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Sunday, March 3, 2013
It was disappointing to read of a Franklin County coyote killer (“As coyotes proliferate, there’s work to be done,” Feb. 27 news story) and see nothing that might inform readers of more current methods of dealing with coyotes while protecting our domestic animals.
It is unethical to kill wildlife just for the fun of killing it.
Coyotes expanded naturally to Virginia at least 50 years ago, and help the ecosystem by eating rodents, insects and the smaller predators (skunks, opossums, etc.) that prey on birds.
Wildlife scientists now know that randomly killing coyotes results in more coyotes, not fewer.
A small coyote family (two to four individuals) will protect its territory from transient coyotes. Only the alpha male and female breed, once a year, and they mate for life, with both parents caring for their pups.
When mature, the pups disperse, and the size of the family remains constant. But if coyote killers gun down the alpha male or female, rampant breeding ensues and the territory cannot be protected.
Non-lethal methods have proven more successful in keeping coyote numbers in check and preventing predation. Bounties have been a failure.
Instead, funds should be used to help our farmers build good fences, to educate them about better husbandry practices and to purchase guard dogs, donkeys or llamas.
Pet owners must learn that roaming cats might live only two to three years, and they’ll kill many species of birds. Small dogs should be supervised outside; all pet food kept inside. Trash should be covered.
If a coyote comes too close, haze it. Teach it you are big, bad and loud by clapping, shouting or spraying a garden hose at it. Coyotes, if left alive, even teach their young which farms and houses to avoid, because none of us likes to be kicked by a donkey or sprayed in the face with water.
For more information based on science, check the website of a national organization founded by wildlife scientists, Project Coyote: www.projectcoyote.org.
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