What dogs? “Song” dogs? you may ask. Unless you’re quite fond of them, you may not know that this is a term of endearment for coyotes. In general, they’re not very popular and quite a number of people call them varmints or pests and like them about as much as cockroaches. And because they dislike them, they want to eradicate them, wipe them out, get rid of them once and for all. In fact, close to 400,000 coyotes are being killed each year by state, local, and private agencies. That’s over 1000 animals a day!
By far the most successful killing outfitter is a little-known tax funded government agency with the misleading name of Wildlife Services. Besides coyotes, they’ve destroyed mountain lions, bobcats, foxes, black bears, beavers, porcupines, river otters, and wolves. They have killed millions of birds, from nonnative starlings to migratory shorebirds to federally protected golden and bald eagles. Primarily, the activities of this agency benefit private enterprise such as livestock producers. Wait a minute — with our tax money? Unfortunately, that’s right. They spend over $100 million every year to help agribusiness with predator control, with many unintended victims caught in the carnage.
They use some very nasty methods to deal with what they call predators, namely cyanide poison capsules called M-44s, leg-holds, snares, and body-grips. The Sacramento Bee published a graphic that illustrates how these barbaric instruments work. It belongs to a three-part article published in the Bee, appropriately called The killing agency: Wildlife Services’ brutal methods leave a trail of animal death.
But that’s not the only threat our coyotes face, not by a far stretch. Another particularly cruel and bloodthirsty method of coyote mass extermination involves organized killing contests where so-called hunters come together to shoot as many animals as they can, and the winner gets a prize. Yes, you guessed correctly, often it’s a semi-automatic rifle or something equally precious. The organizers promote the event as good, clean family fun. I’m not joking. What is going on in the mind of a person who happily and indiscriminately kills as many animals of a certain kind as possible? The coyotes have strong family ties and a strong social structure. By shooting adult animals, any pups or offspring will not be able to learn the necessary survival skills that their parents would teach them. But participants in killing contests don’t see them as living beings, only as commodities that can be disposed of. Children as young as six or eight years of age are encouraged to take part in the killings. They’re being indoctrinated that animals have no feelings and will grow up to become killers themselves.
The New Mexico legislature just voted down a bill that would have banned such contests. The bill was introduced by State Representative Nate Cole, in part because of strong public outcry against a few such events which recently took place in New Mexico. Even a number of hunters supported the bill, because of the unethical aspect of competitive killing. Please click on the link if you want to sign the petition to help stop the killing contests in New Mexico. Although New Mexico lawmakers struck the bill down, the opposition to such cruel animal slaughter remains strong.
Maybe by now you really want to know why coyotes evoke so much hate. Sheep- and cattle ranchers on the one hand, and the Game and Fish Department on the other are their most vocal and powerful enemies. Ranchers claim financial losses due to livestock killed by coyotes, although National Agricultural Statistics Service data show that more than 95% of losses are attributed to causes other than predation. And scientific studies claim that indiscriminate killing of coyotes actually results in a higher animal population because more females are likely to breed and the litter size and survival rates increase. Plus, there are numerous alternative methods from keeping carnivores away from domestic animals. However, these methods require a modicum of innovative and creative thinking, definitely not the strong point of largely conservative ranchers.
The New Mexico Game and Fish Department considers coyotes to be competitors in the deer and elk killing business. The G&FD sells licences to hunters who want to shoot game in New Mexico. A deer brought down by coyotes means less revenue for the Department, or so their reasoning goes. Facts show, however, that carnivores largely feed on small animals such as mice (who carry the deadly Hantavirus), rabbits, and other rodents as well as berries and cactus fruit. They’re not a serious threat to the game population. It might be useful to notice as well that some members of the New Mexico Game Commission, the governing body of Game and Fish, have strong ties to cattle ranchers and to the NRA. They are appointees of Governor Martinez, and at least one study shows a relationship between donated money and her appointments.
Here are some images which were taken from contest participants’ websites and Facebook pages. They’re gruesome.