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Coyotes Nova Scotia



After my last umpteenth post on the coyotes in Nova Scotia issue I kind of made a promise to myself to stop writing about coyotes, hunting coyotes, coyote news and so forth.

However, I find myself having to do it one more time because of the latest news that, Gasp!!  coyotes have been seen in Victoria Park in Truro and a deer that was probably killed by coyotes was found in the park. Yup. The news reporters have discovered the following:

1) coyotes live in the woods/parks and;

2) they kill deer.

That of course brought the so called “coyote cull” to the suppertime news on CBC yet again, as they mentioned the sightings and deer kill in Truro. That prompted some comments, most of them positive towards the coyote cull with some exceptions.

That’s when I decided that I was going to write yet one more time about coyotes, coyote hunting and coyote culls.

First of all, as this is my show, I get to say what I think, the magic of blogging I guess. You are welcome to comment, but remember, I can edit or delete your comments, again, the magic of blogging. I won’t delete them, even if you disagree, I just like saying that I can…..

“The Coyote Cull”

I have no idea who first coined that phrase, it sounds like it may be political, a way of avoiding the phrase, “coyote bounty” but perhaps a reporter thought it a good way to describe what the government announced as their answer to what the public percieve as a coyote problem in Nova Scotia.

That on the heels of the young woman being killed in the National Park in Cape Breton by some coyotes.

Her unfortunate death, a terrible disaster really, has added a great deal of fuel to the media’s apparent need to report on coyote sightings everyday. If bin laden had of got the attention we seem to be giving coyotes lately, I’m sure we’d have caught him by now.

The government’s answer to what quickly became a “big coyote problem” was to provide money to licenced fur trappers, $20 a pelt, for each coyote they trap. That isn’t money to the general hunter outdoorsy guy or gal, that is money to licenced fur trappers or “harvesters” in the politically correcst venacular.

So it really isn’t a “bounty” as much as it is a supplement to the fur harvesters to encourage them to put some additional effort into trapping coyotes. I am sure that the government hope was that the addition of the extra financial incentive made it appear that they were doing something about the large number of coyotes absolutely terrorizing running amok in Nova Scotia.

It does not pay anything to Joe Hunter who goes coyote hunting on Saturday or Jane Hunter who comes across a coyote while rabbit hunting and shoots it. Just licenced trappers. And right now it’s apparently fairly lucrative as far as trapping can be lucrative, just look at the number of coyotes that the trapper in Nova Scotia reported last week in the paper, I think it was over 60 so far this year. There’s no doubt, “Thar’s ki-outs in them thar woods!”

“Killing Coyotes Increases Coyotes”

The above statement  has become something used and to some extent twisted by those in society who think that hunting coyotes is wrong. The animal lovers who, if a coyote ate their poodle in front of them on the lawn, would, apparently say, “That’s OK, little Fido shouldn’t have made the coyote mad, the coyotes have as much right to my lawn as little Fido did.

These folks are using a comment from the wildlife biologists and other experts (who are wrong as much if not more than right in my opinion) who say that coyotes numbers fluctuate and their litter sizes fluctuate based on factors. Mostly those factors are food availability. If there is food available, the coyote litter numbers go up, if there is no food available, the coyote litter sizes go down. It’s the work of mother nature who magically arranges for smaller litters when times get tough in coyote land. I suppose this could be interpreted to say that if they are hunted, therefore their competition for food numbers down, they will have bigger litters, but I don’t believe it is what was intended by the original statement.

This has been twisted into ‘coyote numbers go up when they are hunted” I do not believe that statement, taken as it sounds is correct. What I do accept or believe is that coyote litters might get larger, if there is coyote hunting going on, because there are obstensibly fewer coyotes, therefore more available food for the ones who manage to dodge a bullet or sidestep the proverbial snare or trap. I would go farther and say that the coyote numbers are probably higher than ever because the number of hunters is lower than ever. Coyotes don’t have to compete with Rob and Pete and their rabbit hound shooting 10 rabbits on a Saturday in January, cause Rob and Pete are in the camp playing world of war games on the computer, and the rabbit hound has died of boredom.  No one hunting rabbits=more rabbits=more coyotes. The same goes for deer and other wildlife on the coyote menu, which by the way, is almost everything. So don’t give us that crap, and that is what it is, coyote crap, about coyote numbers going up when they are hunted.

By the way, hunted or not, trapped or not, coyote culled or not, I don’t believe man alone can make much difference to the coyote numbers in Nova Scotia. It comes down to food, available food. Easy winters, without much snow, thank you global warming, make deer numbers increase, more deer=more coyotes…you get the picture.

“Why Are Coyotes Being Seen?”

First of all, since coyotes first landed in Nova Scotia sometime in the 1970’s , they have been seen, sometimes in large numbers. Ask the sheep farmers around Pictou what it was like back in the late 70’s early 80’s. There was a big hubbabaloo about it then too, but at that time, it was mostly sheep they were killing. Then cats and dogs started going missing around rural areas. Coincidentally, “the coyote in the neighborhood sightings” were up then too, around the same time the whitetail deer herd in Nova Scotia peaked at a huge number, brought on by mild winters.  I remember back then a news report about a coyote chasing a boy on a bicycle, somewhere around Sheet Harbour I think. I remember how we could hear them howling at night across the lake from our cottage, particularly in the late winter.

The deer herd dropped back down to more normal levels and much of the talk about coyotes got quiet. That’s because the coyote numbers went down a bit. They were still there, quietly eating their fill of deer and rabbits, mice and voles etc, but not as many of them because their was still lots of food. And the food, was generally staying in the woods.

But then something happened. Coyotes started showing up again. Usually right after you’d hear someone say, “I saw a deer on the road this morning driving to work.” or “There was a deer in our backyard last night.”  Some of that has to do with us, now moving out into the suburbs around the same time that coyotes were moving in to the city for easy suppers. Cats and dogs folks, and other small animals abound in urban areas, and a daschund tied to the veranda is much easier to catch than a deer in the woods. We’ve moved into the woods more and more, places that are now houses just outside of town, are places that we used to hunt deer, rabbits and even bears.

I remember a friend of mine who used to trap coyotes back in the 1980’s. When I asked him where he got most of his success, it wasn’t in the woods outside of town, it was in the woods on the outskirts of town, close to the suburbs, close to civilization. Coyotes seem to like civilization. That might be because, for all intents and purposes, and I have said this before, there isn’t much danger of being shot on Main Street in Anytown. Much more likely to run into a .30-30 bullet in the field beside a farmhouse in the country. If I was a coyote, I think I’d move to town too.

“I Saw A Coyote”

Maybe you did, and maybe you didn’t. Coyotes didn’t get this far by being obvious. They are pretty crafty, and pretty careful about showing too much of themselves, although as their numbers increase, so do our chances of seeing one. But on the other hand, look at a coyote picture, are you sure the animal in your backyard is a coyote and not a dog? I remember one time in particular where I let a coyote live because I thought he was a dog, albeit a shaggy dog. As far as coyote tracks are concerned, well….a coyote track is essentially the same as a dog track, so if you are in a place where dogs sometimes are, and so are coyotes, good luck telling them apart. The only clue might be where the coyote walks. They like the centre of woods roads, and the edges of clearings and they love to have a crap in the middle of the trail or woods road, don’t ask me why. They also often travel in pairs at least.

Coy-dogs or Coy-wolfs or Coyotes?

Coyotes in Eastern North America, are said to be diffferent from coyotes in the west. Different because of either natural selection making them bigger in order to rundown bigger game like deer and moose etc, and or because they may have inter-bred with wolves in Central North America on their journey eastward. I have definitely seen some big coyotes, easily as big as german shepards, or wolves, but I have seen a few that weren’t much bigger than a border collie, so perhaps that depends. Who knows for sure what the Eastern Coyote really is. Are they the product of dogs and western coyote intermingling? are they the crossbred offspring of coyotes and wolves? Are they simply the smaller western coyote that has evolved into a bigger animal for survival here? I don’t think there is much question, they are a bigger breed, and perhaps that too adds to their penchant for being around people, they are bigger, more aggressive and their large size requires more food to sustain them.

Coyotes are a part of nature, a part that is apparently here to stay, whether we cull them or not. However, perhaps with some culling, and with some hunting, real hunting, where they start to equate man with danger, and go the other way, we can get them back in check, or at least back in the woods.

I remember a time when the proverbial wisdom was that there was nothing in Nova Scotia woods to hurt a human, no poisonous snakes, no poisonous spiders or insects, no wolves, no wolverines, and the bears were for all intents and purposes, harmless. That has certainly changed, I think for the worst. Cats dogs, little kids and even adults are now potential targets for coyotes looking for their supper.

Personally, while I welcome the opportunity to go hunting for coyotes, I think they are 1) a problem and 2) cool to have around. I know, that is a mixed message if there ever was one, but it is how I feel. I like knowing that there are bears in the woods too, but that doesn’t mean I want to wrestle one over a tasty speckled trout on my favorite early summer trout stream. But it doesn’t mean I want them all killed either. I’m pretty fond of the idea that bears will move on quickly when they hear or see a man coming, I would like coyotes to have the same idea.

With any luck at all, the coyotes will get the raccoons in check. I have personally noticed that raccoons are much more common around the city these days. We had a family in the backyard a few months ago and I saw a gigantic raccoon getting into someone’s garbage about a 3 weeks ago. But because raccoons, at least  to date haven’t killed anyone yet, they are not making the evening news…..

And finally on this subject. There are a lot of “nuts in the world” and yes, I might very well be one of the biggest. But I so hate listening to the ones who say that we shouldn’t shoot a coyote or a deer or a bear or a raccoon or a rat or a mouse. I love nature as much as the next guy or girl, but I know man has a part in it as well, and part of our role, along with protecting it, is to keep it in check, whether that be water levels, forest fires or coyotes…so spare me any BS about not killing anything.

To quote a bumper sticker about Afghanistan and Iraq, anyone who disagrees with the war (on coyotes or insurgents) is welcome to stand between me and them.

I welcome your comments and thoughts on coyotes in Nova Scotia or anywhere else for that matter……


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