Coyotes need human and scientific solutions to potential conflicts A Humane World

The crux of the matter is this: coyotes live among us, and efforts to kill and depopulate are not effective solutions to conflicts with them, in the short or long term. Spondylolithesis / iStock.com

There is an aggressive group of anti-coyote propagandists emerging in many communities, as a recent article in the Los Angeles Times on the presence of coyotes in a dozen localities in California suggests so. The belligerence of these propagandists and their disdain for best practices in managing the presence of coyotes in urban and suburban communities should concern us all.

The crux of the matter is this: coyotes live among us, and efforts to kill and depopulate are not effective solutions to conflicts with them, in the short or long term. Kill coyotes, science suggests, and you’ll have as many in a year or two. It is a common principle in population biology that when coyotes are removed from viable habitat, other coyotes will find it and begin living there. Research also suggests that when aggressively controlled, coyotes can increase their reproductive rate, breeding at an earlier age and having larger litters, with a higher survival rate in young. This allows coyote populations to rebound quickly, even when up to 70% of their numbers are suppressed.

None of us would deny the importance of ensuring public safety and taking sensible steps to minimize human-coyote contact and potential conflict. But waging war on coyotes (and other wildlife) is never the solution. A new and better approach is needed in many communities where wild animals live in close proximity to humans. It is based on coexistence and intelligent interventions, greater public awareness and understanding, responsible care and management of domestic animals, and other measures to minimize the potential for harm to all residents, human and non-human.

This worldview does not distinguish humans and animals from each other; rather, it acknowledges the presence of animals in our lives and encourages tolerance. It emphasizes the need for a deeper understanding of coyote behavior and biology, and it does not rely on a “they don’t belong here” perspective that calls for eradication. Instead, it relies on human ingenuity and goodwill, finding ways to understand, interpret, and control coyote behavior and recognizing when we need to modify our own behavior to prevent conflict first. venue.

Successful coexistence requires that we do our best to address risk factors in our communities and home environments. In many cities and towns, community management plans guide the response, and government and non-government entities educate residents on how to avoid or minimize contact with coyotes, by not feeding them, keeping tightly closed garbage cans, never leaving pet food outside. and picking up fallen fruit from their trees, and hazing (using deterrence to reshape behavior) any coyotes that seem to be too comfortable among humans. In Manhattan Beach, for example, authorities are using door hangers to educate residents, and the city’s app now features a coyote-sighting category.

Our responsibility to the pets in our care is an important part of an effective response, and it is likely that some of the attacks described in the Time article and other reports could be avoided with preventative measures such as keeping cats indoors and dogs on a leash when out and about.

It’s hard not to see this anger and penchant for killing coyotes as part of a larger demonization of the species. Over the past five years, through its Wildlife Services division, the United States Department of Agriculture has killed more than 60,000 coyotes annually as part of its predator management programs. Additionally, countless thousands of coyotes are targeted in wild animal killing contests – callous, cowardly and violent in the extreme. In an attempt to capture the full range of human-related coyote deaths, Dan Flores in his 2016 book coyote americaplaced the number of coyotes killed each year (by government agencies, members of the public, killing contests, hunting, trapping, and human-wildlife conflict managers) at 500,000.

We are working to reform a number of these practices and, in the case of wildlife slaughter competitions, to end them altogether. As long as they thrive, they will fuel the antagonism that drives the killing of coyotes in communities not just in California, but across the country. We cannot let a few highly biased individuals and interest groups undermine successful approaches to wildlife management and conflict resolution based on science, creative response and a nuanced understanding of wildlife behavior.

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