THE CULTURE OF COYOTE KILLING
"I am Coyote"
by Geri Vistein
"Coyote and her mate stood in the early summer night, illuminated by the magical moonlight... Their faces reached to the glowing sky, eyes mirroring the light of the moon with them, and they began their longing howls and joyful yips and their voices twirling in and out of the each other's spiraling higher and higher toward the moon. Their song filled the night air and traveled through the forests and streams into the highest treetops, echoing from mountain peak to mountain peak and back again, that all might hear it. All life felt it, and the mountains remembered it."
Coyotes are the most persecuted species in Wisconsin. (See 2019-2020 legislative bills AB29/SB30) Brutally terrorized and mercilessly killed by hound dogs, hound dog hunters, bowhunters, hunters with high-powered equipment, trapped and killed for profit and live-trapped to be used in captive wildlife training pens. Often times they are trapped and illegally moved across state lines for use as live bait. Even coyote killing contests are conducted throughout the state during the winter months. They are an "unprotected" species and the state agency has no idea how many are killed each year. Coyote killing is a recreational activity provided by our WDNR.
Hound dogs are used to track and kill coyotes as well as the use of predator calling devices. Regulations state that hound dogs are not allowed to come into contact w/ wild animals but in reality hound dogs get to the coyote before hunters can arrive as hound dogs run unleashed and hunters are often times miles away. Canid against canid fighting occurs and eventually the dogs kill the coyote. Since this form of recreation is unregulated it is difficult to estimate how many coyotes are outright killed by the hound dogs alone. One reformed coyote hound hunter estimates that 50% of the coyotes are killed by hound dogs. Many photos of dead coyotes w/ wet and mangled necks indicate that packs of hound dogs have attacked and killed the coyote.
Coyote killing is a danger to the Wisconsin public as well. A Rusk County, WI man was killed in his own yard in March of 2015 by a group of coyote hound hunters. Rural residents often experience hound dogs and hunters trespassing on their property and experience intimidation in the process. Personal testimony shows that many rural residents live in fear of bullets, hound dogs and their hunters.
For those that subscribe to the myth that we need to kill coyotes to control their numbers, see HSUS's "Why killing coyotes doesn't work" ."Research has shown that female coyotes will produce larger litters when there is little competition, and smaller litters when there is a high density of coyotes in the habitat. This is also why indiscriminate killing of coyotes to decrease their density doesn't work as a management strategy. Coyotes repopulate an area quickly and easily when competition is eliminated, with the population rebounding or even expanding in a very short time." When an entire pack is exterminated, migrating individual coyotes move in who may have experience w/ killing livestock having had to survive on their own. Thus, stable intact packs are important to maintain on a landscape. Go to Project Coyote to learn about coyote ecology, coexistence, current politics of USDA killing programs, research and much more. Wisconsin's very own Dr. Adrian Treves of the Carnivore Coexistence Lab in Madison is a scientific board member of Project Coyote as well.
In reality, Coyotes are an invaluable part of a healthy ecosystem. Coyotes mate for life and lovingly rear their young together in families (packs). They control rodents, which supports management of ticks and Lyme diseases-carrying hosts, control insects, and remove carrion whereby eliminating disease. Coyotes also eat fruit, vegetation and keep ecosystems vital, healthy and clean. Coyotes may also help to limit the feral cat population, thereby reducing bird predation. They fill a valuable niche in our ecosystem and deserve respect and admiration for this alone.
League of Humane Voters - Wisconsin Chapter would like to help increase awareness of coyotes in Wisconsin and ultimately promote legislation to reduce the killing of these important creatures on our landscape.