Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Culling Coyotes in Canmore, updated

I posted about the 3 children nipped by coyotes in Canmore a few weeks ago. At the time I commented that it was unusual for coyotes to attack kids, especially one as old as 13.

Well a couple of articles from local Canmore papers shed a lot more light in the situation. From the Rocky Mountain Outlook:

Wittner said the coyotes were not attacking the children, instead, the animals were likely begging for food.

"It was probably a 'please feed me', trying to encourage this person to drop some food. It's so atypical for a coyote to approach a person in the first place. So if they are doing it, it's a learned behaviour," she said.

The normally shy and secretive coyote learns that behaviour from people who are actively or inadvertently feeding them. Wittner said she knows of at least one person in Canmore who is feeding coyotes and she believes there are likely more doing the same.

From the Canmore Leader:

Wittner said residents are also more likely to see coyotes if they’re out walking their dog, more incentive to keep dogs on-leash.

“Coyotes are attracted to dogs, and see them as an intruder. That’s why they’ll come and check them out. They’ll leave people alone, but you’re more likely to see one if you have your dog.”

All of this makes a lot more sense than coyotes outright attacking humans. It's clear the kids were scared (as they should be) and parents have a right to keep their children safe. However instead of hunting down coyotes and killing them or creating barriers in the coyotes natural environment, maybe humans need to look at how their behavior is attracting the coyotes in the first place.

It blows me away that people are actually feeding coyotes. As the article points out, dealing with coyotes is similar to dealing with bears. If you knew someone who was purposely feeding bears, or elk, or wolves or even foxes, wouldn't you be irate? Then why would it be any different with coyotes?