The Coyote

July 8, 2020

    The goal of wild life conservation is sustainable populations while protecting the environment from ecological harm and economic damage. The coyote certainly has a sustainable population. In fact, coyotes are now in areas they have never been before, and their population continues to expand[1]. With this great increase in species, it is important to explore the economic and environmental impacts. Every year famers and governments harvest the coyote to protect livestock and other wild animal species. In addition, there is cultural significance in the harvest of the coyote, as it has been done for centuries by Native communities and conservationists. This paper will explore how coyotes affect the bottom line of farmers, how high coyote populations can endanger other species, and how the harvest of coyotes is culturally important. 

 

    Mitchell et al reported that coyotes are "responsible for over $40 million in damages to livestock producers every year” [2]. Much of the damage occurs in the sheep industry, an already fragile industry with no room for profit loss. While many coyote control options have been studied, few are economically feasible. Farmers are left with no option but to harvest the coyote, and governments back this up with funding to decrease coyote populations [2].

 

    Coyotes are a known predator of many species. It becomes necessary to control the coyote population when they put other wild species in danger or when it would be in the best interest of the endangered species to have their predator removed. For many hunters, the obvious prey for the coyote is the white-tailed deer. At an environmental research park in South Carolina, the greatest source of white-tailed deer infant mortality was predation by coyotes, causing up to 80% of the infant deaths [3]. The connection between coyotes and deer goes beyond just the direct effect of predation. A study by Cheery et al. found that more female deer ovulated when the population of coyotes went down even when controlling for body mass and condition[4]. The northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife agencies reports that Coyotes have been trapped to aid restoration of the following species: Desert Tortoise, Attwater’s Prairie Chicken, Brown Pelican, Mississippi Sandhill Craine, Columbian White-Tailed Deer, San Joaquin Kit Fox, Whooping Crane, Least Tern, and Black-footed Ferret [5]. The harvest of the coyote promotes sustainable populations of these other species, a fundamental goal of wild life conservation. 

 

    It is important to note the environmental impacts of the complete loss of a species as well. Many will bring up the extinction of the wolves at Yellowstone and the lasting impacts it had. The perspective of conservation has changed since the removal of the wolves from Yellowstone. The goal of conservationist is no longer to completely remove species; rather, wild life conservation is about maintaining a balance. These balances are achieved through laws and regulations enforced by states and provinces as well as research that analyzes the population sizes. There are many published journal articles that examine the coyote population, and how it has been expanding into areas previously not inhabited by coyotes [1]. Additionally, the harvest of this animal does not pose a threat to their reproduction in the same way it would a wolf. In a 2018 article, Roland Kays noted that while wolves bread slowly, coyotes are able to reproduce quickly [6]. Coyotes, have shown incredible resilience to population control and continue to have large populations [7].

    

 

    The harvesting of animals represents a tradition dating back centuries. Indigenous people understood the important relationship between nature and man, harvesting animals for food, clothing, and tools. They also realized the importance of not taking to much. With the correct understanding, trappers are able to practice this too and harvest the surplus. Trappers and wildlife researchers sense the ebb and flow of wildlife populations and base the harvests upon this. Trappers and Indigenous people respect the land they use and the animals that inhabit it. They harvest animals within government regulations as to preserve the practice of trapping.

 

    In conclusion, the large and growing coyote populations have a very large economic and environmental impacts each year that must be mitigated though the harvest of the animal. The harvest of the coyote represents a tradition dating back centuries. The cultural importance in not something to be ignored, rather to be embraced and celebrated, as it highlights the give and take between man and nature. The utilization of the coyote reduces waste and creates a green alternative to unnatural products. Wildlife conservation goes beyond just maintaining species levels; it is about creating a balance in nature. 

 

 

 

 

  1. Gompper M.E. Top Carnivores int he Suburbs? Ecological and Conservation Issues Raised by Colonization of Northeaster North America by Coyotes. BioScience 2002;52(2):185-190

  2. Mitchell B.R, Jaeger M.M., and Barret R.H. Coyote depredation management: current methods and research needs. Wildlife Society Bulletin. 2004;34(4):1209-1218

  3. Kilgo J.C., Ray H.S., Vukovich M., Goode M.J., Ruth C. Predation by Coyotes on White-Tailed Deer Neonates in South Carolina. Journal of Wildlife Management 2012;76(7) 1420-1430

  4. Cherry M.J., Morgan K.E., Rutledge B.T., Conner, L.M., Warren R.J. Can coyote predation ask induce reproduction suppression in white-tailed deer? Ecosphere 2016;7(10):1-10. 

  5. Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. Furbearer Management in the Northeast.

  6. Fears D. Here’s why there are so many coyotes and why they are spreading so fast. Washington Post. 2018.

  7. Berger K.M. Carnivore-Livestock Conflicts: Effects of Subsidized Predator Control and Economic Correlates on the Sheep Industry Conservation Biology 2006;20(3):751-761