Coyote Ugly

The Sacramento Bee reported on a different sort of failure of government: in this case, too much government. For 80 years, as a subsidy to western ranchers and other private interests, the federal government has spent hundreds of millions of dollars operating a ruthless and indiscriminate wildlife-killing program, which is now euphemistically called Wildlife Services. Today’s story by Tom Knudson, the second installment of three parts, recounts how the agency is slaughtering coyotes to boost big-game populations for hunters in Nevada. Ironically, the predator-killing is not doing much to help raise deer numbers, but it’s doing a very good job of boosting populations of rodents and other small mammals injurious to agriculture.

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BOOK REVIEW: Coyotes in Our Midst: Coexisting with an Adaptable and Resilient Carnivore

Coyotes in Our Midst: Coexisting with an Adaptable and Resilient Carnivore

As America’s most persecuted carnivore, coyotes need all the help they can get. Thankfully, the Animal Protection Institute has stepped into the fray with this intelligent and well-cited guide.

The authors discuss the ways in which traditional management (which translates as “Shoot every one you see”) has failed dismally. Coyotes have thrived despite generations of persecution exactly because they are so prolific and adaptable. Despite the wholesale slaughter, the wild canines have only expanded their range. Clearly, there must be a smarter, better way.

The authors argue that coyotes are here to stay—and the only way to change coyote habits is to change our own. They outline a community approach to coyote problems, whether they occur on the farm or in the suburbs. The appendix lists coyote “management” strategies state-by-state; most boil down to open season year-round. It’s no surprise we have a problem.

This would be a good resource for wildlife officials or anyone hoping to make changes in the way their community deals with coyotes, as well as school and public libraries in coyote country.

(review originally appeared at goodreads.com)