Killing Coyotes

You know those old monster and/or sci-fi movies where the villagers and/or farmers gather up pitchforks, torches and/or possum rifles and storm the castle and/or space ship to kill everything inside?

Well, I was reminded of that when I saw this headline in an Ottawa newspaper the other day, Councillor calls on province to kill coyotes.  Seems that coyotes are running amok in Osgoode and Greely and parts of Ottawa’s south end. They’re scaring people and hurting/eating pets and livestock. City Councillor Doug Thompson, along with many of his constituents thinks the coyotes should all be trapped and killed.

From Ottawa Sun Sept 24/09

From the Ottawa Sun, Sept. 24/09. This guy is proudly holding the preserved head and pelt of a coyote he killed.

People tend to want to kill wild animals when they see them in their backyards – bears, raccoons, skunks, foxes, whatever. In fact, humans’ first reaction to anything unexpected or unfamiliar or scary is to destroy it. Whether it’s a spider[1] in your bedroom or a weed on your lawn or a growth in your body or the citizens of a country of whom we’re not particularly fond. We’re forever battling something, beating stuff, waging wars on things, fighting fights. It’s exhausting.

And it doesn’t really work, does it?

Sure, it’s great that we’re able to kill the offending tumour with all the miraculous toxins we invented, but when are we going to start taking a serious look at where all these tumours are coming from in the first place?

And spraying poison all over our orchards and fields makes us conquering heroes over all the nasty pests and unwanted plants that try to invade our food sources. Don’t we care that we’re also going to end up eating those poisons?

We fight with our own bodies when we “battle” weight problems, “beat” addictions. Violence is a quick fix and gives the illusion of progress. But it’s almost always a short-term solution.

We tell our kids to use their brains not brawn when dealing with problems, but by example we ingrain them with the lesson of mindless destruction.

We need bigger homes so we destroy acres and acres of woodland and the finely balance eco-system that goes along with it. Some creatures are not polite enough to lie down and die when their habitats are pillaged and end up resorting to unusual behaviours in order to survive.

Do you suppose a coyote’s first choice for a fine dining experience is rooting through someone’s garbage or gnawing on a mangy old cat or a yappy Lhasa Apso?

And where does it say that it’s okay for your cat or dog to roam around free in the outdoors at night, but it’s not okay for a coyote?[2]  If the two happen to meet, inevitably one of them will become the other’s dinner.  That’s what the term, “it’s a dog eat dog world”  means. If you don’t want your pets to be part of that world, keep them indoors.

But WE are at the top of the food chain, so WE reckon WE have the right to ride roughshod over every other life form on this planet. The problem is that all this destruction is killing off link after link in that chain. And what will WE do when WE’RE the only link left?[3] 

[1]What’s the deal with all the spidercide? Why are people always wanting to kill spiders? I read two spider killing blog posts in a row on Friday. (Linked in the text). It was horrible!
[2] In some native legends, the coyote is a messenger, bringing culturally significant information to the people.
[3] Once again, I will refer you to Soylent Green

34 responses to “Killing Coyotes

  1. At the peril of parroting LoLa, amen, Sister. It’s the first thing that came to mind as I read this post.
    I politely escort wildlife, including spiders, out of the house (alive) when encountered. ‘Tis I who encroach on their environment, not the other way ’round.
    I have no answer for the coyotes, whose land my house stands on, except to offer a silent apology to the moon when I hear them howl nearby. Mea culpa.

  2. I never go out into the wild and hunt down spiders, coyotes, bears, deers, rabbits, monkeys, pandas, kangaroos, sloths (three toes or otherwise), lions, tigers, skunks, racoons, boa constricters (unless a drag queen is wearing one and she is annoying me), birds, bugs (unless they are suicidal and fly into my car, because I don’t want to explain to the police why I swerved and hit a four people on a sidewalk to miss a moth) snakes or a loone or is that lune? BUT if a spider the size of a VOLKWAGEN BEETLE storms my bed while I am in it….IT MUST DIE. It is just the law of nature.

  3. I always liked what my brother used to say, “Insects have a right to live, but not in my house.” (And Xup, you really are starting to sound like an old hippy.) I detest hunting and I hate to think of people shooting coyotes, but I’d also hate to see a coyote eat Barney. I would love to keep him in the house and if you can stop by and train him not to pee all over the place it would be really swell. I myself am quite the pacifist and do not go around trying to beat the world into submission. I’ve always said that if I get cancer, then that’s that and I’ll go sit by the beach until my time is up. I’m pretty sure my family will “beat me up” about that.

  4. I with CedarFlames — I don’t think we should be killing the coyotes, I don’t think we need to be hunting things period.

    Clearly the wasps in my house could not be “peacefully” escorted out of my house. They posed a danger to my family and they were going to cause structural damage (in addition to the mainly cosmetic damage. Yup, we nuked the fuckers. And I’d do it again.

  5. LoLa – Ya, I assume environmental assessments are done before subdivisions are allowed to spring up, right? Why wasn’t this taken into account?

    Coyote – No reason why they should be. Their only purpose is to survive the best way they can and to keep their species going.

    Susan – I escort spiders out too. There’s no reason at all to kill them. They are important to the ecosystem and do us a huge favour by keeping the smaller bug population under control. People really need to think of the consequences of mindlessly wiping out critters, however big or small.

    Cedar – Why “MUST”? Why can’t you just scoop it up and put it outside?

    Linda – It seems a lot of people are really, really afraid of spiders. It’s irrational though — you know that, right? And snails? You’re afraid of snails? So… no escargot for you, eh?

    Geewits – Well, I am kind of an old hippy in some ways, I guess. If a coyote were in the midst of attacking me or my child or my dog or cat and I couldn’t scare him off, I’d get violent with him, too. I guess I’m saying we shouldn’t be so short-sighted about everything all the time, though. Before we raze a forest, maybe we could give a thought to what’s going to happen to all the critters that live there and that perhaps they’re going to become a problem to someone somewhere down the line. And before we march in slaughtering things we, the superior/more intelligent beings, should try and figure a way out of these problems we’ve created that doesn’t necessarily involve wholesale killing.

    Nat – Oh dear. I had a similar situation with mice once. A lot of that infestation was due to the landlord not keeping the building repaired very well. I don’t know what the wasp situation is and I’d probably do the same thing in your shoes. And then I’d make sure they couldn’t get in again, if possible, so I wouldn’t have to deal with it again. Ounce of prevention and all that.

  6. Don’t get me started! No one is allowed to kill the spiders at the cottage (don’t get many in town) because they keep the other bugs away. Gotta love that. Gertrude and her descendants has been living in the entrance for years. Once in a while I’ll escort things out. The only thing that dies at the cottage are the field mice that constantly get in. And live traps aren’t an option as we’re not there all week so they’d die of thirst and starvation. And letting them live in the walls and the pantry is just not an option. It breaks my heart.

    I have a compost bin at the cottage though I don’t use compost and just dump it in the woods once it’s ready. However, raccoons get into the bin once in a while, they flip off the top and have themselves a feast. I really don’t care, at least the stuff is useful to someone before it rots. However, I was once told by someone to put poison in the compost to get rid of the raccoons. I mean seriously, WTF!?!

    The mind boggles.

  7. Hi *raises hand* My name is Alison and I loathe spiders. I’m with Cedar on this one (in regards to spiders). My house is my territory, and I can’t bear to get close enough to a spider to do ‘escort’ duty outside. I don’t live in their garden, they don’t live in my house.

    As for coyotes, I hear them at night through my bedroom window, and it’s a lovely wild sound. I think they should be left alone. There are skunks who dig up my lawn in search of grubs. More power to ’em. The outside is their territory, and I wouldn’t dream of trapping them or hunting them or whatever. I keep my cat indoors so that he doesn’t become part of the Circle of Life.

  8. “Do you suppose a coyote’s first choice for a fine dining experience is rooting through someone’s garbage or gnawing on a mangy old cat or a yappy Lhasa Apso?”

    Well I agree with the idea of leaving the garbage alone but if lightly sauteed with some onions and a nice wine reduction, cat or dog is actually quite nice.

  9. Unfortunately we are the real pests in this world and we’ve been keeping things out of balance for centuries now to pursue our own selfish desires. Coyotes, bears, rabbits and yes even spiders, have every right to be here as we do and frankly WE’RE the ones encroaching on their territory.

    Anyways, I totally agree with you XUP and I think you should send this post to that redneck, rightwing rag known as the “Ottawa Sun”.

  10. Cedar – Why “MUST”? Why can’t you just scoop it up and put it outside?

    Did you read the part he was big as a Volkswagon? I have no idea what sort of spide that is/was. What if while I am trying to gently scoop up this monster he decided to jump at me and bite me and it IS a Hobo spider and my skin starts to fester away?

    The spider is an intruder, like a prowler, and when the spider made the decision to enter into my cave to explore out my natural habitat he ended up dead. You know in nature if a deer happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time a pack of coyotes will attack it and it will die. In my cave I am the big animal with the book of death. In the Spider’s web he is the enemy of the fly. It’s the circle of life babe.

    P.S. while packing up the basement yesterday I saw two spiders…I ignored them and considered it neutral terriority. That and they were not coming toward me at the time.

  11. Maybe it’s all the ganja-loving hippies, but we really don’t get that kind of attitude about the animals back in BC. Coyote alerts were semi-regular back in my elementary school days (I lived in the burbs and the forest is literally within walking distance), and now there’s the occasional bear alert, and nobody disputes that it’s because we’re living where the bears used to be. Even those who aren’t staunch environmentalists give a shrug and accept that bears are going to pop up if we live where they are. Also, bears are cute, so they have that going for them.

    As for spiders, there was one that I assumed crawled out of the kitchen drain in my sink the other day. I flushed it back down and (presumably) killed it soon after with boiling pasta water. Living in a concrete apartment, my ideal situation is to keep things clean enough that any spider would starve: there’s not enough nature around to justify having a satisfied spider, but in general I try my best to shoo insectivores outdoors instead of killing them.

    Bandoras: it depends on the breed.

  12. I live out in the country and I am regaled nightly by a chorus of coyotes that live in the woods behind my house. I sit out back and enjoy the howling and yipping and my dog sits there watching the woods with a bizarre fascination. We live in harmony with them.
    Then I read this kind of shit. => “Unfortunately we are the real pests in this world and we’ve been keeping things out of balance for centuries now to pursue our own selfish desires.”
    I’ll assume that a beaver who dams a river for his own purposes is natural but a man who dams the same river would be “corrupting nature”. Get off your high horses everyone.
    If you really want to do whats best according to nature? Back your fat asses away from the computer, drop your clothes and run naked into the forests go back to the stone age. AND NEVER COME BACK. Why is it that so many “ecologists” are people who bitch and complain and whine while living in a nice comfortable CITY where everything is conveniently accessible?
    Sure HUMANKIND has corrupted nature. As does everything that lives. By his physical nature man is a weakling when you look at the big picture. Freezes to death when its too cold, dehydrates when its too hot, doesn’t run fast enough to escape predators. But he is a deft and wily beast who has used the abilities that evolution has presented him to make a world that he can thrive in. If you doubt that then lop off your opposable thumbs, and go pound dirt. Because without intelligence, tool making and an abiltiy to change the enviroment that he lives in the “naked ape” would never have spawned the likes of YOU.
    End of transmission.

  13. Lebowski-So I guess we should just continue killing and raping the Earth and destroying all other species then eh?

    I’m advocating (and I’m sure XUP is too) people try and “evolve” to consider all life-not just human. Consuming and destroying with no forethought will only kill us off in the end. (Oh and about ecologists living in cities, what other choice do they have? But many are trying to push for change in how we get our energy, so they are more environmentally friendly as well as advocating strict urban boundaries. Which is a lot more than some people have done)

    Why don’t you get off YOUR high horse and stop bitching about people who actually give a shit about the environment?

  14. Jazz – Poison in the compost?? OMG.

    Alison – The poor spider doesn’t know the house is your territory. No one gives spiders those Notices of Development. Maybe you could encourage one of the girls to be the designated spider escort? Or have you infected them with your phobia already?? Pay/bribe one of them. Give them their own spider capturing jar and pay them per spider they release back into the wild. It could turn into a fun family game!

    Bandobras – It would be nice if you posted the entire recipe instead of just a general description of the dish.

    Hannah – We need to find nicer ways of invading territories, I think. And then understanding that we’re invading and try to live more harmoniously with what/who’s already there. And, ya, I’m sure the Sun would be thrilled.

    Cedar – Yes. A Volkswagon. I’m sure it was a very big spider and I do understand that there exist spiders that can actually harm and/or kill humans and I would definitely be wary of them. So wary that I would probably not try and kill them in case I missed the first time and made them really mad. Also, your spider didn’t “decide” to invade your cave. He was just wandering around doing what he was meant to do and your cave got in the way, so he just went through it on his way to wherever he was headed next. (PS: Did you just DANG me?)

    Lebowski – You are absolutely correct in your assessment of our place in universe. Humans use the skills they have to survive just like every other creature uses its particular skills to survive. I don’t think Hannah would disagree with that. I think the issue is that we’re not really using our intelligence. Like I said we’re just mindlessly messing up the entire ecosystem without considering long-term consequences. And we’ve been doing it for a long time. It should be perfectly possible for us all to live here in a sustainable way, don’t you think? And what we’ve been doing so far, ain’t really it.

  15. I find it funny that ppl call for the extermination of wild animals that kill and eat cats (coyotes, fishers, etc) but none of those roaming cat owners give a crap about the songbirds that their pet kills for sport.

    Hannah, chill out! I think Lebowski is right – beavers destroy all sorts of sensitive habitat when they indicriminately dam up streams and rivers – the Mi’kmaq (who’ve been living here for over 10 000 years without needing to rape the land with lumbering or agriculture (and yes agriculture is a rape of the land unless it is perrmaculture) – tell teaching stories that incorporate the animals misdeeds against nature too. They have traditionally seen the animals around them as brothers and sisters – not above or below themselves.

    With that in mind large coyote populations, large raccoon populations are a sign that the environment isn’t in balance – these are the greedy destructive species (much like man, which might be why first nations people respect them so much as tricksters) and they have taken the territory of much more ecologically sensitive predators. If you want to see the coyote population decline, work at getting more wolves back into the area, more black bears too. Ask where the bobcats and cougars are. Treat them as a beacon they are….and yes they really are much more destructive than the higher predators they’ve replaced.

    It isn’t an issue here (yet) but coyote dog breedings are *dangerous* (no fear of man plus the coyote predatory instinct).

    Lebowski I take issue with you putting down the “stone age”,! The more we learn about it the more sophisticated it is. We are only capable of doing what we’ve learned how to do – I wouldn’t want to put the most learned person on the planet up against one stone age person in a race to survive a month in the deep woods in January 🙂 While most of us would take that long to figure out starting a fire on our own they’d already have enough spare time to be making art to last millennia!

  16. I have to point this out (defending the omnivores!) that the peoples of the earth who have made the least impact environmentally have been hunter gatherers and they are without exception omnivores who do not settle in a single place, they travel according to weather and animal patterns. They also had more time for artmaking (storytelling, crafts, singing etc) than agricultural cultures.

  17. …before we start beating ourselves up at how nasty White Man is..and how great stone-age hunter/gatherer societies are, things weren’t exactly a bed of roses back then.

    The natives in North America had wars. They tortured their captives, and kept slaves. Further south, there were human sacrfices. Long before Europeans arrived.

    They burned the forest to get rid of the underbrush, to make it easier to hunt deer. They ran buffalos off cliffs.

    Thriving Incan and Pueblo cities were eventually abandonned and left in ruin. Because they’d get to a piont where they had cut down all the trees and depeted all the game within the immediate vicinity.

    And yes, they DID did have agriculture. When the soil was depleted, they just moved on…because they had the luxury to do so.

    10,000 years ago…there were all kinds of huge mammals in North America. Huge sloths, mammoths, etc…

    Which became extinct. Gee? I wonder what happened to them? Let me guess….Hunted and EATEN.

    I guess my point is….we’re not necessarily better/worse than before.

    Whether it’s the stone-age or present-day, Humans are territorial, nasty critters. Who WILL take over whatever environment they’re in, and exploit it to their fullest extent.

  18. “Whether it’s the stone-age or present-day, Humans are territorial, nasty critters. Who WILL take over whatever environment they’re in, and exploit it to their fullest extent.”

    Yes but so are most other creatures.
    Coyotes were never a problem here decades ago because they didn’t live here. They have moved east as other predators moved out or were killed.
    Deer carry a parasite that kills moose. I don’t think they do it on purpose but when the deer population explodes the moose die off.
    All nature is like that one thing consumes or usurps another.
    By the way since so many think “we are in their territory”, perhaps someone can point out where it is we are allowed to live and call our own and complain that other species are invading our territory.
    All that said however it is supremely idiotic to go on slaughter sprees like we did in the early 20th century. There are so many better and simpler ways to coexist with the rest of the biosphere.

  19. No that was just a generic dang to my horrible typing and grammar abilities when I am in a hurry an perplexed by your need to defend poisnous creatures against ….blah, blah, blah

  20. Friar, do some reading on the Inuit and the Innu and other hunter gather societies like the Mi’kmaq not all aboriginal and First Nations people practiced agriculture/burns etc. An excellent book on the subject is The Other Side of Eden:
    Hunters, Farmers and the Shaping of the World by Hugh Brody. I can guarantee it’ll challenge your assumptions.

    There is NO evidence that the Mammoths, Giant Beavers etc were hunted to extinction. The precontact Mi’kmaq (who have them in their oral history) lived almost exclusively on fish and small game – their large game hunting – moose, bear, deer was seasonally chosen at times to have minimal impact, protect mothers and young, and was supplemental food – mainly they needed the other raw materials a carcass provided (bone, furs and hide) In Europe there’s similar archeological evidence that hunter gathers ignored most of the available large game in favor of smaller more plentiful species.

  21. this sentence says it all, “humans’ first reaction to anything unexpected or unfamiliar or scary is to destroy it”.

    true, true, true.

    i don’t like the idea of killing these animals, there has to be another option for people to protect their livestock and such.

  22. Mudmama – Left to its own, nature will balance itself, won’t it? And yes, there are destructive creatures, but nature will always find something to balance that destruction. The destruction humans create is completely different, surely? And not just today, but through history our business has always been to “conquer” nature, not to live in harmony with it.

    Friar – I totally agree, as I said to Mudmama. (and yes, I realize this means that somewhere pigs must be flying)

    Bandobras – I have a hard time thinking of man as part of nature. I don’t know why. Maybe because we’ve always done everything we could to set ourselves apart from nature — not to live in it so much as protecting ourselves from it. And that often means destroying it.

    Cedar – No worries. You can dang me if you want to. And I absolve you of your crime against spiderdom due to extraordinary circumstances.

    Leah – Yes, humans are such bumbling idiots a lot of the time. I think the wildlife people are trying to come up with a better plan than wholesale slaughter.

  23. XUP I really recommend the book I mentioned to Friar. I think you’d enjoy it – here’s a good review –

    I think agricultural societies have always been determined to “conquer” and it is reflected in the dichotomies in their languages too – even the language is aggressive. This is not the case in the language constructs of hunter gather societies. Their language is inclusive, there language isn’t based on the noun, but the adjective.

    I don’t think being a destructive force on the planet is our birthright, our mark of Cain. I think we have other options – and models of society – that we can look to for a more harmonious future on Earth

  24. on September 28, 2009 at 2:24 pm Friar
    ” And what will WE do when WE’RE the only link left? ”

    Umm…..start eating each other. (?)


    No Comment..

  25. @XUP

    “Nature will balance itself”.


    If we human beings start getting too destructive, you can bet that Mother Nature will eventually come up with something to keep our numbers in check.

    Something as simple as a lowly virus, even.

  26. it said in 24 the other day they did a wipe out of them last year or the year before and they just came back.

    altho, int he field, behind the giant tiger on walkley, we have driven by and seen one and 2 of different occasions.

    not in the dark either.

  27. Mudmama – I shall put it on my list of books people have recommended to me and I’ll let you know when/if I get to it. Thanks. That’s very interesting about the agricultural vs hunter societies and language (which is always my first frame of reference and interest in anything) I definitely believe we don’t need to be as destructive as we’re being. It’s obscene sometimes the things we get up to in the name of progress or marking our territory or whatever strange contest we’re involved with against the earth/universe.

    Cedar – You’re a dirty girl.

    Friar – Yes, she will. Absolutely. We are the authors of our own destruction.

    Jobthingy – I’ve seen them in my neighbourhood when I go running early in the morning. So far they haven’t tried to take me down and drag me back as breakfast for their young, but I reckon it’s just a matter of time

  28. i know i already wrote about coyotes eating my cat on my own blog, so it’s clear where i stand. yes, wildlife have a right to live and to their territory, yes, so do we have the right to live and the right to our territory. i won’t go seeking them out, and if they come onto my ‘turf’ and start attacking me or my pets here at my home, yes, i will shoot to kill. if they’re hunting rodents in the field and the dog is indoors, though, i’ll let ’em have at it.

    territorial issues are at least familiar in the animal world. they learn not to get too close to us that way, and then there’s less conflict.

    the way livestock is farmed here – in oregon, anyway – the rule of the land is so slanted in favor of ranchers that you can actually get yourself killed in a crash with livestock on the road and owe the rancher for his lost ‘property’, even though he has no obligation to fence them in and you are dead. the rancher can sue your estate.

    that is way out of balance, and the over-grazing the livestock do here has resulted in environmental damage that can’t be undone. certainly not without changing everything about how livestock are farmed.

    there should be balance.

  29. Hallie – Ya, I don’t think a lot of humans are all that clear on the concept of balance. And yes, if a coyote was attacking my cat or my kid or something I’d be inclined to do whatever was necessary to stop the attack. But that’s not what this city councillor is calling for. He wants the province to come in and just hunt them all down and kill them. But hey, maybe while we’re at it we could also get rid of all the deer, rabbits, rats, mice, birds, insects, skunks, raccoons and other pesky critters that are yucky or scary, right?