Monday, September 13, 2010

Coyote Calling

Pardon my rant. But rant I must.

I recently found out about a contest to hunt coyotes that will take place not too far from where I live (keeping in mind that distances are on a different dimension out here, anything within 100 miles 'isn't too far'). The goal of the contest is during one day kill as many coyotes as you can.

The supposed reason for the contest?
"Contest Purpose – to reduce the Coyote population in prime wild life habitats and to raise money for future projects sponsored by the Mule Deer Foundation Bristlecone Chapter"

Whoa, there. Did I miss something, or aren't coyotes also considered wildlife?

And is the Mule Deer Foundation really sponsoring this? I would have thought that a big, national organization would show a little more compassion.

I figured maybe I was just getting worked up because I usually try to protect all native species, and maybe I needed to get a different perspective. So I asked my husband what he thought about the contest.

He said, "I hope they don't hunt around here. We need those coyotes to eat the gophers that are out in the fields."

There you go. An ecologist's view and a rancher's view. We find that we agree most of the time, although our reasoning may be different.

I know that many in the sheep industry approve and support predator control. There is still a predator control guy who spends months in our valley trapping and poisoning coyotes before the sheep come in the winter. And there are low-flying planes that shoot coyotes.

But none of it makes much of a difference. Every year there are about as many coyotes as the year before. According to the website Predator Defense, the alpha coyote male and female are the only ones to breed, but if they are killed, then lots more coyotes breed. Apparently deer are only susceptible to being killed by coyotes for a few weeks in the spring, when the fawns are very small, but the rest of the time coyotes don't eat deer. Plus the deer populations are really high anyway (take a look at our feed yard to see that!).

So I don't like this coyote contest. It's going to go on regardless of how I feel about it, but I just need to write about it because it bothers me.

Okay, I feel better now. A little.


The Incredible Woody said...

Wow! It is really amazing at how stupid people are!!

Anonymous said...

"In those days we had never heard of passing up a chance to kill a wolf. In a second we were pumping lead into the pack, but with more excitement than accuracy; how to aim a steep downhill shot is always confusing. When our rifles were empty, the old wolf was down, and a pup was dragging a leg into impassable side-rocks.

We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because fewer wolves meant more deer, that no wolves would mean hunters' paradise. But after seeing the green fire die, I sensed that neither the wolf nor the mountain agreed with such a view.

* * *

Since then I have lived to see state after state extirpate its wolves. I have watched the face of many a newly wolfless mountain, and seen the south-facing slopes wrinkle with a maze of new deer trails. I have seen every edible bush and seedling browsed, first to anaemic desuetude, and then to death. I have seen every edible tree defoliated to the height of a saddlehorn. Such a mountain looks as if someone had given God a new pruning shears, and forbidden Him all other exercise. In the end the starved bones of the hoped-for deer herd, dead of its own too-much, bleach with the bones of the dead sage, or molder under the high-lined junipers."

Leopold, Aldo: A Sand County Almanac, and Sketches Here and There, 1948, Oxford University Press, New York, 1987, pp. 129-132.

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