They Never”, “They Always”

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Jim Beers, retired Refuge Manager, Special Agent, & Wildlife Biologist U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Jim Beers, retired Refuge Man­ag­er, Spe­cial Agent, & Wildlife Biol­o­gist U.S. Fish & Wildlife Ser­vice

A pack of “five to six” coy­otes just killed a full grown horse, iron­i­cal­ly owned by the Coun­ty Sheriff’s Depart­ment, in a pad­dock between Detroit and Flint, Michi­gan.  The local “wildlife tech­ni­cian” said he “can count on zero fin­gers the num­bers of times coy­otes have tak­en down a large ani­mal”.  He also said, “If you make a lot of noise and wave your arms, they are going to run. Usu­al­ly when they see humans, they’ll book it.”  While he under­stood some peo­ple may get a bit pan­icky about the recent attack, he added, “They real­ly have noth­ing to fear about being attacked.” He is cor­rect, “usu­al­ly”.

Coy­otes ran down and killed a young lady hik­er in an East­ern Cana­da Provin­cial Park a few years ago.  Coy­ote bitch­es with pups have, on numer­ous occa­sions, attacked small, unat­tend­ed chil­dren in New England’s set­tled land­scapes – most like­ly as food for pups.  The for­mer Gov­er­nor of Texas shot a coy­ote approach­ing him as he jogged a cou­ple of years ago.  These are but a few of many recent inci­dents and cer­tain­ly but a very tiny por­tion of such inci­dents his­tor­i­cal­ly.

My point is not to dis­par­age either coy­otes or “wildlife tech­ni­cians”.  My point is about wildlife fan­tasies and gov­ern­ment agen­das as coy­ote num­bers grow and coy­otes infest (the cor­rect word) cities and sub­urbs and as wolves, griz­zly bears and moun­tain lions (“pan­thers”, “cougars”, “puma”) are increased and spread in the set­tled land­scapes of the Low­er 48 States by gov­ern­ment decrees based on dan­ger­ous­ly false premis­es.

Coy­otes are like fox­es.  They eat what they can, when they can.  They get rabies and can be extreme­ly dan­ger­ous to humans, domes­tic ani­mals and oth­er wildlife when so infect­ed.  Coy­otes in one sense might be char­ac­ter­ized as fox­es on steroids.  They are big­ger, more fear­less, range more wide­ly and they kill and eat dogs and cats as quick­ly as they will a mouse or a rab­bit.  To a coy­ote, espe­cial­ly one with pups to feed, a one or two-year old child unat­tend­ed in a rur­al or sub­ur­ban yard is more often than not mere­ly a vul­ner­a­ble and eas­i­ly tak­en down meal for the pups.  To a pair or pack of coy­otes (coy­ote “packs” are an increas­ing­ly not­ed phe­nom­e­non) a jog­ger or dog walk­er or hik­er has exact­ly the same fas­ci­na­tion that they would have to a pack of dogs gone wild; that is to say curios­i­ty, an urge to inves­ti­gate and chase and even drag down just like your neighbor’s dog that chas­es cars or kids on bikes.

Two years ago in Mon­tana I was told of two sep­a­rate instances; one of an adult doe mule deer strug­gling across a road with a coyote’s teeth firm­ly locked on the front of her neck and try­ing to drag her down, and anoth­er of a coy­ote trot­ting along­side an adult mule deer for at least four hours exhaust­ing her in order to kill her. In both instances the observers were 3rd and 4th gen­er­a­tion ranch­ers that had nev­er before seen such behav­ior.

In dif­fer­ent areas and under dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances coy­ote behav­ior will vary great­ly, just like the watch­dog in your ken­nel and Aunt Mary’s lit­tle Chi­huahua that is always being kissed and pam­pered on the old widow’s lap are as dif­fer­ent as night and day.  When coy­ote food com­pe­ti­tion becomes greater; or wild food dis­ap­pears; or coy­otes “Learn” that cows, calves, sheep, win­ter­ing deer, and even full-grown hors­es are more vul­ner­a­ble to a pair of coy­otes work­ing togeth­er and even more vul­ner­a­ble to a “pack” of coy­otes: coy­otes will, just like the two neigh­bor­hood dogs that get loose and kill chick­ens and lambs and chase sheep into fences or over a drop-off will do for “fun” or “a nat­ur­al chase reac­tion” or what­ev­er the next expert tells us is the “rea­son”.

Wolves are coy­otes on steroids just like coy­otes and fox­es, only mul­ti­plied by a fac­tor of three or four.  They are not only much big­ger, such big­ness (as with griz­zly bears or big football/basketball play­ers) often encour­ages behav­ioral devel­op­ment of invin­ci­bil­i­ty and the imag­ined abil­i­ty to take what­ev­er appeals to you.  In the case of these large preda­tors this is passed on to off­spring and rein­forced by injuries and death to adults that do not con­form. I apol­o­gize here for my anthro­po­mor­phisms but I am writ­ing here for the gen­er­al pub­lic and try­ing to make this under­stand­able.

Wolves car­ry all the dis­eases and infec­tions that coy­otes and dogs car­ry plus they are not privy to all the shots Aunt Mary pro­vides for her lit­tle “snookums”.  Wolves trav­el in large (larg­er than coy­otes) groups rou­tine­ly and they (dai­ly, week­ly and month­ly) cov­er much larg­er areas in their wan­der­ings.  Wolves are more fear­less or less ret­i­cent (take your pick) than coy­otes and there­fore are quick­er to habit­u­ate (hang around and become dan­ger­ous­ly com­fort­able) to human home­steads and human activ­i­ties.  Wolves kill, eat, roll in, sniff car­cass­es, con­tract a wide range of ail­ments and infect each oth­er and oth­er ani­mals includ­ing humans over a much wider range than oth­er preda­tors. In turn they fre­quent home­steads and com­mu­ni­ties dur­ing the night to an aston­ish­ing degree.  Addi­tion­al­ly they gam­bol about in groups much like bats that spread infec­tions amongst them­selves and oth­ers like wild­fire thus mak­ing them extreme­ly effec­tive vec­tors of those dis­eases and infec­tions.  Wolves rou­tine­ly and, depend­ing on where they grew up and what they find avail­able, con­sis­tent­ly kill and injure cows; calves; sheep; lambs; dogs; adult moose, elk, deer; and the young of these game ani­mals.

Why any­one doubts that unarmed, young, elder­ly or lone humans can­not occa­sion­al­ly spark the same emo­tions in wolves as those ani­mals and there­fore lead to the same result can only be an exam­ple of the imag­i­na­tion con­trol­ling the mind and com­mon sense.  The total fed­er­al pro­tec­tion and forcible (by gov­ern­ment laws and dra­con­ian penal­ties) spread of wolves in recent years in The Low­er 48 States has allowed for an expand­ed wolf pres­ence and wolf den­si­ties (in set­tled land­scapes) far quick­er and more thor­ough­ly than the coy­ote pop­u­la­tion explo­sion east of the Mis­sis­sip­pi Riv­er in the last five decades.

His­tor­i­cal­ly, world­wide Wolf Attacks on humans are count­less, leg­endary and doc­u­ment­ed from cen­turies before Christ in Greece right on down to the young lady school­teacher jog­ger killed and eat­en on the Alaskan Penin­su­la a cou­ple of years ago and the young Cana­di­an man run down and killed in Saskatchewan a few years back.  There are US Army Reports after the Civ­il War of rabid wolves invad­ing Forts and bit­ing every­one they encounter before being shot.  Ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry biol­o­gists report­ed the belief by set­tlers in the pre­vi­ous cen­tu­ry that the light­en­ing spread of small­pox through Indi­an vil­lages was either because of or great­ly enhanced by wolf packs that quick­ly “Learned” that dead and dying Indi­ans were help­less and vul­ner­a­ble and there­fore sus­cep­ti­ble to wolf depre­da­tion and – just like wolves that feed on lambs or a moose cow and her calf while she gives birth – they look for and inves­ti­gate sim­i­lar sur­round­ings in their wan­der­ings.  In the case of those dying Indi­ans; that would have been the oth­er vil­lages that the wolves had pre­vi­ous­ly avoid­ed for fear of human retal­i­a­tion.

Griz­zly bears and pan­thers are as prob­lem­at­ic in set­tled land­scapes as are wolves.  Griz­zly bears are noto­ri­ous­ly can­tan­ker­ous and more liable to attack and kill an unsus­pect­ing camper, hik­er, hunter, or even kids in a rur­al yard the same as they do to live­stock than any oth­er ani­mal in the Low­er 48 States today.  Pan­thers are like­wise noto­ri­ous for not only killing stock but for killing kids and adults on hik­ing trails, while bik­ing, camp­ing or sim­ply hang­ing out near a rur­al home­stead.

The dan­gers and destruc­tion cit­ed above will only increase annu­al­ly, just as these ani­mals are doing, as these ani­mals are:

-       Giv­en more pro­tec­tion like pro­hibit­ing Hunt­ing and Trap­ping sea­sons meant to restrict such ani­mals’ num­bers and dis­tri­b­u­tions to areas and den­si­ties tol­er­a­ble to the local com­mu­ni­ties WHERE THEY ARE TO BE ALLOWED TO EXIST.

-       Sub­jects of more laws and reg­u­la­tions for­bid­ding effi­cient Con­trol meth­ods like traps, snares, dogs, den­ning (killing young), aer­i­al shoot­ing, etc.

-       Pro­pa­gan­dized in the media, schools and gov­ern­ment-financed pro­pa­gan­da as, “nec­es­sary”, “good for the envi­ron­ment”, “ben­e­fi­cial”, “harm­less”, “native species”, etcetera.

-       “Live-trapped” in cities and sub­urbs when they are prob­lems and peo­ple are told they will be released into “the wilder­ness” that is in truth some rur­al road­side in the dark­ness where the ani­mal either begins molest­ing the cur­rent­ly preda­tor-rich local neigh­bor­hood or starts mean­der­ing back to from whence he came and dis­rupt­ing oth­er com­mu­ni­ties along the way.

-       Allowed to reach den­si­ties that exhaust var­i­ous wild food avail­abil­i­ty and then shift on to the avail­able domes­tic foods like stock, garbage, dogs and what­ev­er else looks edi­ble in and around the human habi­ta­tions from back­yards and school bus stops to play­grounds and sub­ur­ban walk­ing trails and fringes that they for­mer­ly avoid­ed.  The old saw about preda­tor pop­u­la­tions going down after they exhaust (i.e. kill most of) their food sup­ply like on Isle Royale Nation­al Park in Michi­gan (re: moose) doesn’t apply where live­stock, dogs, garbage, vul­ner­a­ble humans and unin­hab­it­ed (by wolves) areas are avail­able for preda­tors expe­ri­enc­ing more fre­quent hunger pains to begin shift­ing to.

-       Slat­ed to encounter an increas­ing­ly dis­armed rur­al Amer­i­cans if the cur­rent fed­er­al politi­cians, bureau­crats, big-city May­ors and Gov­er­nors with big city polit­i­cal’ sup­port­ers have their way about gun con­trol.  Like Fido in your home, when he is nev­er dis­ci­plined and taught to avoid offend­ing the humans in the home –first he gets on the bed, then he takes food off the counter and then food off the table and sud­den­ly he is seri­ous­ly growl­ing at you for get­ting in the way of what he wants.  Today peo­ple run into their home or car if they can when encoun­ter­ing a dan­ger­ous ani­mal and one that is con­di­tioned to see fear­ful humans and is no longer fear­ful since he is nev­er threat­ened or chal­lenged in his increas­ing­ly bold moves toward humans.

-       Paint­ed as desir­able in uncon­trolled den­si­ties where local com­mu­ni­ties nei­ther want nor will tol­er­ate the dam­ages and dan­gers atten­dant with the decrees of remote cen­tral gov­ern­ment bureau­crats work­ing on behalf of rich urban fac­tions and indi­vid­u­als with more hid­den agen­das than, as my Moth­er used to say, “Carter Has Lit­tle Liv­er Pills”.

Now if you doubt this, let me tell you why you do.  The gov­ern­ment bureau­crats and their nefar­i­ous “part­ners” and sup­port­ers from rich moguls to aca­d­e­mics and the media have a stake in what you have been told for the past 40+ years about these ani­mals.  Con­sid­er:

-       A lady is killed one night recent­ly behind her cab­in in N Wis­con­sin wolf coun­try.  She told her com­pan­ion that her neigh­bors’ (black) Labrador retriev­er was in the yard and she was going to return it to the neigh­bor.  Much lat­er that night her body, obvi­ous­ly attacked and injured vicious­ly by an ani­mal and minus an arm, is found.  Papers are curi­ous­ly unin­ter­est­ed.  State biol­o­gists and a Sher­iff con­clude (with­out a DNA check of the neighbor’s mild-man­nered Lab or the lady’s cloth­ing) that the Lab did it.  Case Closed.

-       Two years ago, two ladies park their car in a Nation­al Park remote park­ing lot in Ida­ho wolf coun­try and leave their dogs in the car as they go for a hike.  (Q. Now how far might two old­er ladies be plan­ning to hike if they leave their dogs in a car?)  They go miss­ing and search par­ties with dogs find their remains after exten­sive search­ing.  The remains are sent to a Coro­ner sev­er­al Coun­ties away from the site by fed­er­al and local law enforcers.  The Coroner’s Report is sealed.  News­pa­per reports are pub­lished that the ladies died of “expo­sure” though both the day­time and night­time tem­per­a­tures were mild.  Case Closed.

-       A child on a Sun­day Church Picnic/Hike out­ing in Col­orado dis­ap­pears as he runs back and forth between two groups and is nev­er found.  Mem­bers of each group remem­ber a moun­tain lion above them on the slopes as they hiked.

-       Every time a griz­zly bear kills a camper or a hik­er or a hunter or a horse­back rid­er, etc. we are told of how THE VICTIM mis­be­haved or was igno­rant of his sur­round­ings or was sim­ply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

-       I have stopped count­ing the time in places like Cal­i­for­nia or Ore­gon or sim­i­lar big-city run states where pan­thers are pro­tect­ed either by statute or pro­hi­bi­tion of effi­cient hunt­ing meth­ods like dogs that a body is found, a cougar is the sus­pect­ed cul­prit but they can’t quite be sure nor can they go after it any­way since no one trains, feeds and main­tains dogs that track pan­thers or any large preda­tors for that mat­ter any­more.  It has been the same with gov­ern­ment lies about “com­pen­sat­ing” live­stock own­ers for loss­es to wolves and griz­zly bears.  First, they are sel­dom sure enough to say it was wolves of griz­zlies or maybe dogs or a moun­tain lion (or gosh maybe hye­nas or jack­als?)  Sec­ond there is nev­er enough mon­ey when pay­ments are autho­rized to com­pen­sate the own­ers ful­ly: there is only a pro­por­tion of what­ev­er is avail­able.  Third, the government/environmentalist bud­gets dwin­dle, under­stand­ably, once the wolves and griz­zlies are estab­lished and the landown­ers are instruct­ed to “learn how to coex­ist with them” even though as men have known down through the ages, that is impos­si­ble in set­tled land­scapes.  Would you think poor­ly of me if I sug­gest­ed that per­haps the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment and all their nefar­i­ous allies in this busi­ness might ulti­mate­ly desire to “un-set­tle” these “set­tled land­scapes”?  For­give me, what was I think­ing?  I must just be a mean-spir­it­ed old man.

Allow me to answer for the “wildlife tech­ni­cian” whose advice about a dear­ly beloved horse (with­out mean­ing to be sar­cas­tic, there are few ani­mals that could pluck heart­strings more than a horse in one of these fair­ly dense­ly-set­tled land­scapes) that began this arti­cle.  Since my career is long over and I am no longer depen­dent on the good graces of pow­er­ful envi­ron­men­tal lob­bies or bureau­crat­ic boss­es that meet with and con­tribute to ani­mal “rights” orga­niz­ers, here is what I would say to the res­i­dents of the Detroit/Flint area about the demise of this horse:

Good Folks of SE Michi­gan, lend me your ear.  We have an increas­ing­ly dense coy­ote pop­u­la­tion in our area.  These ani­mals are uti­liz­ing wood­lands, parks, unused odd spots, dis­tressed prop­er­ties and unkempt home­steads while rais­ing their young and look­ing for food con­stant­ly in our midst.  Gov­ern­ment and Pri­vate Con­trol efforts, while avail­able for a min­i­mum of the coy­ote com­plaints like the recent death of a horse on a farm near the Lapeer/Oakland Coun­ty bor­der, can­not begin to keep up with the human/coyote con­flicts we are expe­ri­enc­ing and see lying ahead.  The answer is a con­tin­u­ous, year-in/year-out coy­ote hunt­ing and trap­ping sea­son by res­i­dents and oth­ers in and around our area.  Our goal should be to keep the coy­ote pop­u­la­tion at a con­sis­tent­ly low­er lev­el and to even exclude them from cer­tain areas as best we can deter­mine as we go about this effort.  We are ask­ing the Michi­gan DNR to send us a biol­o­gist and a Law Enforce­ment plan­ner to rec­om­mend sea­sons, meth­ods, and coy­ote esti­mat­ing pro­ce­dures to meet and main­tain our goals.  We are also explor­ing ways to get a sur­charge on the hunt­ing and trap­ping licens­es as well as any furs sold from the area of our (4?, 6?, 8?) Coun­ties area to finance this ongo­ing Local coy­ote con­trol pro­gram intend­ed to not only pro­tect our hors­es, oth­er live­stock, dogs, cats, oth­er wildlife but even our chil­dren.  Reduc­ing the num­bers of coy­otes in our area reduces the like­li­hood of encoun­ters with chil­dren or domes­tic ani­mals in par­tic­u­lar.  Such a con­tin­u­ing con­trol pro­gram will, hope­ful­ly, con­tribute to coy­ote behav­ior that is at once more ret­i­cent around humans and their prop­er­ty and safer in the long run for the good res­i­dents of our fair coun­try­side and urban neigh­bor­hoods.  Any ques­tions?

If the “wildlife tech­ni­cian” were to say some­thing like that, he would be look­ing for a job dri­ving truck and won­der­ing how he would pay for his daughter’s wed­ding.  He, like me when I was work­ing for “the wildlife”, does what he has to do.

That said it is axiomat­ic that the few­er coy­otes in any area, the few­er con­flicts and com­plaints (i.e. harm to res­i­dents).  Wolves and griz­zly bears DO NOT BELONG IN SETTLED LANDSCAPES and those respon­si­ble for RE-INTRODUCING them into The Low­er 48 States with nei­ther State nor Local con­cur­rence are guilty of a great wrong that will one day be no longer deni­able.

The pres­ence; the absence, the con­trol; and the tol­er­ance of coy­otes, wolves, griz­zly bears and pan­thers is – under the Repub­lic estab­lished by our Con­sti­tu­tion  and under many (it should be ALL) State Con­sti­tu­tions — is a LOCAL mat­ter to be deter­mined by LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND THEIR GOVERNMENTS.  It is the role of State gov­ern­ments to pro­tect this Local Author­i­ty and pre­rog­a­tive from ALL threats, up to and includ­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment in all its’ increas­ing man­i­fes­ta­tions.  The fed­er­al gov­ern­ment no more belongs telling Local Com­mu­ni­ties what preda­tors they must tol­er­ate than it does telling us what food our kids eat in school lunch­es or what health insur­ance we must buy under penal­ty of law.  This is NOT a “usu­al­ly” true state­ment, it is The Truth.

 

Jim Beers