I admire coyotes. That may not be a popular statement, as many people revile them. The reason I admire them so much is that they maintain healthy populations, despite the efforts of some to eradicate them. When I was a young teenager my sister and I were in the woods behind my parents’ house and we saw a coyote cross the ridge just below us. I was frightened, but it was amazing to be so close to a predator without a thick pane of glass separating us. They still make me a little nervous, being predators and all, but that is learned and not a result of logical thought.
In Vermont, coyotes can be hunted year round, with the only restriction being the use of lights. The reason coyotes maintain healthy populations when hunting pressure is applied is because they start producing larger litters to compensate for those deaths. According to L. Scott Mills in Conservation of Wildlife Populations, they also have higher first year reproduction, juvenile survival, and immigration rates to further bolster local populations experiencing exploitation. I admire that…thriving in the face of adversity.
Even some people who respect wolves hate coyotes. Which is kind of funny, given that they are genetically related to red wolves (Eastern coyotes, anyway). Whether one hates, loves or is ambivalent about coyotes is (I believe) largely based on personal philosophy. When humans believe they are separate from nature or they fear something in nature they create a story to justify the destruction of it. If we believe we are a part of nature and accept that we cannot always dominate everything, we can understand our fears, and let go of our prejudices.
Our fear is misplaced. The amount of attacks on people by pet dogs far outweighs attacks by coyotes (by order of millions). In a web search for “coyote deaths in Vermont” I couldn’t find a single human death attributed to a coyote attack. Livestock deaths do occur, but there are easy preventative measures, such as guard dogs, to avoid predation by coyotes. Without expert or genetic verification livestock deaths are sometimes misinterpreted. Often coyotes get blamed for deaths caused by domestic dogs or other predators.
So please, love your local coyotes!
*If anyone wants resources or references for this article please indicate so in the comments section. I am a natural scientist and have sufficient knowledge to support any statements I have made.