Re: .22 Rifle Suggestions
Coyotes are fast growing to be a major nuisance species nationwide. Recently one of the first documented human deaths from a coyote attack occurred in New Breton, Canada and for the past decade attacks upon humans, especially small children, have been on a steady increase. Everyone is aware of the small animal disappearances as well and it is an all to common sight throughout any major metropolitan area to cruise the residential neighborhoods and see all the missing cat posters.
This is due to the highly adaptable nature of the chief mezopredator of north america. Mezopredator being a middle predator which includes the raccoon, bobcat and foxes. Historically the apex predators (bears, mountain lions and wolves) kept the coyote restrained and confined to the west. In the absence of the apex predators the coyote has expanded it's range all the way to the east coast from Florida to Cananda and assumed the top role in most ecosystems. Also being a mezopredator the coyote is highly adaptable able to snatch and grab prey and food wherever it finds it. It, more so than the wolf it resembles, has been able to adapt to the urban enviroment and is now a ubiquitous resident of all our cities. We now have a clear example of a species out of place both in location and position with the ensuing havoc.
For the most part individual coyotes and the loose packs (more of an extended familial group then a true pack as in wolves) they form still continue to avoid human contact due to the innate aversion to higher predators but modern society frowns on humans acting as a predator. In our cities coyotes are loosing that innate fear as humans seem to have lost the natural apex predator drive to exercise the right of dominance and drive off the smaller predators. This is where the problems occur. Once an individual coyote, or any other aggressive species for that matter, learns that no harm will come to it as it encroaches this behavior will be enforced and taught to later generations (learned behavior).
For the most part an urban coyote will continue to avoid direct contact with humans but as they traverse the urban landscape close contact is inevitable. At first it is contact in passing as they travel the land and the encounters are brief but as humans continue about their business ignoring or even encouraging close contact (feeding, poor sanitation, creating micro habitats, encouraging explosion of prey specie populations such as rats and mice at bird feeders, providing small prey items like cats and dogs) the behavior of coyotes will change to bring them into even closer contact and the inevitable will occur where the individual coyote not only loses it's natural fear of a higher predator but will look upon us as an easy mark. This is where the trouble starts. Once that individual habituates to this behavior it will spread to it's offspring (learned behavior) unless steps are taken to stop it. This is where I or others like me come into the picture. Of course it all could have been avoided in the first place.
I am not only a trapper but an educator. Of course I must target the problem individual animals and remove them as it is almost impossible to "untrain" bad learned behavior. Actually, to do so risks the sort of bad confrontation we are trying to avoid in the first place. The education comes in the form of teaching my humans (clients) how to stop encouraging coyotes (and other wildlife) from becoming a nuisance in the first place. Among the many items I cover are how to react to seeing a coyote, be the dominant predator scare it off make it think you intend it harm, deny it habitat by removing hiding places and be active in all areas of your domain, do not provide good hunting grounds by keeping small animals restrained and under your control and remove food sources for prey species (get rid of the bird feeders) and practice good sanitation (put a lid on the garbage can and don't leave it out all week), deny them access to come close (fencing, barriers and lighting).
Whatever the case we as a society have created the opportunity for coyotes to thrive and expand and now we as a society need to accept responsibility in managing this species and keep it in it's proper place. I as an individual trapper have a snow ball's chance in hell of ever hoping to resolve coyote conflicts if the rest of society continues on it's present course. All I can do is come in and pick up the pieces. On a case by case basis I am doing my part how about the rest of you?
Georgia Wildlife Services, Inc