More About Coyotes

Upstate Outdoors
January 19, 2018 - 11:01 am
Categories: 

Phillip Gentry

Coyotes have been in the news a lot over the last several years as human/coyote encounters are on the rise. These encounters are not just occurring in remote wilderness areas but increased sightings are being reported around suburban neighborhoods, which is one reason why they end up in the mainstream media. 

Earlier this week, the State newspaper ran an op-ed article penned by Kimberly Kelly, the SC Director of the Humane Society of the United States. The caption supplied with the short video that accompanies the online version of the article asks “How much do you know about coyotes?”

After viewing the video and reading Ms. Kelly’s opinioned article, anyone who has spent any time dealing with coyotes in real life draws the conclusion that Ms. Kelly should answer the question with “Not much”.

The article, entitled “Stop! Don’t Shoot That Coyote” extols the virtues this non-native species has on overall wildlife health while admonishing the actions of wildlife management practices for reducing coyote numbers as cruel and ineffective. 

Coyotes are not the innocent creatures portrayed in Ms. Kelly’s article. In fact, coyotes are subject to canine distemper, parvo, hepatitis, mange, and rabies. Coyotes also harbor a variety of parasites such as fleas, ticks, worms, and flukes and can spread these diseases to domestic animals.

Further the article flies in the face of years of research that has pointed to increased coyote numbers as a leading cause of reduced deer and turkey populations particularly during the young-rearing periods of these game animals.

A wave of pseudo-science has proliferated lately suggesting that coyotes are capable of magically increasing or reducing their numbers to adjust for predation control measures. This thought process is aimed to demean the efforts of trapping and hunting coyotes and even takes a stab at several harvest programs endorsed by Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina state wildlife agencies to encourage hunters to hunt coyotes. 

In truth, any wildlife will compensate for a reduction in their numbers over time. What this means is that predator control is not a “one-and-done” solution to the coyote infestation that has occurred. These programs need to be instituted and maintained in order to keep coyote numbers in check.

The spread of coyotes has been traced to two factors, a natural increase in migratory ranges by the animals themselves and importing of coyotes by trappers and sold to fox hunting clubs. Surprisingly, the practice of trapping live coyotes and foxes and selling them to permitted fox hunting clubs for release and pursuit is still legal. While this may or may not increase overall numbers of coyotes, it does lend to the continued spread of the animals.

The article concludes bemoaning the inhumanness of trapping devices and methods. The insinuation of razor sharp, spiked jawed traps used for predator trapping is simple incorrect. State trapping and fur harvest regulations specifically state which devices are legal for trapping pertaining to trap size and placement.

With regard to the reference of poison usage, the use of any poison to attempt to control coyotes is a violation of both Federal and State law. The use of poison indiscriminately kills other wildlife and pets, and may be fatal to humans that come in contact with the substance.

Speaking from personal experience having done a fair amount of trapping, I am amazed at the gripping power of the smooth-edge foot-hold traps used in coyote trapping while causing no damage to the animal. Having incidentally captured over a dozen domestic dogs whose owners were in violation of leash laws, every dog was returned safe and un-harmed to the owner, though each one received an earful for allowing their dogs to roam free on my property. 

In addition, recent regulations have been instituted allowing a broader range of hunting capabilities for hunters who intend to pursue predators. These include legal night hunting, the use of electronic calls, and registration and licensing of hunters and lands to be hunted or trapped.

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Phillip Gentry is the host of “Upstate Outdoors,” broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. Saturdays on 106.3 WORD FM. Online broadcasts and recorded podcasts of the show can be found at www.1063word.com 

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Despite false and half-truth campaigns deployed by animal rights groups, predator control of coyotes, a non-native species to the southern United States, remains the most effective measure for reducing numbers of these animals and protecting native wildlife. Photo by Phillip Gentry

   

 

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