Conflict with wildlife can be frightening, upsetting, and anger-inducing. But that shouldn’t stop a journalist from doing their job.
A CTV News article from their Atlantic bureau has left The Fur-Bearers, and their audience, with more unanswered questions than facts following a report on an instance of conflict with a coyote.
According to CTV, a man in the Cape Breton community of Gardiner Mines, Nova Scotia, was walking his husky and terrier when two coyotes approached his group. The smaller dog ran away, but the coyotes attacked the husky, the owner says. He also noted that it’s not unusual to see coyotes, but has “noticed changes in how aggressive the wild animals are behaving.”
The story also notes that the owner has contacted the Department of Natural Resources, who plan to set traps to catch the coyotes. No direct comment from the Department was posted in either version of the story, nor was there any comment from a researcher, behaviour expert, or advocate, speaking to the coyote’s behaviour.
Whether this is a lax effort on the part of CTV News, or a general failure to understand the breadth of reporting on wildlife, is unclear. Simple facts found with simple questions that would never be ignored in another news story were missing, such as time of day, more specific location at the time of the incident, or other contextual information (were the dogs off leash or on long lines, did they approach the coyotes first, have any neighbours been interacting with the coyotes, are they being actively trapped/hunted in the area).
Failing to provide even a statement from the DNR through their website, which has a plethora of information on coyotes (though there may be bias in that content), is unsettling, and leaves us wondering if the purpose of this article was to provide an accurate account of the incident with analysis or information from experts, or simply to create clicks on a website. Getting sidetracked by an emotional witness or upsetting story is understandable, but a journalist should still be able to do their job and get the facts.