Please note that there are no graphic images in this blog, though links provided will take users to a disturbing video of the incident.
Investigators believe they have identified the youths depicted in a video brutally beating a coyote to death, but many questions abound regarding the horrifying incident.
The video, which surfaced online and allegedly took place in Sexsmith, Alberta, is being investigated by RCMP in Grand Prairie as well as provincial Fish and Wildlife officials. According to the CBC (NOTE: this link leads to graphic images and video), an area man who doesn’t know the youths reported it to police.
"I mean, just look at how disturbing that video is, especially when the coyote is sitting there with fear in its face and they zoom in on it and laugh,” the unidentified man told the CBC. "It's just heart-wrenching and disturbing on two ends of the spectrum. No sane human would accept that."
The investigation is ongoing and The Fur-Bearers will be closely following it and providing updates as they’re available.
But many questions about this incident, and what may have led to the behaviour, remain.
It is difficult to not speculate that a culture of fear and anger toward many species contributed to this incident. A paper by Dr. Adrian Treves explored the connection between government sanctioned culls and increases in poaching, positing that approval to kill from the government leads to individuals killing animals out of season or by other illegal means.
Between media accounts that frequently vilify coyotes, governments who claim that it is acceptable to kill coyotes year-round by inherently inhumane methods, and a community of hunters and trappers who view coyotes as pests that must be eradicated, youth are exposed to constant subtle approvals for killing coyotes. We cannot currently know – and we may not ever know – what led to such aggressive, disturbing behaviour from these young people. But we do know that their actions took place in a Canada where trapping and bashing in a coyote’s skull is legal and government sanctioned.
We understand that all animal lovers are upset by this, and many will experience vicarious trauma. We ask that you consider self-care options such as speaking to a professional to help manage your emotions and allow the legal system to properly process this incident.
Defender Radio Podcast: The Advocate's Counsellor
Traditional media are showcasing this story for its shocking nature. Perhaps it will give them, as well as many other Canadians who aren’t aware of the realities of how coyotes are treated in our country, an opportunity to see the truth.
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