The Woolwich Observer

Can we stop killing coyotes?

- Connie Rodgers

To the Editor,

Every year a group of hunters and their dogs descend, loudly, multiple times, on the small ribbon of bush behind our property north of Elmira. This is not an uncommon rural activity, apparently.

The goal? To kill all the coyotes.

The coyotes’ crime? Nothing, just being there.

Coyotes are considered one of nature’s ‘clean-up crew.’ They eat road kill and other perished animals, as well as rodents, birds, rabbits and other small animals. Small animals that would otherwise spend a lot of time eating…farmers crops, for one thing, or robbing birds’ nests of all the eggs for another. All are part of the balance of nature, and a loss of one causes an imbalance of another, or others.

Coyotes form close family bonds and mate for life. Pups are born in latespring to the dominant pair, and only the dominant pair of the family breeds. The pups may leave in the fall season and find their own territory, or they may stay and help with next year’s pups. A typical family territory covers 10-20 square kilometres, and other coyotes are generally kept outside of this area by the family.

Coyotes are shy by nature. During my 20 years of living here and walking the bush almost daily or nightly with my dog, I have never even seen a coyote, though I know they are there or pass through.

A common reason given by hunters when killing coyotes is the threat of predation by coyotes of our pets or small farm animals. It is our responsibi­lity to properly house the animals we care for to keep them safe, and follow practices (like dead animal disposal) that prevent us inadverten­tly providing easy meals for any wildlife. This is the biggest cause of conflict with wildlife and it is our responsibi­lity to prevent it from happening.

Similar to TNR programs and the science for minimizing feral cat colonies, random or widespread culling of coyotes has not been found effective at controllin­g/reducing coyote population­s. In fact, hunting has been shown to even increase the population because when family members are killed, family structures are broken, often resulting in chaotic, increased breeding.

There are no, or very few regulation­s protecting coyotes in Ontario. The fate of coyotes and our natural landscapes are currently in the hands of hunters and landowners that grant permission to them.

Can we stop killing the coyotes in Woolwich Township and instead respect their place in nature?

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