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home : columns : columns July 22, 2017

7/30/2013 12:54:00 PM
Don't feel sorry for the coyote
There he is, in all his glory  the coyote. What a survivor! photo by Jim Anderson
+ click to enlarge
There he is, in all his glory the coyote. What a survivor! photo by Jim Anderson

By Jim Anderson

There is no predator on this planet quite like the coyote.

Yes, Man is pretty good at killing things and surviving, but when it comes to doing it with tooth and claw we can't even come close to the coyote. If coyotes ever learn how to shoot guns, use poison, or set traps, there won't be a safe place for a human to sleep or grow food.

Yes, coyotes do think and adapt, they have the uncanny ability to survey a situation and make the best choices for the coyote. There is one single word that can best describe the coyote: Survivor!

In the 1800s, the hordes of European-American pioneers discovered the American wolf and its prodigious appetite for domestic sheep and other such delicacies. Likewise, it wasn't long before the newcomers who tended those cloven-hoofed locusts found it incompatible to live with the wolf, so the wolf had to go - and it did.

The humans discovered wolves to be family folk, so it was too easy to exterminate (as in trap, shoot and poison) whole families of wolves - and in a short time they were no more. (No one really thought that some three hundred years or so into the future humans would start raising wolves, or there would be such a thing as "The Endangered Species Act.")

Then the states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona got started and ancestors of those first white man pioneers (plus new arrivals) discovered the coyote - or put another way - the coyote discovered the newcomer's livestock. That's when all the trouble began.

The wolf was - relatively speaking - easy to exterminate, so why not the coyote? Yeah, why not the coyote? To start right off, the coyote does not have to live as "family." It doesn't "take a village to raise a child," all it takes is a female coyote who can adapt, find room to move somewhere else, and the males to go with them.

Yes, coyotes prefer to hunt in "family units," sometimes called a band, pack or rout, but if that isn't convenient - or safe - they'll use a different tactic. And that is what the government trappers can't seem to figure out.

"If shooting, trapping, poisoning, digging out dens to kill pups was what it took to kill off the blinkity-blankity wolf, by god it has to work for the blinkity-blankity coyote!"

Not so. The coyote just keeps adjusting, that's why they're living in Astoria, Boston, Chicago, upstate New York, downtown L.A. and in every state in the union.

The coyote has been persecuted by man for over 300 years and all we've done is teach them to go someplace else to live.

(Early Native Americans thought them extremely clever, started lots of myths and stories about them, and decided to leave them alone. "Control" wasn't in their vocabulary.)

Wholesale slaughtering of coyotes by the government is nothing more than "job security" for the killers. The more they indiscriminately poison, trap, dig out dens, use snares, "getters," and shoot them from aircraft, the more coyotes there will be.

The recreational shooters who go out "coyote huntin'" also contribute to the coyote's distribution. Shooters and trappers also imperil eagles when they kill coyotes and leave the carcasses where they drop. X-rays have shown how lead bullets explode upon impact, scattering the lethal stuff all through the animal's body. When an eagle, hawk, turkey vulture - or condor - discovers the carcass, they feed on it until there's nothing left but bones, all the while ingesting the lead, which can eventually kill them.

And in case you're wondering, it is illegal to have a "pet" coyote in Oregon. So, don't worry about the coyote's welfare; they'll do just fine without our help - there are enough people persecuting them to keep them on their toes.

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