A coyote and her cubs are walking through the wilderness. They happen to find a newly deceased deer. Their lucky day. As the mother coyote approaches and begins to nibble on the family’s next meal, a cyanide capsule is shot into her mouth, killing the animal shortly thereafter. The cubs will also likely die as a result.
My apologies for the disheartening story, but it displays the reality of everyday life for coyotes and thousands of other wild animals. Since 1895, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which is in charge of Wildlife Services, has been cruelly killing natural predators and disrupting the ecosystem.
If the murdering of thousands of animals isn’t enough to turn your stomach, maybe the fact that tax dollars help fund this slaughter, is.
At first glance, controlling the population of predators like coyotes seems reasonable. After all, these animals kill livestock, costing farmers money. All the same, all life is precious. Moreover, Wildlife Services, instead of finding a way to protect coyotes and potential prey, which is what the agency’s name implies it should do, pays for the hunting and killing of these animals.
This guns-blazing approach to environmental conservation is not only reprehensible, it also doesn’t solve any problems. In fact, it only exacerbates the situation.
It is well documented that when aggressively controlled, coyotes react by increasing their reproductive rate. According to The Human Society, these frightened animals “breed at an earlier age and [have] larger litters, with a higher survival rate among young. This allows coyote populations to quickly bounce back, even when as much as 70 percent of their numbers are removed.”
Not only are these lethal methods inhumane, they produce the opposite desired effect. In fact, according to the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, “regardless of the means used to stop damage, the focus should be on damage prevention and control rather than elimination of coyotes.”
Why does Wildlife Services automatically resort to execution, rather than exploring more eco-friendly, non-lethal options?
Good question. Ask the USDA.
Many such options exist that require less effort, less money and are far more effective than shooting coyotes and wolves from a helicopter—which is how they are often slaughtered. Wired fences and lights, for example, have proved to be an effective effective defense against predation.
But killing coyotes isn’t the only issue at hand. According to The Sacramento Bee, Wildlife Services has accidentally killed more than 50,000 animals since 2000, including many endangered species and federally protected wildlife. The Bee launched an investigation in 2012 into the inhumane practices of the Wildlife Services. Here is a rather disturbing tale of everyday work from one of the agency’s employees:
“There, strangled in a neck snare, was one of the most majestic birds in America, a federally protected golden eagle.
“I called my supervisor and said, ‘I just caught a golden eagle and it’s dead,’ ” said Strader. “He said, ‘Did anybody see it?’ I said, ‘Geez, I don’t think so.’
“He said, ‘If you think nobody saw it, go get a shovel and bury it and don’t say nothing to anybody.’ “
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act makes these birds some of the most protected animals on the planet. Unfortunately, the public rarely hears of about atrocities committed against them, as Wildlife Services continues to mislead and misdirect. Consider the agency’s mission statement “to provide Federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.”
By killing any animals, Wildlife Services is not allowing “people and wildlife to coexist.” If the agency must exist, and I believe it should not, it it definitely should not operate with funding from American taxpayers.
The next time a coyote finds a nice meal, may it be left alone and eat in peace.