animal Legal Defense Fund files high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm; provides free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are punished for their crimes; supports tough animal protection legislation and fights harmful legislation; and provides resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law. For more information, please visit aldf.org.
The Animal Welfare Institute is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. For more information, visit awionline.org.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places: biologicaldiversity.org.
Project Coyote, a national nonprofit organization headquartered in Northern California, is a North American coalition of wildlife educators, scientists, ranchers, and community leaders promoting coexistence between people and wildlife, and compassionate conservation through education, science, and advocacy. For more information, visit ProjectCoyote.org.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.
For 30 years, the Mountain Lion Foundation has worked with member volunteers and activists to further wildlife policies that seek to protect mountain lions, people and domestic animals without resorting to lethal measures. For more information, visitmountainlion.org.
Posted: Mar 22, 2017 8:14 PM PDTUpdated: Mar 22, 2017 8:14 PM PDT
Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 05:55 PM EST
SWEDEN, N.Y. — A fundraising page has been set up for the man seriously injured in a hunting accident in the Town of Sweden earlier this week.
Monroe County Sheriff’s investigators say Brett Blackburn was hunting coyotes with his son in a field off South Lake Road in Sweden when he accidentally shot Robert Williams.
Blackburn told investigators it was dark and he mistook Williams for an animal, firing his rifle once and hitting the Byron man in the abdomen.
Williams remains in guarded condition at Strong Memorial Hospital.
The GoFundMe page, started by Williams’ sister, says most people can recognize him by his “big heart, infectious laugh and relaxed demeanor.”
She says she wants to help her brother, who has a wife and 2-month-old baby, with the now-mounting hospital expenses.
Brett Blackburn was arrested and arraigned on second-degree assault charges for the shooting. He has since posted bail.
COLUMBIA — Outsmarting coyotes and other predators presents its own set of challenges for hunters.
“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.”
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.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) — This weekend marked the first West Virginia Coyote Hunt. It ran from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, as hunters across the state checked in at Cabela’s in South Charleston, then hunted coyotes for a maximum 24 hour period.
Men and women from across the state, as well as bordering states participated, according to organizers.
Shannon Sizemore of Team Fur Seekers, out of Cincinnati, Ohio, organized the contest. Sizemore is a native of Big Ugly, West Virginia and says his roots run deep here.
“Comraderie and the atmosphere here, it’s phenomenal, I mean this is what I wanted,” he says. Sizemore says his goal was to teach and educate the community that coyotes need to be hunted regularly in order to help control the population, that often preys on a range of animals, including deer, turkey and even household pets.
“With coyotes having no natural predator, it’s a problem. It’s going to take it’s toll if people don’t start hunting them,” he says. “For whoever says this is a blood bath, it’s nothing about going out and killing coyotes this weekend. It’s teaching and learning them what we can do to prevent what’s going to take place in the future if we don’t do this.
Organizers say approximately 500 hunters participated from 135 teams. Approximately 40 coyotes were killed during the 24 hour sporting event, and nearly $11,000 was awarded in prizes.
“It’s about the atmosphere, the camaraderie. Spending time with your family, your friends, your children. That’s what hunting is about,” Sizemore says.
Sizemore says the coyotes would not be disposed of properly and fur will be used.
The Humane Society of West Virginia condemned the contest, referring to it as a “blood bath.” They released a statement saying “Allowing this blood sport to continue gives hunters and wildlife agencies a black eye and sends a dangerous message to our youth that killing is fun. Gratuitously slaughtering animals for thrills and prizes is unethical and out of step with our current understanding of ecosystems and the important role each species plays.”
Research by UCLA biologists published today presents strong evidence that the scientific reason advanced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act is incorrect.
A key justification for protection of the gray wolf under the act was that its geographic range included the Great Lakes region and 29 Eastern states, as well as much of North America. The Fish and Wildlife Service published a document in 2014 which asserted that a newly recognized species called the eastern wolf occupied the Great Lakes region and eastern states, not the gray wolf. Therefore, the original listing under the act was invalid, and the service recommended that the species (except for the Mexican gray wolf, which is the most endangered gray wolf in North America) should be removed from protection under the act.
A decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act may be made as early as this fall.
In the new study published in the journal Science Advances, biologists analyzed the complete genomes of North American wolves — including the gray wolf, eastern wolf and red wolf — and coyotes. The researchers found that both the red wolf and eastern wolf are not distinct species, but instead are mixes of gray wolf and coyote.
“The recently defined eastern wolf is just a gray wolf and coyote mix, with about 75 percent of its genome assigned to the gray wolf,” said senior author Robert Wayne, a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. “We found no evidence for an eastern wolf that has a separate evolutionary legacy. The gray wolf should keep its endangered species status and be preserved because the reason for removing it is incorrect. The gray wolf did live in the Great Lakes area and in the 29 eastern states.”
Once common throughout North America and among the world’s most widespread mammals, the gray wolf is now extinct in much of the United States, Mexico and Western Europe, and lives mostly in wilderness and remote areas. Gray wolves still live in the Great lakes area, but not in the eastern states.
Apparently, the two species first mixed hundreds of years ago in the American South, resulting in a population that has become more coyote-like as gray wolves were slaughtered, Wayne said. The same process occurred more recently in the Great Lakes area, as wolves became rare and coyotes entered the region in the 1920s.
The researchers analyzed the genomes of 12 pure gray wolves (from areas where there are no coyotes), three coyotes (from areas where there are no gray wolves), six eastern wolves (which the researchers call Great Lakes wolves) and three red wolves.
There has been a substantial controversy over whether red wolves and eastern wolves are genetically distinct species. In their study, the researchers did not find a unique ancestry in either that could not be explained by inter-breeding between gray wolves and coyotes.
“If you did this same experiment with humans — human genomes from Eurasia — you would find that one to four percent of the human genome has what looks like strange genomic elements from another species: Neanderthals,” Wayne said. “In red wolves and eastern wolves, we thought it might be at least 10 to 20 percent of the genome that could not be explained by ancestry from gray wolves and coyotes. However, we found just three to four percent, on average — similar to that found in individuals from the same species when compared to our small reference set.”
Pure eastern wolves were thought to reside in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park. The researchers studied two samples from Algonquin Provincial Park and found they were about 50 percent gray wolf, 50 percent coyote.
Biologists mistakenly classified the offspring of gray wolves and coyotes as red wolves or eastern wolves, but the new genomic data suggest they are hybrids. “These gray wolf-coyote hybrids look distinct and were mistaken as a distinct species,” Wayne said.
Eventually, after the extinction of gray wolves in the American south, the red wolves could mate only with one another and coyotes, and became increasingly coyote-like.
Red wolves turn out to be about 25 percent gray wolf and 75 percent coyote, while the eastern wolf’s ancestry is approximately 75 percent gray wolf and 25 percent coyote, Wayne said. (Wayne’s research team published findings in the journal Nature in 1991 suggesting red wolves were a mixture of gray wolves and coyotes.)
Although the red wolf, listed as an endangered species in 1973, is not a distinct species, Wayne believes it is worth conserving; it is the only repository of the gray wolf genes that existed in the American South, he said.
The researchers analyzed SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) — tiny variations in a genetic sequence, and used sophisticated statistical approaches. In the more than two dozen genomes, they found 5.4 million differences in SNPs, a very large number.
Wayne said the Endangered Species Act has been extremely effective. He adds, however, that when it was formulated in the 1970s, biologists thought species tended not to inter-breed with other species, and that if there were hybrids, they were not as fit. The scientific view has changed substantially since then. Inter-breeding in the wild is common and may even be beneficial, he said. The researchers believe the Endangered Species Act should be applied with more flexibility to allow protection of hybrids in some cases (it currently does not), and scientists have made several suggestions about how this might be done without a change in the law, Wayne said.
Co-authors of the study include lead author Bridgett vonHoldt, an assistant professor at Princeton University and former UCLA graduate student and postdoctoral scholar who worked in Wayne’s laboratory; Beth Shapiro, UC Santa Cruz associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology; Jacqueline Robinson, a UCLA graduate student in ecology and evolutionary biology in Wayne’s laboratory; and Zhenxin Fan, an assistant professor at China’s Sichuan University, who was a visiting graduate student in Wayne’s laboratory.
The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Turner Endangered Species Fund, the Wilburforce Foundation, and the Morris Animal Foundation.
A hundred or fewer wolves may preclude the extinction of the species, but it does not restore the ecological function of the wolf. And restoring the ecological function of the species should be the prime goal of any conservation effort. Precluding extinction is a very low bar and does not serve the people of Oregon, the wolf or our ecosystems.
I did an analysis of the potential for wolf restoration in Oregon back in the 1990s and concluded that the state could easily support 1,500 to 2,000 wolves. Others have reached similar conclusions. Restoring wolves across the state so that they are functional members of the wildlife community should be the goal of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
If, hypothetically, elk were the species under consideration and were protected under the state’s Endangered Species Act, I can almost guarantee you ODFW would want way more than 100 individuals before they would recommend delisting. They would want to see elk restored across the state.
Wolves are in a sense a “keystone” species that influences ecosystem health. Having a token population of wolves is not the same as having a functioning ecosystem member. Wolves not only eliminate weaker prey individuals but can shift habitat use; for instance they can reduce elk and deer foraging on aspen, willows and other browse species in riparian areas. Wolves can also affect the distribution and numbers of other species. Where wolves are present, there are often fewer coyotes. Coyotes kill the smaller Sierra Nevada red fox that is just hanging on in the Cascades. Restoration of wolves could thus assist the recovery of the red fox.
The rush to delist wolves is driven by false perceptions of wolf impacts on livestock and big game populations. Out of 1.3 million cattle and 195,000 sheep in the state, only 114 domestic livestock have been confirmed killed by wolves since the first wolves appeared in the early 2000s. Comparisons between Montana and Oregon are often made by ODFW. Using Montana, in 2014, the state’s 600 or so wolves killed 35 cattle and six sheep out of a total of 2.5 million cattle and 220,000 sheep respectively, By comparison, non-wolf losses accounted for 89,000 deaths. And though six sheep were killed by wolves, some 7,800 sheep died from other causes, like weather.
Wolves are simply not a threat, or even barely a factor, in the economic viability of the livestock industry.
The idea that hunting will be negatively affected across any significant portion of the state is also unlikely. Between 2009 and 2014, all wildlife management units (WMUs) of northeastern Oregon with established wolf packs had increasing elk populations, and two of the four (Imnaha and Snake River) were above the established management objectives for elk since wolves became established (ODFW data).
A similar situation exists in Montana, where elk numbers grew from an estimated 89,000 animals in 1992 (Montana Elk Plan) to 167,000 elk today (Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, 2015). If this is what you get with wolf predation, I think most reasonable hunters would agree we could use more wolves in Oregon!
In the end, ODFW capitulated to mythology and false fears of hunters and ranchers without providing context and did not meet its wildlife responsibilities under the public trust doctrine to work diligently for full restoration of the ecological function of the wolf.
George Wuerthner lives in Bend.
Comments regarding the proposed delisting of gray wolves in Oregon from Adrian Treves, Project Coyote Science Advisory Board member
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.
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.