The author of a new book on coyote history is sure to draw different reactions.
Recently Dan Flores released a book he penned titled "Coyote America; A Natural and Supernatural History." In the book Flores takes an in depth look at coyote history in America as far back as the species is believed to have migrated to the continent.
Flores also sat down with the folks at National Geographic to discuss the content of his new book.
In the interview Flores demonstrates a solid understanding of the coyote as a species, as well as their unique history. In fact, he points out several interesting facts many people may not know.
Most seasoned coyote hunters are already aware coyotes will adjust litter size according to population densities, use vocalizations extensively in their lives, and have very recently begun a migration into the eastern woodlands of our nation. Flores also offers up lesser known information about coyotes such as the history of the word coyote, their supernatural past in indigenous cultures, and information on historical programs to manage their populations.
Flores seems to be a very competent individual with a great deal of knowledge about the species. However in the interview he comes across as against management of coyote populations. The interview never really addresses any of the positives of managing coyote populations.
Here are a few things to consider after reading the Flores interview:
1. Predation Situation
For starters, coyotes are predators. This is a fact of life and can't be denied. When the topic is addressed in the interview Flores says "Coyotes actually ate rodents, rabbits, fruit, all sorts of vegetables, some carrion, and mice, but had almost no impact whatsoever on the large game animals." In the quote he is sourcing studies done in the 1930s, and appears to be hinting that coyotes don't actually eat the large game animals humans hunt.
More recent studies on coyotes in the eastern woodlands have different evidence about the impact of coyotes. One study monitored 91 young fawns over a period of three years. In that three-year period, 70 fawns that were part of the study died. The number one cause of death? Coyotes.
Researchers definitively proved coyotes killed 37% of fawns, and believe up to 80% of deaths may have been attributed to coyote predation. Simply put, coyotes kill deer fawns. This isn't news to our hunting community.
2. "Hate" is a strong word
Throughout the interview coyotes are portrayed as a sort of persecuted scapegoat who has been wrongly accused. While coyotes may not deserve eradication, they certainly must be managed.
While there are a number of reasons for predator management, one reason is simply for human safety. In 2009 a young Canadian woman was actually killed by coyotes in a Canadian National Park. Where I live in Nebraska, most people simply wouldn't believe that could happen. Why? When we see coyotes they are running headlong the other direction.
Hunting coyotes not only helps to manage their predator impact, but also helps to instill a fear of man. In a culture where more people increasingly see cartoons and movies portraying animals as people, and the populations of predators are swelling, we can't dispel the fact that they are predators who can alter the populations of other animals.
3. The final point to consider is Flores' comments about learning to cohabitate with the species. At the end of the interview there appears to be a push for simply "learning to co-exist with them." To me, this is a message to stop all trapping and hunting practices of coyotes.
Sure, coyotes provide benefits to an ecosystem like every animal does. However just letting them run wild will lead to problems. In fact there are many cities tired of living with coyotes and trapping efforts have picked up. It seems like common sense, but can't be forgotten.
Just let a few pets get nabbed, kids get attacked and possibly killed, and soon enough the cohabitation hogwash should find the door.
Like it or not, coyotes seem likely to survive a nuclear war along with cockroaches and feral cats. Coyote history has proven we can hunt and trap coyotes to our hearts content and they'll still be around. They are an extremely adaptable species who have withstood the test of time.
Personally, I fall into the category of people who hunt and trap coyotes during the winter months, but would still feel differently if their lonesome song didn't echo across the prairie.
I'm not in favor of eradicating the species, but certainly not in favor of just "co-existing." Like most things, the middle ground appears to be favorable.