Canada Goose plans shift to reclaimed fur over wild coyote product

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Luxury parka maker Canada Goose Holdings Inc. plans to start using reclaimed fur for its coats and stop purchasing new fur in a couple years even though some animal rights groups don’t see the reversal as a victory for wildlife.

“We remain committed to the functionality and sustainability of real fur, however we are challenging ourselves to do it better, reusing what already exists,” the company said in its first sustainability report released Wednesday.

For five decades, it has used wild coyote fur from Western Canada and the U.S., that it says its suppliers ensure never comes from fur farms, among other measures.

However, Canada Goose will start making parkas with reclaimed fur in 2022 and stop purchasing new fur that same year in an effort to satisfy consumer demand, the company said.

It notes people living in the North have worked with reclaimed fur for decades and the initiative was inspired by their resourcefulness.

The company also plans to launch a consumer buy-back program for fur in the coming months.

“We believe we must operate sustainably. It’s the right decision for our business, our customers and most importantly, our future,” the report reads, which notes consumers today want more information about fur sustainability and animal welfare, and demand more transparency.

Canada Goose did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Canadian animal rights group Animal Justice called the change “a stunning reversal” prompted by shifting public opinion about fur for fashion, as well as years of advocacy against Canada Goose’s use of fur. It noted California recently banned the sale of new fur.

However, the Canada Goose announcement is still only a “partial victory,” the group said.

“It would be better for the company to abandon fur and down altogether,” noting the switch to reclaimed fur doesn’t help ducks and geese whose feathers are used for down.

The company addresses its use of down in the report, saying it chooses “natural down in jackets because it is the best natural source for warmth per weight ratio.”

Last year, Canada Goose committed to the responsible down standard (RDS) and commits to being certified fully by 2021.

“The RDS aims to ensure that down and feathers come from animals that have not been subjected to unnecessary harm.”

RDS prohibits down or feather removal from live birds and force feeding, according to its website. Its standards also include other measures, including auditing each stage in the supply chain by a professional, third-party certification body.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals called the change to reclaimed fur an attempt to “humane wash” and that “real fur is always cruelly obtained.”

PETA and Animal Justice have fought Canada Goose over its use of animal products.

On Tuesday, an Ontario court dismissed PETA’s application for a judicial review. PETA argued its right to free expression was violated when its anti-Canada Goose ads were taken down in Toronto. Animal Justice intervened in the case and supported PETA’s position.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 22, 2020.

  • Canada GooseJackets are on display at the Canada Goose Inc. showroom in Toronto on Thursday, November 28, 2013. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

Student Activists Raise Awareness About Cruel Canada Goose Practices

The Cornell Vegan Society demonstrated on Ho Plaza to bring awareness to the animal cruelty involved in producing Canada Goose products.

Courtesy of Isabel Lu

The Cornell Vegan Society demonstrated on Ho Plaza to bring awareness to the animal cruelty involved in producing Canada Goose products.

18 hours ago

On Ho Plaza, Lucy Contreras ’21 defiantly faced the Thursday afternoon passersby with the words “Fur Kills” painted across her abdomen and an apparently blood-drenched Canada Goose jacket wrapped around her body.

The blood was fake, as was the jacket — an imitation with a “Canada Douche” sticker where one would normally find the coat’s iconic sleeve patch.

Contreras, who is a Sun opinion columnist, and her fellow demonstrators aimed to raise awareness about the animal cruelty involved in making the products of the ubiquitous winter-time brand. The coats use goose feathers, most commonly obtained by plucking live geese without any painkillers, and leaving open wounds before they are killed, according to Contreras, president of Cornell Vegan Society and Sun opinion columnist.

The detachable fur trim around the hood of the coat is made of coyote fur, Contreras said. This fur is obtained by capturing wild coyotes in steel traps, where they are often left to agonize for days — suffering from gangrene, dehydration, or attacked by other predators before the trapper returns, according to PETA. If still alive at this point, they are bludgeoned, stomped, or strangled to death, said Contreras.

The demonstrators hoped that those who currently own Canada Goose products never buy from them again and donate the detachable coyote-fur trim of their coats. Several organizations, including PETA and the Wildlife Rescue League, accept donations of furs and redistribute them to rehabilitating animals in shelters or homeless people.

And for those who don’t own Canada Goose products, the demonstrators want them to consider animal cruelty when they buy products such as coats, pillows and comforters.

Chloe Cabrera grad, a participant in the demonstration, called for people to make more responsible consumer choices.

“Each Canada Goose jacket requires seven birds and two coyotes. That’s nine animals dying for virtually no reason, for an overpriced coat that works just as well as any vegan coat,” Cabrera said.

Ultimately, Contreras said, geese and coyotes suffer and die on behalf of the market demand for Canada Goose.

The demonstration was “eye-opening,” Paul Agbaje ’22 said after speaking with a protester.

“No matter how you feel about it, people seem to just mindlessly buy these Canada Goose jackets, without ever considering the ethical implications,” he said.

Other onlookers were less keen, making hostile comments about the demonstration as they walked by.

Contreras is understanding of negative responses like these. “I feel like this shame and this frustration is the beginning of a process of acceptance and of actually taking action against Canada Goose,” she said.

“We’re not blaming them,” Contreras said. “We just want them to know, in the future, to buy jackets that don’t have down or fur.”

Contreras declared the demonstration a success, describing it as one step towards a better public understanding of the relationship between everyday expenditures and animal exploitation.

She encourages friends and peers of Canada Goose wearers to engage them in dialogue. On campus, conversations about ethical consumption are on the rise — Cornell Vegan Society has risen from just a handful of members twoyears ago to about twenty five today, according to Contreras.

She wants them to know that, “with that social status, you are hurting a lot of beings in the process. And it’s not worth it.”

Student Activists Raise Awareness About Cruel Canada Goose Practices

New permit means open season for hunting many furry predators

You can soon hunt raccoons, coyotes, and other furry predators on your private land to help protect bird populations.

It will soon be critter season all year long in Arkansas. It may be the worst news in a while for coyotes since the Acme Roadrunner trap arrived in the mail.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission voted to relax hunting regulations on certain predator species.

RELATED: UCAPD help save raccoon hilariously stuck in drain grate

“Raccoons, possums, red fox, coyotes — things like that,” said Randy Zellers, the assistant chief of communications for the AGFC. “What it is going to do is give a private landowner to manage on a local level if he feels that predator populations are high and maybe impacting his ground nesting birds in the area.”

Coyotes and possums like quick meals they can get from a quail’s nest. To manage that, you can now set traps or hunt them with a special permit. There doesn’t have to be a set season, and more importantly, no set hours.

“You will be able to harvest bobcat, coyote, skunk, possum, and raccoon day or night,” Zellers said after getting a free predator-control permit. That lets hunters get them when they are out and active.

Officials are not declaring a critter crisis, but the rules needed updating because the days of every kid running around with a Davy Crockett hat are long gone.

“Years ago, people used to trap animals for pelts,” Zellers said. “As that has gone out of style, there’s not as much money involved in trapping animals for pelts.”

Rules are already in place that allow you to shoot predators if they threaten people, pets, or livestock. This new permit means you can do it more efficiently with an eye on wildlife management.

A hunter is also not responsible for having to turn the skin into a coat or a hat if they have the special permit.

Zellers points out that the permit is mainly for people living in the country.

While coyotes and foxes often encroach on suburban or even residential areas in cities, local firearms laws still supersede the special permit regulations.

RELATED: Dad, teens face-off against growling coyote

If you have a raccoon or skunk problem closer to town, the AGFC has standard advice.

“We still recommend the number one thing is remove all the food sources and make sure those animals are not welcome,” Zellers said.

The permits will be available in late August.

Coyote pup rescued after mother is hit, killed by car while crossing road

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A state trooper helped rescue a coyote pup Sunday night after the pup’s mother was hit and killed by a car while crossing the road near Suffolk Downs.

State police said Trooper Carlo Mastromattei was originally dispatched to a report about a wounded dog Sunday night, but found the frightened pup on the busy Revere Beach Parkway. The trooper called various state agencies for help, but none were available.

Lisa Cutting, of Oceanview Kennel in Revere, was able to respond and brought a crate for the 4-week-old pup.

Mastromattei brought the pup home in the crate overnight, state police said.

Oceanview Kennel brought the pup, which was named Carlos, to Tufts Wildlife Center in Grafton the next day.

Veterinarians there examined the pup and found he was healthy, state police said.

“The little guy is going to be transferred to the care of a wildlife specialist in the Berkshires, who will rehabilitate him and acclimate him to life in the wild, where he will eventually be released,” state police said.

Follow this story to get instant e-mail alerts from WCVB on the latest developments and related topics.

Letter on The reality of trapping

A suggestion for recreational trappers to help people understand their sport: have interactive activities this Saturday at the Wild N.H. event in Concord.

Set up a demo area (fallen log, etc.) where kids can suggest where to put a trap and bait. Say for a fox or coyote. Then let a dog loose near the trap and see if the setup works. If the dog steps on the trap, its screams of pain and fear would bring people running – instant audience.

The trappers could then show the kids how to bludgeon the dog to death without damaging its coat. Or, at this family event, show how today’s traps allow the release of a trapped animal with little injury. Let the dog go, and point out: no broken bones, no blood, just a slight limp. No need to mention the dog’s broken teeth from its frantic biting at the trap.

No one should cause this much pain to animals as recreation. Some trapping is necessary – usually targeted at individuals. And set for a quick kill, not for hours in a trap. Manage predator populations? Not unless you measure population size and increase trapping when numbers are high, decrease it when low.

Note: What I describe above is not going to happen at Wild N.H. Day. There will be many fun and interesting exhibits. Come and bring the kids. But know that the table of beautiful furs set up by the trappers rests on a dark, cruel reality.


A tale of three dogs

Coyotes, dingoes and wolves are all dogs, as intelligent and loyal as our familiars. Our treatment of them is unconscionable

Brandon Keim

is a science, nature and technology writer whose work has appeared in The AtlanticWIREDNational Geographic NewsScientific American Mind and the Guardian, among others. He divides his time between Bangor, Maine and Washington DC.

4,200 words

Edited by Brigid Hains

Drinking her coffee one sunny winter morning, Pamela Karaz looked out the window of her home in upstate New York and saw a coyote walking up the driveway. It was an uncommon sight – coyotes tend to be secretive – but what happened next was even more surprising. The coyote marked a tree with his scent, strolled across her yard, sniffed at a few tracks and then noticed a bright blue plush toy Karaz had bought a few days earlier for Bristol, her golden retriever.

Bristol had left the toy outside, as was her habit. Now the coyote sniffed it, picked it up in his mouth, dropped it, picked it up again. Then the coyote started to have fun. ‘He tossed it up in the air. It fell down. He picked it up again and bucked around,’ Karaz said. ‘At no point do I ever think he thought it was prey. He wasn’t trying to tear it apart. He was literally playing with it, like a dog.’ This went on for about 10 minutes before the coyote trotted away with the toy still in his mouth.

Karaz is a wildlife photographer, and the photos she took had a moment of internet fame. They resonated: a fierce wild animal, behaving like a pet! Or, as Karaz noted, like a dog. Which of course coyotes are, albeit dogs who embody the very complicated relationship of humanity to canines.

Some dogs exist inside the circle of human domesticity: beloved companions and friends, respected and often pampered. They sleep in our homes, sometimes in our beds. We buy them plush toys. Other dogs live outside, free and independent. They possess the essential cognitive and emotional faculties as our dogs; domestication has introduced refinements, but the raw material was already there. They have personalities, memories, love their pups, and are devoted to their packs. Every so often, they play with toys we don’t bring inside.

They’re also treated arbitrarily: sometimes respected, sometimes ignored, and frequently persecuted with extreme prejudice if not outright cruelty. It’s a dissonant state of affairs, and one that sometimes makes me wonder about the future of wild dogs. Not about whether they’ll survive through this century and beyond, but what sort of lives they’ll lead. Whether they’ll thrive or live on our margins, fearful and broken, a perpetually abused canine underclass.

Karaz, who considers her dogs to be family, is a coyote advocate. To her, they’re just wild dogs trying to survive. But if she’d wanted to kill that coyote and had a hunting licence, she could have. For $22, or $100 for out-of-state residents, people can kill as many coyotes as they want for six months a year in nearly all of New York state – which, compared with most parts of the United States, is quite restrictive. In many states, coyotes can be killed year-round, day or night, in just about any way: poisoned, lured into range with electronic calls that mimic their voices, chased from planes, shot with semi-automatic assault weapons or sniper rifles. They live in killing fields.

Coyote-killing is different from hunting deer, elk or so-called game birds, traditions that are steeped in an ethos of stewardship, provision and even fairness. It’s killing for fun. YouTube abounds with videos that revel in the death of a coyote; in many parts of the western US, so-called coyote derbies are common, documented in photographs of stacked bodies – the kinds of photos we associate with the rapaciousness of the 19th-century frontier.

The advocacy group Project Coyote in northern California estimates that 500,000 coyotes are killed every year in the US, roughly one-fifth by the federal government for the purpose of reducing harm to livestock (the effectiveness of which is scientifically debatable) and the rest for their fur, to increase populations of prey animals we’d prefer to shoot ourselves, or simply for pleasure. ‘Think of a 35-pound dog, lying on the couch, and people doting on it,’ said the ecologist Shelley Alexander, leader of the Canid Conservation Science Lab at the University of Calgary in Canada. ‘But coyotes, some people enjoy killing, even torturing. And they’re the same animal.’

For Alexander, this disparity challenges the fundamentals of conservation – not just the obvious institutions and organisations, but the mindset guiding human concern with the natural world. A few small advocacy groups and the Humane Society, which is powerful but generally viewed as an animal welfare organisation, raise objections to the cruelty of coyote killing. But mainstream conservationists tend to be silent on it or, in the case of governmental wildlife agencies, actively support it. Even among those who don’t like it, says Alexander, wanton killing is tolerated because coyotes reproduce quickly. Their populations are not threatened. It’s populations and species rather than individuals that are the focus of wildlife management for conservation.

In cities and suburbs across the US, coyotes have been greeted with unease and fascination, symbols of wild nature in unexpected places

That animals have inner lives, a fact made abundantly clear by cognitive science and animal behaviour research, is not considered in these calculations. Nor are the ethical considerations that naturally follow from those insights. Which isn’t to say conservationists don’t care about animals as thinking, feeling individuals – many do – but those concerns are considered separately. Individual lives matter only when there’s few of them, and coyotes are in no danger of extinction.

Quite the opposite. Indeed, coyotes respond to persecution by increasing their breeding rates. Kill some, and soon there’s more than before, though survivors endure the pain of loss and upheaval. ‘These are animals who are intelligent, have unique personalities and family lives,’ said Kevin Bixby, executive director of the Southwest Environmental Center in New Mexico. ‘Individuals are not just automatons. One coyote is not necessarily replaceable.’

In the past few decades, coyotes have taken up residence in cities and suburbs across the US. There, they’ve been greeted with both unease and fascination, symbols of wild nature in unexpected places. I’m sometimes uncomfortable with that characterisation: coyotes might be symbolic, but they’re also, like Karaz said, just dogs trying to survive. Of more importance is a little-asked question: what sort of lives are urban coyotes leading?

I put the question to Alexander. It depends where they are, she said. Some live peacefully amid lots of green space. Many live in constant fear and stress. They’re harassed by people and our dogs, hit by cars, spooked by strange noises, and end up eating garbage. Yet Stan Gehrt, an ecologist at Ohio State University who studies the Chicago area’s booming coyote population, offered a different view. Suburbs, he said, are great life for coyotes. Even downtown, where there’s traffic, human disturbance and other hardships, Chicago’s coyotes are in excellent health.

‘All of it is much better than unprotected rural areas,’ said Gehrt, ‘where they will be shot and killed.’ Not long ago, Chicago’s city council passed an ordinance forbidding animal control officers from harming coyotes unless they had a track record of threatening or attacking people. It’s the opposite of the traditional approach, and suggests that cities could become oases of peace and security for creatures persecuted in more rural areas.

As for Karaz’s coyote, he trotted away with the toy in his mouth. She hasn’t seen him again, but her own dogs still have a habit of leaving their toys outside. Occasionally, she finds them in the woods nearby.

Shortly after his arrival at the Evelyn Downs cattle station in South Australia, on a routine patrol of the nearly 900-square-mile property, the ecologist Adam O’Neill encountered a pack of dingoes. Roughly a dozen of the tawny, medium-sized dogs were tearing a dead calf to pieces: five feeding on the body, and the rest skulking nearby, fighting for their turn. Watching the scene, O’Neill considered whether to shoot them. After all, though he and his fellow ecologist Arian Wallach were at Evelyn Downs to study its natural communities, they were also tasked with managing its cattle.

Before becoming a scientist, O’Neill had made his living as a professional hunter, hired by Australian landowners to kill invasive and unwanted animals. He knew how to use his gun. He was also tired of killing, which is why he’d become an ecologist. Reflecting on the cruelty often shown to animals in that part of the world, O’Neill used his rifle’s scope to examine one of the dingoes. The dog, he thought, looked desperate.

It’s an impression that might once have been denounced as anthropomorphic. In a few shrinking circles, it might still be. Who’s to say whether an animal is desperate? Yet to anyone who’s known a dog well it won’t seem implausible at all, and the Evelyn Downs dingoes likely had good reason.

In Australia, killing dingoes is a basic part of livestock management. Between poisoning, shooting and fencing, there are few places where dingoes are left alone. The constant assault disrupts pack relationships and atomises families, leaving behind what O’Neill would describe as ‘young, unruly, displaced refugees… just a bunch of poor lost souls living in a world of turmoil’. He lowered his gun.

Apart from being compassionate, it was also a sensible research decision. The ubiquity of dingo persecution has made it difficult to appreciate their natural behaviours and roles. Even when present, they’re often not functioning in stable packs. O’Neill and Wallach were especially interested in understanding the ecology of a landscape with healthy dingoes, and even hoped to show that a successful cattle operation might be run without killing them.

In the months following O’Neill’s mercy, the dingoes found their level. They formed packs, established territories and stopped killing calves, instead focusing their attentions on wild prey. O’Neill regularly encountered their tracks, but only rarely saw them in the flesh. ‘When they’re socially stable, they virtually disappear from sight,’ he said. ‘I’ve noticed this throughout the whole of my working life.’

O’Neill attributes it to the development of a local canine culture, with lessons passed down between generations: don’t mess with the two-legs and their property. In healthy families, he said, ‘they are invariably well-behaved. I guess what it all comes down to is mutual respect. We respect their right to keep breathing, and they respect our rights as owners of resources in a shared landscape.’

Which might again seem like anthropomorphism. People don’t usually think about animals possessing such sophisticated value systems. Yet dingoes, like other wild dogs, routinely navigate complex social scenarios, and animal culture is a burgeoning area of research. Customs taught to offspring and shared between groups can shape local behaviour in important ways. What O’Neill suggests is at least a plausible hypothesis. And dingoes living in stable packs, learning their landscapes and passing hunting lessons between generations would certainly have less need for the risky pickings offered by livestock.

The Evelyn Downs dingoes soon assumed their natural position as apex predators, a term for creatures who live at the top of food chains, eating other animals but not themselves being eaten. It’s a role they’ve played for the past several thousand years, and – along with hunting and habitat management by the continent’s indigenous inhabitants – one that shaped Australia’s thriving pre-colonial communities of life.

As a rule, apex predators are the bosses of nature’s regulatory system, promoting ecological richness and stability by suppressing irruptions of prey and smaller predators. ‘They allow the number and variety of species occupying any given area to be higher,’ said Wallach, now a research fellow at the University of Technology Sydney and co-founder with O’Neill of the Dingo for Biodiversity Project. ‘In a nutshell, large predators make the world green.’

As a conservation strategy, killing foxes and cats has caused extraordinary suffering while failing in its aim of reducing their populations

In their uninterrupted presence, ecologies gravitate towards what once would have been called balance, but is better understood as dynamic equilibrium: nothing gets out of control. There are many examples. Eliminating mountain lions from a landscape, for example, can lead to dramatically increased deer populations, which in turn means a loss of streamside vegetation and declines in aquatic life. After sea otters were hunted to near-extinction off North America’s western coast, exploding sea-urchin populations devoured the great kelp beds that formed aquatic forest ecosystems; when otters returned, so did the kelp and the life they supported. And at Evelyn Downs, the presence of dingoes regulated, among many other creatures, foxes and cats.

That observation – also described in other studies elsewhere on the continent – is especially relevant in light of the country’s ongoing ecological turmoil. Australia has the world’s highest mammalian extinction rate; dozens of native species are declining or endangered, a fact blamed in part on an onslaught of foxes and cats, which were introduced by European colonists and found rich pickings among creatures unprepared by evolution to withstand their predations.

‘Having dingoes is a great and very practical way to effectively control the smaller predators,’ said Mike Letnic, a conservation biologist at the University of New South Wales whose own research traces many of Australia’s ecological problems to the absence of dingoes. More dingoes means more of the species now declining so precipitously – more bilbies and rock wallabies and kowari, more malleefowl and painted dragons – and more stable populations of species such as kangaroo and emu that are prone to overpopulation remedied by controversial extermination campaigns.

Until now, the conservation approach to feral predators has been to focus on killing foxes and cats, a strategy that’s caused extraordinary suffering while failing miserably in its aim of reducing their populations. Wallach considers this ethically reprehensibleecologically senseless and a terrible way of getting people to respect the natural world. She identifies as a compassionate conservationist: part of a small but growing movement in conservation to promote biodiversity while respecting animals as individuals.

‘Dingoes will do a better job of it than we’ll ever do,’ said Letnic of their biodiversity-protecting ways. Yet they’re not allowed to do that job. Not only are dingoes killed by the livestock industry, says Wallach, but also as a form of environmental management, either as a favour to sheep and cattle pastoralists or inadvertently, with poisons intended for the animals they would otherwise keep under control.

Killing, say Letnic and Wallach, offers an easy and misleading out. Meanwhile, the Australian government announced last year its intent of killing 2 million wild cats in the next several years. Ecologists recently began trials of a trap designed to spray poison onto cats, who will then lick it off their fur and die after days of seizures and vomiting. Somehow this is preferable to simply allowing wild dogs to live. It continues to be easier to kill than to coexist.

Whereas most coyotes and dingoes live and die in anonymity, many wolves are known as individuals – tracked by scientists, even named and followed by a fascinated, often adoring public.

There’s OR-4, the alpha male of Oregon’s Imnaha pack, who was killed this spring after, old and sick, he turned to hunting livestock. Or his son, OR-7, whose 1,000-mile walkabout made him the first known wolf in nearly a century to visit California. He eventually returned north, met a mate and sired a litter of pups – a much happier story than that of Echo, the first wolf seen in the Grand Canyon in more than 70 years, who was shot in late 2014 by a hunter who supposedly mistook her for a coyote.

Most emblematic of all, though, are the wolves of Yellowstone National Park. Canine celebrities since their mid-1990s reintroduction, their histories are as detailed and dramatic as Nordic sagas, but have taken a tragic turn over the past several years as hunting groups and western state wildlife agencies lobbied to remove gray wolves from the federal list of endangered species. Many of Yellowstone’s wolves have been shot and killed after stepping outside the park’s boundaries; they literally cross from one world into another, from a place where their lives are respected to one where they are not.

That dynamic captures tensions surrounding wolves throughout much of the US. Nearly a century after being almost completely exterminated, protection under the Endangered Species Act has allowed their numbers to rise again. The rise is relative – there are still just a few thousand in the continental US, occupying a small fraction of their historical range – but their species-level existence is not quite so precarious. Across the western and upper midwestern states, people are now fighting over what to do with them.

The nitty-gritty of wildlife agency proposals, court decisions and voter referenda are confusing to trace, but certain themes are universal. From one point of view, the lives of individual wolves have value, and should not be taken except to prevent otherwise unavoidable human harm. From another, individual wolves are members of populations that might annually be reduced without eliminating them altogether. And others would be happy to see the entire wolf population reduced. Wolves who previously were protected are now being killed for fun, or for reasons poorly supported by fact.

Killing wolves to prevent attacks on livestock, for example, doesn’t seem to work very well. It makes sense if individuals misbehave, as in the case of OR-4, but quota-based killing with no regard for which wolves are being targeted is likely to backfire: packs are destabilised, territorial fights ensue, and livestock attacks tend to rise. The social fabric is torn. And in places where wolves are killed to enhance populations of deer or elk, there are usually better alternatives available.

Take the case of 527, a famed Yellowstone wolf shot by a man who said he wanted to help elk. Many hunters blamed wolves for dramatic regional elk declines over the past two decades; the real culprits, though, turned out to be a loss of summer habitat and a change in predation by grizzly bears, who’d turned to elk after non-native trout released by fishermen into Lake Yellowstone outcompeted native fish on whom the bears had feasted. Wolves made a convenient scapegoat. Ditto in Idaho and British Columbia, where killing wolves is largely a distraction from more important habitat issues.

Again and again, research shows that rationales for state-sanctioned wolf hunts are flimsy. Yet that science, say wolf advocates, is ignored or applied inconsistently. This was a recurring frustration at a Humane Society-organised carnivore research conference I attended last year: having expected that the best available science would be used to guide decisions, researchers and advocates find that it’s not.

A deeper issue was evident too: one that gets at the very fundaments of how human society interacts with the non-human world. Almost invariably, government wildlife agencies are funded by sales of licences for hunting, fishing and trapping, and are strongly biased towards the treatment of wild animals as resources to be managed for human consumption. Many wolf advocates argue that such agencies, especially at the state level, can’t be trusted to be fair or – crucially – democratic.

That arrangement is the foundation of what’s known as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, codified early in the 20th century following the precipitous decline of now-common animals such as white-tailed deer, bison and elk, and focused on managing predator populations in order to maximise hunters’ favoured species. In many ways, that model has been successful, yet it’s also showing its age. Hunting is less popular than it once was; at the same time, there’s an ever-swelling number of people who care about animal welfare. At present, they’re largely excluded from wildlife management. At best, their views might be entertained by officials, but rarely are they shared.

As noted in ‘Predators and the Public Trust’ (2015), an article published in the journal Biological Reviews by researchers critical of the North American model, government wildlife agencies tend to see those who advocate for animal welfare as a threat to their work. And indeed, those values do challenge the treatment of animals as a resource – yet they also mean that those agencies no longer represent the public they’re supposed to serve, but just one interest group.

Rather than thinking of wolves as belonging to us, we might think of them as citizens of their own wild nation

To the authors of that Biological Reviews paper, including the ecologist Adrian Treves of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the environmental scientist Jeremy Bruskotter of the Ohio State University, recreational wolf hunting violates the bedrock legal principle that wildlife belongs to everyone, not just a few people who would claim them. The Yellowstone wolves have embodied this literally. Inside the park, they belong to every American; outside it they belong to people who would hunt them. And that, in turn, is a microcosm of the passage of wolves from federal endangered-species protection to state-level management.

There are complications to this view that wildlife is a matter of public trust and shared ownership. There’s a case to be made that, so long as wolves are not completely eliminated, hunting them is compatible with the public trust: it’s not individual animals who belong to everyone, the argument goes, but populations and species across time. From the other end of the spectrum, animal rights advocates object to the idea that animals might be owned by anybody apart from themselves. As Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka arguein Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights (2011), the logic guiding our treatment of wild animals is broadly that of colonialism – or perhaps even slavery. We do with them as we please, regarding them as subject entirely to the human realm. Rather than thinking of wolves as belonging to us, we might think of them as citizens of their own wild nation.

In practical terms, though, Zoopolis and ‘Predators and the Public Trust’ end up in the same place: calling for political institutions and processes to include people who speak for animal welfare and interests. For every hunter on a state wildlife commission there should be someone who argues on behalf of the animals. Rather than starting with a stacked deck, the full range of both science and ethics would be considered.

If this sounds radical, it’s not. Something similar is already happening in California, where the state’s five-person Fish and Game commission now includes two who don’t hunt. Contrary to some fears, many types of hunting do continue in the state – but practices that are socially unpopular and offer no ecological benefit, such as coyote derbies and bobcat trapping, have been banned. Wolves remain protected as endangered.

But California is a progressive state. Such an arrangement will not come so easily elsewhere, especially in relation to wolves. ‘The 21-year old controversy over wolf restoration in the West is not really about wolves,’ wrote Ralph Maughan, the founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition conservation group, in an op-ed published this spring in the Idaho State Journal. ‘It has become another “values” contest.’

Anti-wolf sentiment is frequently intertwined with conservative politics, gun rights, rural disenfranchisement and a distrust of government. Which could help to explain why research on non-lethal prevention of wolf/livestock conflicts hasn’t found much traction among ranchers. It also hints at a troubling possibility: Maughan speculates that regional ecologies might eventually be shaped as much by political as by natural features, producing red state/blue state distributions of wildlife.

Yet there’s reason for optimism, too. The Wood River Wolf Project, an Idaho-sited collaboration of ranchers, wildlife officials and conservationists working to show how wolves and livestock can coexist, has been successful. Though it’s usually the methods, such as guard dogs, range riders and remotely monitored packs, that get the headlines, the project’s success is as much about people and relationships.

‘You start small and build from there,’ said Suzanne Stone, a wolf restoration officer with the advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife. ‘It takes time. Being able to sit down and have a cup of coffee.’ Which applies to democracy generally, and is its saving grace. Whatever our disagreements in principle with strangers, we can often sit down and figure out something in good faith with neighbours. And if political representation of animal interests might not yet be practical everywhere, for every species, it might at least start with wolves, coyotes and dingoes.

After all, to speak on their behalf reflects both the spirit of democracy and the inescapability of animal intelligence, especially among these close cousins of humankind’s best friends. To treat them so differently from the dogs we love is hypocritical. It sets a bad example – one that makes it a little easier to stigmatise and mistreat fellow human beings. As the ethicist William Lynn argues: ‘Wolves are not just good for ecosystem health. They are critical to the moral health of a society.’

Cambridge removes coyote traps after photos spark outcry

NEWS 11:52 AM by Jeff Outhit Waterloo Region Record


George Aitken of Cambridge took this photo of a coyote that was caught in trap at Churchill Park in Cambridge on Wednesday. – George Aitken via Coyote Watch Canada

CAMBRIDGE — Cambridge has abandoned its plan to trap a family of coyotes in Churchill Park, ordering all three leg traps removed after photos of a trapped coyote sparked public outcry.

“I feel very relieved,” said George Aitkin, 68, who took the photographs Wednesday and posted them online.

Friday morning, the city ordered all three coyote traps removed. For now it plans to leave the coyotes and add more warning signs. It will urge people to be cautious, to not leave food for the wildlife, and to leash their dogs as required by law.

“Having the concerns of the residents and some of the animal advocacy groups, council has directed staff to simply take a step back and reassess,” said Hardy Bromberg, a deputy city manager.


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Adult male coyote caught in Churchill Park <>

Aitkin was walking in the park Wednesday when he was horrified to discover a coyote in distress, caught in a leg trap, hurling itself around, panting and chewing at its paw to free itself.

He said he was so distressed by the sight that he would have freed it himself if he thought he could do it safely.

The only coyote the city trapped, a male, was relocated within a kilometre on Wednesday, the city said. It may now make its way back to where it was caught, Bromberg said.

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.

Endangered Science


As Americans enjoy this long weekend of remembrance, many will find their way to a national or state park hoping to see wildlife in their natural habitats. Last year over 300 million people visited the national parks alone, the highest number on record. Tourists photographed bears and bobcats, bison and moose, foxes, wolves, prairie dogs, coyotes, eagles, owls, and more.

What most visitors didn’t see is the work that goes on behind the scenes to make sure that our wildlife is protected, and species on the brink of extinction don’t disappear. Project Coyote is just one of many organizations committed to protecting our public lands and public trust, ensuring that the wild animals visitors hope to see receive the protections they deserve, as outlined in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) decades ago.

One of the fundamental requirements of the ESA is that decisions about protecting wildlife are based on the best available science. This sounds obvious, but in order for science to be credible, it must be independent, which means free of political or commercial interests.

Unfortunately, respect for independent science within wildlife management ranks is as endangered as the animals we try to protect. One of many examples includes the Department of Interior’s alarming decision in 2014 to declare gray wolves recovered nationwide because the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) claimed the wolves occupied most of the remaining suitable habitat in the U.S. In truth, nearly two-dozen states in the historic range were, and still are, vacant. The FWS declared them unsuitable on grounds that human tolerance for wolves was low there and that wolves would be poached by citizens or killed by government agents seeking to protect livestock interests. This is the same year we witnessed wolves returning to their native home of California where they had not been seen since 1924. If FWS policy had been implemented, California might not have seen this important and historic return.

The fact is that none of the available science supported the FWS claim, and what evidence there was actually showed that tolerance for wolves was even higher outside their current range.

According to the ESA, our federal wildlife managers are supposed to address threats that may push a species to extinction, not circumvent the threat by redefining “suitable habitat.” It is required to combat threats and recover listed species, as the ESA states, “across all or a significant portion of range.” (ESA 16 USC § 1531)

Instead, FWS pointed to a non-peer-reviewed analysis suggesting the northeastern U.S. was not gray wolf habitat because a new species had lived there. The criticism that followed eventually led to an independent scientific review process that “unanimously decided that the FWS’s earlier decisions were not well supported by the available science.”

Project Coyote Science Advisory Board members Adrian TrevesJeremy BruskotterJohn Vucetich, and Michael Nelson co-authored this study refuting these assumptions, and there are more examples of FWS ignoring science, including the department’s recent delisting decisions about wolverines and grizzlies that not only omitted independent scientific review, but rejected the recommendations of agency biologists.

If we look at the history of decisions about carnivores under the ESA, we see similar disregard for the best available science. Since 2005, the FWS has lost nearly a dozen federal court cases trying to remove protections for wolves, grizzly bears, and wolverines. In each case, the courts sided with plaintiff’s claims that the Department of the Interior misinterpreted the ESA or did not follow the ESA mandate to base its decisions on the best scientific data available.

Which is why the recent Endangered Species Day was the perfect occasion for me to join with members of Project Coyote’s Science Advisory Board in collaboration with the Union of Concerned Scientists, to compel Interior Secretary Jewell and Commerce Secretary Pritzker to enforce the ESA and serve the public trust by using the best available science. We submitted a petition with the signatures of nearly 1,000 US scientists and scholars, and our request was simple: respect the law and put the independent scientific community back in charge of determining the best available science.

All Americans can be proud of the cooperative vision that produced the Endangered Species Act in 1973, and protects the abundance of wildlife and beautiful landscapes that our federal agencies are charged to steward. Let’s not be the generation that allowed standards to slip so far that, for some species, it’s beyond recovery. When independent science is threatened, so are our keystone species, and the healthy ecosystems we all depend on to survive and thrive.

Learn more about the ways scientists are working for wildlife by visiting Project Coyote’sScience and Stewardship Program and Notes from the Field blog.

New law allows hunting hogs from hot air balloons, but few balloonists will offer it



by Shannon Najmabadi The Texas Tribune

Though a new Texas law allows hunters to shoot feral hogs and coyotes from hot air balloons, it’s not easy to find a balloonist offering the activity.

“I have never had a phone call from anybody asking to do this,” said Pat Cannon of Lewisville, spokesman for the Balloon Federation of America. “I think that people have not stopped laughing yet.”

The law went into effect Sept. 1, but state permitters, insurers and balloonists say they haven’t heard of anyone planning to hunt hogs from hot air balloons. They point to factors like visibility and difficulty steering that make the activity hard.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has not granted any of the permits needed for hot air balloon hunting, said Steve Lightfoot, a department spokesman. Rob Schantz of Jacksonville, Florida, who heads one of the country’s few balloon insurance agencies, said no balloonists had asked if the activity could be covered under their policies. His agency will not offer coverage for aerial hunting.

Among other logistical challenges, the balloon’s burners make a “horrendous roaring noise,” Schantz said. “It would scare anything away, and if they had a chance to take a shot, you could shoot somebody’s dog or shoot a person.”

The new law, authored by state Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, is just one of Texas legislators’ attempts to curb the feral hog population in the state. Called a menace, the estimated 2 million feral hogs in Texas are responsible for about $400 million in damage each year, and their population would grow rapidly if left unchecked. A “pork-chopper” bill – allowing hogs to be hunted from helicopters – has been on the books since 2011, and state officials haveconsidered poisoning the animals with a lethal pesticide.

Lightfoot said department rules that govern hunting from a helicopter are similar to those for gunning from a hot air balloon. Among them is a requirement that there be an agreement with a landowner permitting aerial hunting on his or her property. Lightfoot said Tuesday the department had received one phone call inquiring about the needed permits, but that none had been issued.

Keough said in a statement the new law “will open a whole new industry towards eliminating the growing population of feral hogs in the State of Texas.” After the measure passed both legislative chambers in May, state Rep. John Cyrier, R-Lockhart, wrote a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott saying it could lead to “future catastrophes” without increased oversight of commercial ballooning.

Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, said feral hogs pose a very significant problem to farmers and rural communities, as they destroy land and can carry diseases.

“There hasn’t been a good way to control them,” she said. Hunting from a hot air balloon isn’t expected to be a magic bullet, she said, but it seems like a “reasonable additional tool to add.”

But balloonists and pilots point to numerous challenges that make hunting from a hot air balloon difficult, if not impossible.

First, hot air balloons only fly under certain conditions. Wind, clouds, thermals and time of day are taken into account by the balloonist, and aren’t always conducive to hunting. For example, because balloons float on the wind, they couldn’t circle a pack of feral hogs while the hunters tried to shoot them.

“Let’s just assume you have a herd of feral hogs running one way and … they turn left. The balloon can’t turn left,” said Schantz, the insurance underwriter. “The balloon just keeps going and the feral hogs are off on their merry way the other way.”

For similar reasons, balloons would likely be unable to stop to retrieve the carcasses of shot hogs, said Joe Reynolds, a private pilot in Austin. Because the animals can weigh hundreds of pounds, it would also be difficult to hoist them into the balloon’s basket, and they might exceed the balloon’s load limit, said Reynolds.

Ideally, Cannon said, hot air balloon hunting would take place over land that has a large feral hog population, is owned by one person, and is in a fairly rural area – as balloons must fly at higher altitudes over houses and populated zones. A GPS tracker could help balloonists navigate boundaries that demarcate one property from the next, and make notes of where shot feral hogs fall. The landowner or someone else on the ground could pick up the carcasses.

Still, spotting those property limits from the air can be difficult, Cannon said. If the balloon is accidentally flown over a neighbor’s property, and “somebody points a gun down and shoots and discharges a weapon over that guy’s land,” Cannon said, “he could be prosecuted for that.” Dogs, donkeys or other animals could be mistaken for feral hogs and coyotes from the vantage point of a balloon.

Reynolds, the private pilot, said he’s fielded calls about the activity. But it often becomes immediately apparent “that the reality of it is not going to work.”

“I can’t speak for every balloon pilot in the world,” he added, “but nobody that I’ve talked to is going to try to take any of this on.”

Disclosure: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.