Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations
From Killing Coyotes 101: “Don’t be squeamish about killing juvenile coyotes,” advises the text beneath a photo of a grown man grinning over a dead pup. “They will be practicing their hunting skills on your turkey poults, deer fawns, pigglets [sic] and livestock if you let them. so [sic] kill them when you can.”
If that seems harsh, keep in mind that it’s all in God’s design:
The Creator in His infinite wisdom made the coyote a ruthless, heartless, killing machine that is extremely suspicious and careful. … There are few more despicable creatures than the coyote, so you should never be afraid to hunt them in what we would normally think of as an “unsporting manner.”
~Killing Coyotes 101
But even despicable creatures have their price. A king-size coyote fur comforter (comforter–oh the bitter irony of that word!) is offered for sale at the special price of $5495.00, reduced from $6495.00. The luxurious fur of 20-some animals (my estimate from photo) cascades to the floor, starkly illustrating how Canis latrans is valued by some (punctuation/capitalization as appears on the website):
Coyote Fur Comforter 90×105. All fur, full pelt, (not pieces,) … Select Quality Extra Heavily Furred Pale Coyotes from North Eastern Montana. These are the Best Coyotes in the United States. Locally Called Highline Coyotes, because they come from the Montana/Canadian Border. Made just like a quilt with batting between layers. Backed with Satin. (All sizes are approx.) MADE IN USA. ~Source: Glacier Wear
While pricey fur bedspreads are an elite niche market (as well as flagrant commercialization of wildlife), they’re far removed from the ranks of varmint hunters and trappers out to kill “yotes.” No love is lost on predators–especially wily ones like coyotes–judging from the number of predator “derby” competitions. It’s as if there’s a special, intense hatred of coyotes because they dare to be smart–perhaps smarter than their stalkers. So the killers turn to decoys and technological gadgetry–electronic calling devices (video)–and even bait to lure them in. Don’t forget that principled advice from Killing Coyotes 101: never be afraid to hunt them in what we would normally think of as an “unsporting manner.” They deserve to die!
While killing competitions are nothing new–they’ve just been skulking in the shadows like other morally-challenged pursuits–they’re coming under increasing scrutiny and media attention. So now organizers often attempt to legitimize the bloodlust as necessary:
“Coyotes have established large populations in every state and are becoming trouble for domestic pets, livestock and people. … The overpopulation of coyotes has also taken a severe toll on wildlife in many areas. Coyote damage has prompted the interest in contests to manage populations with an estimated 500 calling contests held nationwide” (Fallon Co. Times, MT).
But this goes against current scientific knowledge about coyote social structure and reproduction. Research suggests that:
…when aggressively controlled, coyotes can increase their reproductive rate by breeding at an earlier age and having larger litters, with a higher survival rate among young. This allows coyote populations to quickly bounce back, even when as much as 70 percent of their numbers are removed (source).
This is also why bounties don’t work. I impulsively picked up a free copy of the “Montana Hunting & Fishing News” for December and found a poorly-written piece titled “Predator control works in Utah: More states should follow.” It’s not available online so I can’t link to it, but the gist is this: Utah’s Predator Control Program offered hunters and trappers a $50 per animal bounty, reaping 7160 coyotes in the program’s first year. The blood money incentive resulted in an estimated 3000 to 4800 more dead coyotes than normally would have been killed. Here’s the take-away, according to Hunting & Fishing News:
Although it may be to [sic] soon to accurately determine it’s [sic] effect on wildlife, common sense would tell us that less [sic] coyotes means more deer for the future. More deer hunting opportunities will result in an increase in hunter participation, thus creating more revenue for communities everywhere.
You can always rely on the Dynamic Duo of speciesism and capitalism to value animals’ lives solely on their perceived disadvantage or benefit to humans and their ability to cash in. Ka-ching!
If you were naive, you’d think that state wildlife management agencies would put an end to killing contests–not only because they’re indiscriminate, unscientific, and ineffective, but also because debasing native wildlife species is nothing to promote and creates a vigilante mindset. Surely the resulting malice exacts a societal cost. Says conservative author Matthew Scully: “Cruelty is less a vice in its own right than it is a cost exacted by other vices — greed and arrogance, just to start with. Victims of cruelty are the wreckage left by selfish desire.” (A 70-year-old coyote defender was allegedly assaulted by a killing contest sponsor in Modoc County, CA just a few days ago. Violence begets violence.)
But science and sanity don’t prevail, as Utah’s bounty illustrates. In Idaho, two wilderness wolf packs were recently exterminated by the state to increase elk production. New Mexico’s “game” commission chair kills for cash. Here in Montana, MT Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) condones gratuitous slaughter, offering guidelines on a page sickeningly titled, “Recreational Shooting of Predators.” (Coyotes can also be trapped/snared year-round–no license required for state residents.) If one wonders how this self-serving system sustains itself, here’s just one glimpse into how the deck is stacked: according to his “about” page, the purveyor of that coyote fur comforter serves on his regional FWP Citizens Advisory Committee.
But listen for rumblings of change. California’s Fish and Game Commission voted unanimously to consider a ban on hunting contests, with one commissioner commenting that contests “seem inconsistent both with ethical standards of hunting and our current understanding of the important role predators play in ecosystems.”
While the price of a king-size coyote fur comforter is high–not only to the purchaser, but especially to those who suffer in traps and pay with their lives–the cost is much broader and weightier and can’t be measured in anything so concrete as dollars. There’s the cost to ecological integrity. On the human front, there’s the cost that results in a diminished ethical bank account: dwindling stores of compassion and justice, depleted funds of morality–a hemorrhaging of simple generosity and accommodation. It’s a shared account, and we all bear the cost.
- Two published, scientific papers on the biological mechanisms for why killing coyotes doesn’t work can be found here.
- “Killing Coyote” High Plains Films, 83 min. documentary; watch trailer here.
- “Pro-Life, Pro-Animal” by Matthew Scully is here.
- “The ecological role of coyotes, bears, mountain lions, and wolves,” Predator Defense
- “Coyote hunting ‘dirt naps'” – watch this and tell me who the “ruthless, heartless, killing machines” are.