Wildlife

Some states now advocate coexistence with–rather than killing of–coyotes

By Erica Cirino

In an opinion piece for the Cape Cod Times earlier this month, Carl Safina and I wrote about coexisting with coyotes—as millions of people in fact do. We juxtaposed a Cape Cod coyote-killing contest against a San Francisco newspaper deliveryman who every morning gives a particular coyote their own paper. That coyote had been taking a paper to play with each morning from one of the driveways on the block. Giving the coyote a paper solved the problem for the deliveryman, the subscriber, and the coyote.

And now Albuquerque New Mexico agrees with the information we highlighted which shows that killing coyotes has various downsides and doesn’t even reduce coyote density.  This week, Albuquerque’s City Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning coyote killing contests and asking for a statewide ban on this cruel practice. The resolution urges the New Mexico legislature to prohibit “contests organized, arranged or sponsored for the purpose of killing coyotes for prizes or entertainment.”

Coyote, Lake City, Colorado, between Slumgullion Pass and Creede. Photo: Larry1732 (Wikimedia Commons)

At the hearing, wildlife biologist Dave Parsons—who is also a science advisory board member of Project Coyote, a nonprofit which advocates for the encouraging respect for the U.S.’s native carnivore population—testified before the Albuquerque City Council. “Many respected wildlife experts agree that there is no scientific justification for coyote killing contests and no proven wildlife management benefit,” said Parsons. “These contests are antithetical to modern wildlife management principles. It is well past time to end this unethical practice.”

If the New Mexico legislature passes a bill, it would become the third U.S. state to outlaw the killing contests. California passed a ban in 2014, and Vermont just passed a ban this year. While coyotes occasionally have minor run-ins with pets, people and livestock, more often than not these animals choose not to interact with human lives.

Coyote on the McCormick Ranch Golf Course at sunrise. Photo: Dru Bloomfield (Flickr)

However, the states that allow coyote-killing contests vastly outnumber those that have prohibited the practice. One of the reasons is due to the incorrect notion that mass-killing coyotes and other so-called “nuisance” predator animals is an effective way of reducing run-ins. This notion is so engrained in the American psyche that even some wildlife managers are in support of killing contests. This year the State of Georgia opened up its own coyote-killing contest with a prize of a lifetime hunting license, calling the contest an “educational effort.”

We applaud states like California, Vermont, and—hopefully soon—New Mexico, which have recognized that the best available science shows coexisting with predator animals—rather than killing them—is the most effective, and peaceful, kind of management strategy.

Ecologist Carl Safina is author of seven books, including the best-selling “Beyond Words; What Animals Think and Feel,” and “Song for the Blue Ocean,” which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. His writing has won a MacArthur “genius” prize; Pew and Guggenheim Fellowships; book awards from Lannan, Orion, and the National Academies; and the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, CNN.com and elsewhere, and he hosted the 10-part “Saving the Ocean” on PBS. Safina is founding president of The Safina Center at Stony Brook University.
  • Lindsay Bates

    A discussion with a Georgia biostitute at the start of last year’s contest yielded the following factoid: apparently if a nursing mother is killed, the remaining pack members (males included) will begin lactating to care for the orphaned pups.

    These “wildlife stewards” are morons.

  • Sammy Law

    Here in Vancouver, BC, we’ve been co-existing with coyote for a long time. This is one of the busiest and most populated areas of the province amd the coyote thrive. Do pet owners lose cats to coyote? Absolutely, but that’s their choice when they let them roam free. The dangers are tremendously higher here for a domestic cat than in a tree lined small town. They have one predator to deal with and countless ways to die living in such dense human infrastructure.
    The Stanley Park Ecological Society has been studying our coyote for a long while now and are heavily engaged in public education and co-existing with coyotes.
    Coyotes keep invasive rat species at bay and generally stick to themselves. Some are brazen but brazen because of human interaction.
    I grew up in a small town in Ontario. There were more wolves than coyotes. It wasn’t until I moved to the city that I regularly saw coyotes. Let’s all just take a moment amd marvel at their ability to live and to thrive in nearly any circumstance. Wolves would not survive in the city but get all the glory in public perception and funding efforts. Let’s not take from the wolves to give to the coyotes but instead broaden our scope of compassion and toughen our efforts for a change in animal protection laws.
    Signed….an Animal Control Officer 🙂

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

Social Media