By Brenda McKenna | Guest Columns –
The Albuquerque City Council recently approved a resolution condemning coyote killing contests (CKCs) and supporting legislation for a statewide ban. This is welcomed.
Supporters of this legislation outnumber those opposed by more than two to one, according a December 2016 poll sponsored by Animal Protection Voters. My grandfather accepted predation risks when he was a sheep herder, and he would be appalled with CKCs. According to a 2015 U.S. Department of Agriculture report, the leading causes of cattle death are: respiratory 23.9 percent, unknown (nonpredator) 14 percent, weather 9.3 percent, calving-related 9 percent, all others (nonpredator) 31.8 percent. In a letter (published) Jan. 29, the writer never mentioned that 88 percent of cattle mortality is due to these causes nor did he offer how to address them.
Advocating unprovoked, unspecified killing of any animal species because of what some individual(s) allegedly did to a cow or calf is misguided. Enlightened ranchers and farmers accept there will be some predation and enlist guard animals such as alpacas, llamas, herding dogs or other humane barriers.
The ancestry of the North American coyote dates back around 1 million years whereas cattle were introduced to this continent in 1500 by Europeans.
The writer explains he found a cow ” … still alive after being eaten on by the pack” yet does not include what he did to aid the cow. Coyotes are naturally fearful of humans, and, unless habituated to humans, will respond to hazing.
The writer seems unknowledgeable about the coyotes’ diet, which primarily consists of rodents – 1,800 per coyote, per year – rabbits, fruit, vegetables, carrion, lizards and frogs.
After decades of living on a rural American Indian reservation, I have never witnessed a coyote attack, and a pack lives nearby. Similarly, as in Albuquerque, one needs to be vigilant around unleashed domestic dogs – not the coyote.
The writer advocates CKCs to control the coyote population; this is meritless. The coyote’s natural predator is the wolf – they do not like to share the same territory. Unfortunately, the U.S. government has sponsored extermination of wolves nationwide. Meaningful wolf reintroduction and leaving coyote packs alone are the recommended policies for stabilizing both populations. Killing coyotes only welcomes other coyotes to a territory.
The writer states, coyotes killed in a CKC “are so eat up with mange.” I looked at several recent CKC events online and the coyote carcasses have healthy winter coats. The writer also advocates trapping. This opinion reflects one who supports torture, cruelty and intolerance for other species in this state. Society needs to condemn trapping.
New Mexico Game & Fish cannot expend any resources on unlisted wildlife such as the coyote, prairie dog, et al., yet the writer wants it to figure “out how to control … coyotes that patrol your city.” It is absurd to charge NMGF to support and enforce sound biological wildlife policy when a former commissioner chair competed in a CKC in 2014 and another commissioner once said, “contests were a ‘great way’ to control a predator and ‘have some fun as well as a chance to win some great prizes.’”
In 2014, the USDA Department of Wildlife Services spent $66 million of federal funds on “animal management” to benefit private interests including the use of leg hold traps, snares, poison and aerial shooting. The agency killed 76,859 coyotes in 2016 – 3,407 in New Mexico. I met with an official at the USDA WS headquarters and I am still waiting for responses to questions regarding the agency’s policies.
The writer, who presents himself as an advocate for cattle, is unapolagetically dismissive of other animals (and) expresses neither dismay nor concern for cattle that are physically abused.