Coyotes and the ‘Kill It’ Fallacy
Coyote killing contests (CKCs) have swept all parts of this country where reason has fled. Distinct from hunting, which is driven by a need to sustain, CKCs are fueled by abject lust: Lust for money, power, thrill and status. Incentives for the highest kill rate can range from weaponry to outdoors equipment, and from hundred to tens of thousands of dollars in prizes. Propagandists for CKCs belligerently claim that their activities support the ranchers and farmers who own livestock, but this noble claim quickly loses legitimacy in the light of scientific inquiry. In total, fewer than five percent of ranching losses are attributed to predation. Rather than trapping and killing, there are many more effective measures of reducing losses; increasing herd density and grazing management being key among them.
At face value, killing coyotes would seem a fair prophylactic measure against cattle loss, but nature isn’t face value. Nature is a palimpsest of intricately and intelligently adapted systems, one on top of the other, to form the body of our planet. Coyotes are among the most intelligent aspects of this body. Much like the mythical hydra, coyotes spring back with a vengeance when force is taken against them. Noted biologist Bruce Gill has extensively researched coyote replacement in the wild, and has yielded some impressive data. When coyotes are diminished in a population, there begins a massive and effective replacement initiative that is three tiered. 1- Coyotes begin mating earlier and earlier to rebuild their numbers. 2-The frequency of their litters will increase. And 3- The litter size increases. All of this reproduction is contingent upon the amount of food available, and the more coyotes are killed, the more abundant food will be.