FOR BRANT NEWS
For over 300 years, the coyote has been hunted in North America.
Along with other predators such as wolves, bears, cougars and lynx, it was a staple in the fur-trade, as well as being considered a nuisance species or competition for game hunters.
Over the course of that more than 300 years, humans have nearly wiped out most of those predators through hunting, trapping and displacement. But, through it all, the coyote has survived.
During the last century, governments across North America have attempted to eradicate coyote populations through biological warfare (Colorado), aerial hunts (U.S. Department of Agriculture), poison campaigns (British Columbia) and even hunting and trapping contests (most recently eastern Ontario). But the coyote has survived.
Despite these ongoing failures – at the cost of untold millions of wild animals’ lives – governments and communities often jump at killing as a solution to a problem that often doesn’t truly exist.
Humane co-existence programs do exist, however, and do work.
In Stanley Park, British Columbia, Calabasas, California, and Niagara Falls, Ontario, education and prevention methods have resulted in calmed communities, a drop in sightings and fewer conflicts.
What is perhaps more impressive is that these programs were largely generated by volunteer organizations – Project Coyote and Coyote Watch Canada being two driving forces. Using modern research with traditional educational tools, they have taught residents to not fear coyotes, but respect them. They have shown that coyotes do not senselessly or maliciously approach or attack humans. They have proven that coyotes can safely live among us in urban and rural areas.
Initially, it seems a political risk to support such a program. However, history has not only shown us that these programs are significantly more effective than violent methods, but has shown us that communities can come together to learn about and appreciate nature.
It is an easy out to follow in the footsteps of our early leaders and order the deaths of animals. But in walking the new path of conservation and humane co-existence, the true courage of a community can be shown.
Michael Howie is a reporter with North Oakville Today, a Metroland Media publication.