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Killing Coyotes Only Shows Our Stupidity


The Denver Post reports that Greenwood Village’s city council Friday approved “limited” shooting of coyotes in public areas of the city, including parks, greenbelts and watersheds.

Back to the Old West: leg traps. ©Life 1941

The city will pay a private contractor about $200 a day to kill coyotes – the story doesn’t say how many are slated for “elimination” — and it is also asking the Tri-County Health Department for permits to allow the setting of leg traps for coyotes. (Perhaps there are new leg traps that differentiate coyotes from German Shepherds or red foxes or house cats, but I doubt it.)

This is pathetic. What are the council members thinking? Sharpshooters on open space? Leg traps in a municipality in a state that overwhelmingly voted in 1996 to ban such cruel devices? Greenwood Village’s wildlife management plan forsakes all known science about coyotes to hold a media show – perhaps the contractor holding up dead coyotes by their legs like they used to in the Old West? – and demonstrate its commitment to public safety.

“The problem is the population is out of control, and it has created a public-safety issue for our community,” the Post quotes City Manager Jim Sanderson. “We are not trying to eliminate all coyotes.”

Sorry, Mr. Sanderson, but it doesn’t work that way. I’m guessing that somewhere in your packet of materials about “coyotes being more aggressive,” you missed the dirty secret about killing coyotes to “control” them. “Coyotes are ‘compensatory breeders,’ that’s what the research says,” the Post quotes Jennifer Churchill, a Colorado Division of Wildlife spokeswoman. “When the population gets knocked back they will indeed create more coyotes.”

What this means is that coyotes, when faced with a threat to their population, will compensate for their loss, in this case by producing more pups and litters. The federal government knows this, yet it financially supports Wildlife Services, a euphemistic name for an agency that uses tax dollars to kill hundreds of thousands of animals — coyotes, foxes, birds, you name it — in the guise of protecting “agriculture, health, property and health and safety,” continues its wasteful, destructive ways, shooting thousands of coyotes from airplanes. In the last twenty years nine shooters and pilots have died and 34 others injured doing this.

All this “management,” and yet coyotes are flourishing. This is dirty secret number two about coyotes. Fact is, humans have been trying to eradicate coyotes since Europeans first settled in the New World. Our species came close to eliminating wolves and grizzly bears from the lower 48 (along with collateral animals like lynx) by using guns, traps and finally poison. But after several centuries, the coyotes are clearly winning

That’s the other dirty secret about coyote: As an adaptable species, it is infinitely superior to humans. Ever wonder why the coyote in literature is known as the Trickster? Coyotes find plenty to eat and enough good habitat to live and breed alongside us, even because of us. They are an active, integral part of our eco-systems.

There are plenty of proactive ways to deal with coyotes. Teach citizens to secure trash and control companion animals, to chase off coyotes and other wildlife off when you see them, to not feed wild animals) But instead of teaching human responsibility, Greenwood Village, under the guise of protecting the children, embarks on a the Wild West management plan: Killing animals and using cruel methods to do so.

And next year at this time, there will be less money in the Greenwood Village coffers, continued, perhaps increasing incidental run-ins with humans — and, just as the DOW spokeswoman indicated, more coyotes!! Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Photo: Life magazine 1941

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