I had a chance encounter with a Coyote on January 17, a week after a controversial wildlife hunting (predator killing) contest took place. The day after I processed my coyote photo, there were pictures in the local papers of piles of dead predators, mostly foxes. These contests occur statewide and appear to be rooted in the rapid increase in the coyote population in New York State. My training is in natural resources ecology and management; I hunt; I’m an advocate of scientific management (best management practices) of natural resources, including harvest. I also believe that the harvest of wildlife must be carried out in a thoughtful, responsible manner, with great respect for the animals involved. A contest with assigned point values for species, culminating in prize money and publicity, is a reversal of over a hundred years of blood, sweat and tears in the conservation movement. Many feel as I do, and legislation has been introduced into the state Assembly to prohibit events like this.
In “Rise of the Eastern Coyote” (NYS Conservationist magazine, June, 2014), Dan Bogan, Ph.D., presents a very interesting and informative summary of the history and status of the coyote in New York State. Since arriving here from Canada in the late 1930s, coyotes have rapidly acclimated to human environments and filled the niche once occupied by the Gray Wolf (extinct in New York State for over 100 years). According to Bogan, these new canids are unique predators: about 64% western coyote, 26% wolf and 10% domestic dog. From an ecological point of view, this is exciting! We have a rare opportunity to study, first-hand, the evolution of a new species or subspecies and the rapid expansion of a population of large predators into a man-made world. .
Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.