Wildlife Hysteria: Nova Scotia’s War on Coyotes

courtesy of The Chronicle Herald
by Billy MacDonald and David Orton

In Nova Scotia, coyotes are designated “other harvestable wildlife” and can be shot or otherwise killed year-round with no “bag limit.” There is also an NDP government-initiated, subsidized trapping program, through a “pelt-incentive” of $20 per dead coyote, for licensed trappers.

We are informed that coyotes seen near communities — for example, around schools — “are to be captured and killed.” A Department of Natural Resources press release of Jan. 21, 2011, states: “More than 800 coyote pelts have been shipped to market this season, a 51 per cent increase over the same period last season.” Government media releases have spoken of aiming to kill 4,000 coyotes!

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One thought on “Wildlife Hysteria: Nova Scotia’s War on Coyotes

  1. Re: Article “Wildlife hysteria: Nova Scotia’s war on coyotes.

    The authors of this article, Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Orton, attempt to justify
    deficiencies in controlling predator animals by pointing out deficiencies in
    the control of domestic animals.

    They correctly suggest that a person would have a greater chance of a dog
    bite then coming across a coyote in Pleasant Park in Halifax. However, if
    dogs were required to have a muzzle on them while in the park that would no
    longer be the case. They ask the question if we eliminate all the dogs in a
    neighbourhood if the mailman gets bitten. The obvious answer is no, but that
    does not mean that the dog would not be put down and every effort be made to
    prevent the future occurrences of such an event.

    The authors ask us to accept the fact that coyotes are “wild ” and humans
    need to adapt to this, but this is exactly what is being done. The fact that
    coyotes are in their words “an evolving and extremely adaptable species”
    should lead any reasonable person to conclude that we humans need to control
    that evolution and adaption to the point that we eliminate, as much as
    possible, any aggressive responses they may have to humans.

    That control cannot be achieved with the authors’ totally unrealistic notion
    that we adopt a “non-dominant” relationship with coyotes. Primarily
    scavengers, coyotes are none the less predators. To suggest we not attempt
    to bring them under control is not only naive, it is potentially dangerous.

    Of all the predators on the planet humans are the most dangerous and
    efficient. To suggest we be anything otherwise is not only unnatural, it
    imperils us. The primary question we must ask in this case is what the
    purpose of a bounty on coyotes is. The provincial NDP government has been
    under pressure to rectify the problem and allay concerns about public
    safety. Best evidence, accepted by both sides of the argument, has it that
    coyotes are extremely capable of reproducing at a rate that would easily
    replenish any losses that occur from human predation. Given that, the
    government has inadequately defended their policy. Preservationist arguments
    like the one given by Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Orton flourish in such a vacuum.

    Both sides have missed the elephant in the room. The most important concern
    for any prey species is survival. The primary agent required for that
    survival is fear. It is common knowledge that coyotes rarely attack humans,
    what is less commonly considered is why that is the case. Fear, while not
    necessarily the only cause is the most significant factor. Black bears have
    been hunted for centuries in Nova Scotia. They resultantly have a healthy
    fear of humans. The same can be said of any predator- prey relationship even
    if the prey is a predator, as is the case with coyotes.

    In so much as a bounty helps to increase that fear, it is useful. However,
    that bounty has resulted in far fewer coyotes meeting their end that those
    that fall during regular licensed hunting seasons where a hunter brings home
    a coyote while not setting out to do so. There are cheaper and more
    effective ways of instilling fear in coyotes then a trapper bounty. Predator
    calling is practiced in a wide number of jurisdictions. The DNR has a ready
    source of road kill that can be utilized in such instances, if they wish to
    promote the practice.

    Given the coyotes resilience there is a widely acknowledged acceptance that
    the species will continue to inhabit the province in large numbers
    regardless of what humans throw at them. That in itself is not the problem.
    How they interact with humans while they are here is. Regardless of the
    situation, the imperative is that humans come out on top in every instance.
    Given the model laid out by the authors that outcome would be placed in
    serious doubt.

    Al Muir, Stellarton,Nova Scotia

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