Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Coyotes spread nationwide, filling voids left by hated wolves

Canis latrans (AP photo by Karen Nichols)
Coyotes have spread all over the country from their native Southwest and are showing up in increasingly populated areas because of government-sanctioned programs that killed most red and gray wolves, their main competitors.

"As the Trump administration seeks to strip away legal protections for the last remaining wolves, state officials are contending with the consequences of a massacre carried out without regard to science," Darryl Fears reports for The Washington Post.

Coyotes are widely acknowledged as a nuisance: they rarely kill pets, but the voracious omnivores happily dine on fruit, deer, rodents, and small barnyard animals like chickens or even turkeys. They're hard to get rid of, too, Fears writes: "Coyotes have a unique response to population pressure: They make more coyotes. Kill half a million one year, experts say, and that many will pop up the next."

Federal and state agencies are trying to reduce coyote populations with incentives such as cash bounties and hunting contests, but it's not really working. "All told, 500,000 coyotes per year are killed by hunters, state agencies and federal wildlife services. The reason why they still come back is because of their body size. They can survive on just about anything," Jonathan Way, founder of Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research in Massachusetts, told Fears.

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