November 17, 2009

Coyote news

Coyote at Canyon, by jrtchris on Flickr.

From prairie naturalist Trevor Herriot's Grass Notes comes word that the government of Saskatchewan is offering a $20 bounty on coyotes. An excerpt from Trevor's post:

The provincial Environment department has ecologists who know that this kind of measure does not stop coyotes from eating livestock. Our universities have biologists and ecologists who could explain what happens when bounty hunters start killing a predator like the coyote. As a “k-selected” species, the coyote regulates its population according to food supply and mortality rates.

If there is abundant food but adults are being killed, the survivors, who are also the more successful and wise, immediately increase the brood size and numbers of pregnant females within the pack. Trying to control coyote populations by killing them has been compared to bailing a boat with a sieve.
Then why the bounty? Trevor again:
An interesting sidelight on the coyote bounty: I have heard via the grapevine that some of the loudest complaints have come from sheep farmers north of the Qu’Appelle in the Cupar/Lipton area, where British farmers have moved in recent decades to set up farming [...] They are undoubtedly a welcome addition to the local farm community, but if they come from Scotland or England they arrive with a certain set of expectations and experiences — about wildlife and about the government’s role in making the land safe for farming.
Trevor's post reminds me of the well-known [to border collie people, anyway] description of the shepherd's dog in England, written by Johannes Caius 400 years ago:
Our shepherdes dogge is not huge, vaste, and bigge, but of an indifferent stature and growth, because it hath not to deale with the bloudthyrsty wolf, sythence there be none in England, which happy and fortunate benefite is to be ascribed to the puisaunt Prince Edgar, who to thintent ye the whole countrey myght be evacuated and quite clered from wolfes, charged & commaunded the welshemë (who were pestered with these butcherly beastes above measure) to paye him yearely tribute which was (note the wisedome of the King) three hundred Wolfes. Some there be which write that Ludwall Prince of Wales paide yeerly to King Edgar three hundred wolves in the name of an exaction (as we have sayd before.) And that by the meanes hereof, within the compasse and tearme of foure yeares none of those noysome, and pestilent Beastes were left in the coastes of England and Wales. This Edgar wore the Crown royall, and bare the Scepter imperiall of this kingdome, about the yeare of our Lorde nyne hundred fifty, nyne. Synce which time we reede that no Wolfe hath bene seene in England, bred within the bounds and borders of this countrey, mary there have bene divers brought over from beyonde the seas, for greedynesse of gaine and to make money, for gasing and gaping, staring, and standing to see them, being a straunge beast, rare, and seldom seene in England.
"... about the yeare of our Lorde nyne hundred fifty, nyne. Synce which time we reede that no Wolfe hath bene seene in England." All killed.

It gives me a certain satisfaction to know [with as much certainty as I know anything] that the coyote will escape that fate and dance on Man's grave at the end, bounty or no. Check out Camera Trap Codger's photo of the trickster: Coyote beautiful.

Coyotes at home and away


Chaz said...

But what's to be done about coyotes? When predators are in our backyards and on our farms, are we not supposed to control them?
I don't accept that we can't keep the population down by hunting them, since we've successfully reduced predator populations in the past by aggressive hunting and denial of habitat.
I like the predators, but I don't support letting wolf populations get so large that they kill people's dogs outside their back doors, or that coyotes get so bold that they're harvesting cats in my downtown neighborhood, which has happened in the last few years. Frankfort is a very country-like wooded town with lots of habitat for coyotes, and they take advantage of it. If hunting them is necessary to protect other animals and especially domestic animals, what's wrong with that? I'm interested to know why we shouldn't control them.

Chaz said...

Sorry to be contacting you again via this route - have another BC girl with pups needing rescue here in Kentucky, thought I'd pass it on to you - here's the URL at Petfinder -
You can reach me at if you want to give me an email address for this stuff, or to tell me not to do it again, or whatever - Thanks, hope you or your friends can help this girl - Charles

Luisa said...

Here's the border collie girl's direct link: click here. Thanks, Charles! She looks like my Lulu [another great dog from the pound]. Hope she finds a home soon.