Great photo of an amazing predator: Northern Alberta coyote, by ru 24 real on Flickr. [Click to embiggen.]
It's coyotes in the news week here in Bloglandia. A round-up of the good, the bad and the ugly:
The bad would have to be news of 18,000 coyotes killed by hunters in five months, brought to you by the Saskatchewan, Canada bounty program. Just cut off the paws and collect $20 per animal, and if it's easier to kill a few dozen coyotes in neighboring Alberta and chop their feet off and dump their bodies in front of someone's farm, well, keep in mind that there's a fine for littering. Littering is bad! [Photo of the carcasses by Rick Price, who wasn't anticipating a truckload of dead coyotes when he set off to photograph local wildlife last week.] Trevor Herriot has more about the consequences, intended and unintended, of coyote control here, on his excellent Grass Notes blog.
The ugly: that would be the let's-all-shudder-at-a-hick-and-his-dogs article by Juliet Macur of the NY Times. Quote: "Dogfighting became a felony in all 50 states in 2008, in no small part because of Michael Vick, the N.F.L. star who went to prison a year earlier for his involvement in a dogfighting ring." Seriously, that's an actual quote from the article. It's inaccurate, and of course dogfighting is actually nothing like hunting coyotes with greyhounds, but whatever. I really, really, really hate Macur's lazy mash-up of ignorance and condescension. I don't think it's journalism — it's just crappy writing.
By way of contrast, consider how Ms. Macur might have gotten along with the folks at the Master of Fox Hounds Association’s seminar, which brings us to the good:
In the months leading up to the Master of Fox Hounds Association’s biennial hunt staff seminar, we’d already heard a lot about Dr. Stanley Gehrt and his urban coyote presentation. He’d done this presentation at an MFHA meeting in January that had everyone talking, so we were especially curious to hear it ourselves. And, boy, was it worth the price of admission.Read the whole thing — a fine and fascinating read — over at Full Cry: A Hound Blog. Definitely beats suffering through a 1200-word mock-the-Okie piece in the NY Times.
Gehrt is an assistant professor and extension wildlife specialist at Ohio State University. His urban coyote study in Chicago started in 2000 and is the longest-running coyote research project in North America. Using radio tracking collars, the study has followed 440 coyotes in 10 packs and revealed fascinating details about their lives, including how they form packs, which ones don’t pack up, how they develop their territories, what they hunt, and how they adapt to living in an urban environment. The results, as presented in his lecture “Uncovering Truths and Debunking Myths about City Coyotes,” were eye-opening.
MFHA hunt staff seminar, part 3: The Old Guns