Two coyotes conflicts, two cities, lots of questions

In a week that saw one coyote killed by authorities and more under fire in a planned cull, in two separate Canadian cities, numerous questions remain.

The killing occurred on December 10 in the north end of Winnipeg.

“Area residents reported seeing the animal running into a backyard, and officers cornered it there and fired four shots,” read a CBC news report.

The next occurred December 12 in Summerland, British Columbia. A woman walking her dog off-leash and handing out treats to ‘Rosie,’ was allegedly surrounded by three coyotes. Rather than try to scare them off, she dove on top her of dog and sustained minor injuries to her hands while “fending off” the attackers, according to Castanet News.

It is reported by the dog owner that conservation officers are planning a cull in the area.

What is worrisome to APFA is the complete lack of education, investigation and reasonable decision-making by authorities, the media and residents.

Let’s break it down:

  • An off-leash dog, darting in and out of a wild area, being given treats. There should be absolutely no surprise that coyote(s) showed up. We know that there are likely two reasons for their presence: food and protection. The treats – designed by all pet food companies to smell extra good to canines – would draw their attention. The presence of another canine would make them wary and get their guard up (imagine a man wandering around your kid’s playground).
  • Be big, be loud and tell that coyote to go away. Every single educational initiative for coyotes in North America involves these three steps, for children and adults alike. Instead, the woman literally dove on top of her dog on the ground. The complete opposite of what every single educational initiative for coyotes in North America tells people to do.
  • Some bruising and scrapes on her hands and arms. Those of us with dogs – or even those of us who have watched reality television dog trainers – know that if a canine wants to do damage, you won’t walk away with scrapes and bruises. This leads us to believe the coyotes were telling the woman’s dog (and because of her incorrect move, her) that she wasn’t welcome in the neighbourhood.
  • Cull because they’re displaying pack behaviour. Yes, they’re displaying canine pack behaviour. Because they’re canines. Why is this shocking? Coyotes live in family units; the pups learn to hunt, protect, forage and play at the heels of their parents.
  • A coyote was seen in a neighbourhood, going from backyard to backyard. As we know from prior experience, a coyote behaving this way almost always indicates that he or she is being fed intentionally or unintentionally.
  • The coyote ran away from police officers. That’s the exact behaviour we want in our coyotes and other wildlife. It means he has a healthy proximity tolerance (the desire to stay away from the unfamiliar or people).

In both of these stories, the media, residents and police did not ask the fundamental question that they would ask in virtually any human investigation: why. Why did this behaviour occur? Why did certain actions lead to other reactions? Why will our actions change the behaviour long-term?

Killing coyotes is a fool’s move, urged on by hunters, trappers and the ill-informed. Without addressing the underlying cause for a behaviour or action, another coyote will come along and, with the same circumstances still in place, replicate that behaviour.

It’s time that our government leaders, police leaders, media leaders and residents took the time to learn the truth about coyotes. It will bring an end to conflicts. And it will bring an end to needless deaths.

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