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Letter: Hazing Coyotes Protect the Animals and Humans

It’s no secret I like coyotes. In fact, part of my job as Wildlife Outreach Specialist at the Wolf Conservation Center in New York is to address the rampant misinformation so widely circulated about coyotes. That is why I felt compelled to respond to Leo Maloney’s Op-Ed that is rife with misrepresentation of coyote behavior.

Maloney implies throughout his piece that the DEC’s recommendation – the same shared by multiple scientific agencies – to haze coyotes away from human development is not an effective strategy, and he alleges that a better method is simply to shoot coyotes on sight. Though he accurately states, “The danger, especially to small pets or possibly small children, comes when coyotes become habituated to humans and become especially bold,” he then dismisses the efficacy of hazing techniques despite the fact that these methods have been proven effective at limiting human-coyote conflicts. Instead, he suggests that it’s best that readers remove the potentiality of conflict by simply eliminating coyotes from the landscape.

Maloney also pointedly ignores that the best available science recognizes that lethal control is an ineffective means of curbing coyote numbers. He says, “My feeling [is] that the best way to reduce the number of coyote conflicts is to reduce the number of coyotes.” Contrary to his personal belief, studies have shown that when coyotes are lethally managed their population actually exhibits a “rebound effect” which causes a marked population increase. This is because indiscriminate killing of coyotes disrupts pack structure, which ultimately results in an increase in breeding pairs in the area. Yet in a stable pack structure, coyotes effectively limit their own population growth.

Additionally, indiscriminate killing of coyotes won’t actually eliminate conflicts. If an area’s coyotes aren’t causing public safety issues, there is no need for lethal removal. Hazing and attractant-removal are crucial in preventing wildlife from becoming too comfortable around humans. Additionally, coyotes actively defend their territories from intruder coyotes. Why remove coyotes that have exhibited no sign of inappropriate behavior at the risk of opening up the territory to individuals who do not know the “rules” of the area?

Letter originally published in the Oneida Daily Dispatch in response
to Leo Maloney’s April 3rd op-ed, DEC warns people to avoid coyotes.

Written by Dana Goin, Wolf Conservation Center Wildlife Outreach Specialist.

For questions, please reach out to Dana at [email protected]