Coyote killing contests: Why they impact you
I have a sincere appreciation for wildlife that stems from my education and research, time spent in the wilderness, and a sense of duty to play my part as a steward. I have adopted the role of conservationist, and in my work I have come across a startling phenomenon: coyote killing contests.
These contests are operated by outdoor outfitters and organizations that distribute prize money and winnings to groups of hunters who kill the most coyotes. There are categories for other prizes, such as most pups killed and most pregnant females killed. Such contests are not limited to coyotes and often include foxes, bobcats, cougars and similar graceful predators.
Oftentimes greyhound rescues are recruited to these events to decoy coyotes out of hiding. Coyotes naturally defend their territory, and this results in injury to our domestic canid friends as well. Contest participants frequently leave their dogs out in the wild if unresponsive to a call back, or are injured.
There is no utility in these contests. The targeted animals aren't going to feed the families of honest hunters, but are discarded promptly. If people only understood the benefits that coyotes and other predators offer our communities, there would be legislative action in all 50 states by next Tuesday.
What coyotes do for us
It has been established in bigger cities, like Chicago, that decreases in local predators result in more pest complaints. Coyotes prey upon mice and other rodents that pose a direct threat to your home, and this makes them a useful ally. Also, they keep raccoon and opossum populations in check, which means that the songbirds you love to hear will be safe.
Established packs with an alpha male and female act as guardians for your community. These family packs are directed by the alphas who teach pups how to hunt, what to hunt and where to hunt, which is anywhere but your community! These territorial packs prevent transient coyotes from digging up garbage, preying on pets and posing a problem to your community.
It has been proven that indiscriminate killing of coyotes results in compensatory reproduction and eventual population increase. This occurs through unregulated mating after the extermination of alpha pairs.
With a rapid decrease in predator population comes a concomitant increase in prey animals: rabbits, deer and the like. These prey animals feed on the same forage as rancher's cattle, thus increasing competition for resources. This directly conflicts the interest of ranchers, considering that fewer than 0.5 percent of cattle losses are attributed to predation.
Check out this study on rabbits and bison for more info. Rather than posing a problem for ranchers, the scientific evidence suggests that coyotes are here to help!
Questioning the carnage
Considering all of this, I have questions for participants in these contests:
- Are you respecting the coyotes? Are you respecting the wildlife? Do they deserve respect? Do you deserve respect? Is there anything that doesn't deserve respect?
- Are you promoting a culture of life or a culture of death? Would you rather your child learn how to coexist peacefully with animals or to kill them indiscriminately?
- Is the coyote's incredible resiliency an excuse to kill without remorse or an indicator that it is incredibly important in the ecosystem?
- Are there better ways that you could be spending your time than killing coyotes? Have you researched the ways in which mass and indiscriminate killing of coyotes is counterproductive to the ends that ranchers desire? Did you know that the killing of pack animals who know how how to coexist with ranchers makes room for loners to come through who have yet to learn?
- Is there a better way for you to prove your skill in marksmanship? Could you possibly play a video game if you absolutely had to satisfy an urge for bloodlust? When you look back on this life, will you be proud to share a legacy of remorseless and senseless killing with your progeny?
- Could killing coyotes in droves possibly be a bad decision? Does your wife love you for how many coyotes you kill or does she love you for the lives you improve? Would your world come crashing to an end if you realized that killing coyotes wasn't the best use of your time?
- If you had to explain to a 5-year old child what you do with your spare time and why, would you be entirely comfortable? Are there any intelligent reasons for you to continue to kill coyotes that you can scientifically validate? Why do you think it is that the overwhelming majority of people vehemently oppose coyote killing contests?
If you were moved to explore deeper into the subject, don't hesitate to contact me. Please visit www.projectcoyote.org for insights and scientifically vetted information on these beautiful and important creatures.