Coyotes Are Good Guys
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Coyotes are an important connection in Nature because they play a critical role in keeping natural areas healthy. Coyotes are a keystone species, meaning that their presence or absence has a significant impact on the surrounding biological community. Keystone species like the coyote can have a regulatory effect on smaller predator  populations, which allows prey of the smaller predator species to survive. For example, since small predators, especially fox, cats, opossum, and raccoon, consume eggs and small or young ground nesting birds, an increase in the smaller predators can greatly affect bird populations. Coyotes prey on these small predators, keeping the small predator population in check.

One study found that sage grouse benefit from the presence of coyotes, because coyotes reduce the number of nest predators; limit jackrabbit populations, which in turn limits the presence of eagles (which prey on sage grouse eggs and young); and reduce the number of competitors eating plants that sage grouse eat.

By exerting a top-down regulation of other species, coyotes maintain the balance in the food web below and around them. When coyotes are absent or even just greatly reduced in a natural area, the relationships between species below them in the web are altered, putting many small species at risk.

The attitude of those government organizations who “manage” public lands is that the coyote is a “nuisance species”. This opinion does not come from any environmentally sound research. Instead, the source of information that enables government approved coyote eradication programs is the agriculture industry because coyotes occasionally prey on a rancher’s livestock. 

I find it interesting that endangered species are carefully monitored by wildlife “managers”, but that same concern is not offered to the all important keystone species such as the coyote.

 

Worth Your Extra Attention : USFWS Is Killing Coyotes

A twice-winning Pulitzer Prize journalist writes about the US Government’s killings of coyotes despite their contribution to the balance of Nature

Also take a look at Coyote Watch Canada

 

Why Do I Write These Essays?

 

Nothing in Nature exists in isolation. The movement of life’s energy, which originates in the sun, takes place because everything is interconnected and interdependent. Your consciousness of interdependence in Nature means that, every time you engage Nature, you ask yourself how a creature, a plant, yourself, or a natural object is connected to another and to Nature’s greater scheme of things. With this awareness you are prepared to protect Nature’s environment that sustains you. And, you create your legacy by encouraging others to do likewise.

 

If, after reading my essays, you find yourself embracing these ideas, I am thrilled in knowing that I’ve played some small part in setting this world view in motion in your mind.

 

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My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.

41 Responses to “Coyotes Are Good Guys”

  1. Debbi says:

    This was very informative. We don’t usually think of coyotes as being the “good guys.” Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

    • Thanks Debbi: You might check my reply to Emma above.

      • mildred schlaugerhammer says:

        ..i beg to differ..coyotes are menaces..they eat cats, which keep other nuisance pests/vermin down-esp in urban areas where rats are a concern..
        ..furthermore, they can mix with wild dogs that have pitbull in them…subsequently, increasing there aggressive behavior that makes them even more dangerous

        • Hi Mildred: Thanks for your comment. We could probably go round and round on this issue. I am absolutely delighted to see you expressing an opposing viewpoint. Perhaps others will join in the discussion.

          • Letitia says:

            I love cats, but one of the many useful things coyotes do in urban areas is to help keep the burgeoning feral cat population in check. Cats kill many birds, small mammals and reptiles and do not discriminate between endangered species and unwanted pests like rats. So coyotes may be a menace to cats, but that does not mean they are “bad.”

          • Hi Letitia: Thanks for the comment. I completely agree with you.

          • Nancy White says:

            There are several groups in Saunders county, Nebraska killing coyotes by guns and running them to death. This area is mainly a crop county and hardly any farm animals. What can I do to stop the killing of coyotes and what can I do to show the farmers that coyotes are good for their crops by eating the mice and other varmints that destroy their crops. I need information so I can deliver it to the farmers so they will post No Hunting signs on their fence posts. These young hunters mostly high school age are boasting at the Memphis, Nebraska beer joints that they blew up the coyote heads with a shot gun. Is this right to let them continue to murder the helpless coyote? The coyotes are just trying to survive in a world of human terror. Another name for your book. I hope you take this seriously and help me.

  2. Thanks for this very illuminating post. It has totally
    changed my perspective about coyotes, whose numbers are
    increasing here in urban areas of the SE. Many friends have lost small pets to coyotes in recent years so it’s interesting to gain new insights into their beneficial purpose in the cycle of nature.

    • Thanks for commenting. In the course of writing this blog over the last two years and in the course of researching the four Amazon books I’ve written, I have found that all creatures have a role of some sort within Nature. I think that we humans need to develop a “connectivity consciousness” when we look at any part of Nature. By this I mean, we must develop the habit of asking how something is interconnected in Nature before we develop an opinion. It is an unfortunate fact that much of “wildlife management” by government agencies is not well thought out. I am delighted that my post has permitted you to give pause to how a creature in Nature might be fulfilling an important ecological role rather than simply being a “nuisance animal” to we humans.

      • Bill, thank you! I have forwarded this article to as many friends as I can and posted on facebook. I feel so sorry for urban coyotes and how they are being pushed out with really no place left to go in the city. I see it a lot and it is very upsetting.

  3. Thank you Bill, Emma, and Debbi. In addition to what you all have already posted, Coyote, is also part of folklore and indigenous teachings. There are many stories of Coyote as Trickster, causing havoc for others and Himself! I invite you to explore Coyote tales (tails). We all have moments in our lives when things seem to go awry, at those times look for Trickster in the mix!

    If you haven’t already played with a deck of Medicine cards you might like to give it a try! Each card has a teaching for us a humans–stories and animal wisdom are our guides. Coyote has much to teach but we have to respect and learn Coyote language to really hear and learn what He (She) has to say.

    We currently live on South Whidbey Island and frequently hear Coyote calling at night. There is a den nearby. When I lived in Southern California as a young single mom, I would come home for work to find Coyote in my driveway.

    This year on the way to watch our local fireworks display, Coyote crossed our path on the highway. Something’s up, I said to my husband, Coyote appeared.

  4. Thank you for your interesting and educational blog. I live in Australia and have never been fortunate to see a Coyote. I know all animals are important not only in nature, but also as part of our soul and spirit. That is the reason that I am a fruitarian as well as being the only preventative to all diseases.
    Thank you kindly for sharing your informative and wonderful blog.
    Best regards
    George

  5. I live in Los Angeles County where coyotes are a fairly common sight. I’m always thrilled when I see one. Recently LA wildlife control rescued one from a snare trap but unfortunately the poor thing died a week later. Apparently snare traps are legal if permitted. I agree that the government’s “management” of wildlife is misguided and usually serves private interests rather than the public and certainly not the animals. We really have to be vigilant advocates for wildlife in order to change things.
    Here’s a great group working toward that: http://www.projectcoyote.org/
    And here’s an NRDC petition against Wildlife Services: http://bit.ly/18MWkYW

    Thanks so much for writing about this. I love coyotes. We have to learn to coexist with our wild animals, not kill them off.

    • Thanks for your comment Susan. I’ve sent in my NRDC petition letter. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I am amazed with all the negative pressure on Wildlife Services that they are still operating. Somehow, I get the strange feeling that the farmers and ranchers are in the middle of this.

  6. The photo here is of a fox…
    Nonetheless, the persecution of coyotes is good for no one, and has led to some staggering setbacks in conservation (e.g. the California Condor decline). The cult of wildife management definitely needs a reality check.

  7. Great article. LOVE the photo, but I think that’s a red fox. Have read (today) next to photos of them that they were begging on the roadside, so they apparently do that, just like coyotes.

    Pretty sure a key ID mark in the field is the color of the tail tip (’cause the rest of the coloration can vary SO much). The coyote has a black-tipped tail, and the red fox has a white-tipped tail. I’ve done a good amt. of wildlife fieldwork, tho’ not these spp., but that IS why I’m pretty sure the tail tip color is pretty important/reliable.

    THANK you for lauding coyotes. I LOVE them, and they’re SO important, ecologically. I’m grateful they’ve been so resilient, so far. =)

    • I want to thank Samantha and Sean for correcting my photo misidentification. I am told the image is that of a Red Fox. I captured the image 3-4 years ago on a lonely highway in British Columbia. The animal was very bold, coming right up to my truck looking for food. Just off the road was an open cave-like den with another adult and some kids. I am certainly not a wolf/coyote expert ( my field is large whales ), but because of the behavior and the size of a medium dog, I assumed it was a coyote.

  8. carol deech says:

    One of the most misunderstood animal, I think most of the problem is education. Instead of USFW service killing or having hunting season they should be explaining how important they are to the eco system to community outreach groups.
    The same people that do not want these animals complain about the deer and raccoon population. Let nature take care of itself.

  9. Maria Schnier says:

    Bill, your article is currently on a Facebook page: “Ban Wildlife Killing Contests in New York State”. If you’re on Facebook you might want to check it out. Coyote are allowed to be hunted from Oct-March, any time, day or night in NY State. Coyote-killing contests are becoming popular along w/other animal-killing contests. It’s atrocious the power & influence these hunting clubs have over “our” government.

  10. barbara whelan says:

    please tell me what to do about a community who wants to trap and euthanize coyotes in Tega Cay SC.. How do I stop them. Who should I contact. Local government council voted to rid our community of these coyotes and I want to try to stop this action.

    • Hi Barbara: Thanks for your comment. It is my opinion that you cannot stop predator eradication alone. The mentality of people who kill predators is hard to change. I do not know what local conservation groups might exist in your area, but working with a group of like minded people is always better than working alone. You might search the Internet for local chapters of the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, or Nature Conservancy. They have experience in these kind of things and can guide you. Also,start a petition to discover who the other preople in your area agree with you. Best wishes !!!!!

  11. Thank you for your article. most people focus on their own frustrations about coyotes without looking at the bigger picture, everything we do that disrupts the natural balance will eventually come back to haunt and ultimately destroy us. The vital roll of the coyote in maintaining balanced survival rates of other smaller animals is crucial.

  12. Gregg Scurka says:

    Great article, i have been saying the same thing to people for a couple yrs now. Trying to raise awareness through education not erratication. Im in massachusetts and have been documenting a family of eastern coyotes for about 2 yrs mom and dad are on their 2nd litter, first litter was 3 pups 2nd litter is 5 pups. Amaizing to see their lives and learn about them. Anyway great article. Check out “coyotes of tewksbury” on youtube.

  13. Robert Harencame says:

    Coyotes might serve some purpose but here in So Cal there are so many nothing else can survive. They’ve cleaned out the possums, I haven’t seen a possum in years. Raccoons are scarce as are rabbits. But I see plenty of coyotes, they also kill a lot of pet dogs and cats.
    I’m not a fan, I see them as vermin. Some states put a bounty on them, and they never run out of coyotes. You have to give the devil he’s due coyotes are very smart and capable of surviving anywhere.

  14. Robert Harencame says:

    Comment

    • Hi Robert. Thanks for your comments. I respectfully disagree with your description of coyotes as “vermin”. In my view, coyotes are as much a part of Earth’s ecosystems as we are. We are all interdependent creatures. I do not think that we humans are in a position to judge the value of other creatures just because they bother us. The state of our knowledge about Nature is such that we have no idea what will happen within an ecosystem if we try to destroy one creature. You might take a look at a wonderful video called “Lords of Nature” where great ecological errors were made when mankind tried to destroy the wolves (aka “vermin”) at Yellowstone National Park.

  15. @mildred schlaugerhammer – dogs should have never been domesticated but they were as a selfish act as was cats and now we have dilemmas because of it. Coyotes and wolves are natures dogs meant to be here poodles and chihuahuas were designed by man to fit our needs, again selfish and self-serving. Nature takes care of itself it is when man interferes the problems come. if you hate coyotes your hatred can be traced back to something that some human did for a selfish reason, not the right reason.

  16. Nichole D says:

    @mildred schlaugerhammer – everything has a purpose.

  17. Countless pets, livestock, and children — yes, children — get attacked by these things. And while rare, humans DO get killed. Children and women particularly.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote_attack

    Yeah, they serve their purpose, but part of it is trying to eat your housecat, small dog, kid or grandkid. Sure, it’s a good idea to respect all wildlife and hope for a balance in nature, but to act as if they are the most wonderful, innocent, useful creatures on earth with nothing to fear from is foolish. And the numbers are NOT decreasing by any means.

    Where I live — a fairly rural/suburban mixed area — house cats and barn cats (*NOT* feral ones, mind you) that keep the mice, rat and rabbit populations in check get taken, and they can be heard on some nights in large groups creepily yipping and howling from every direction, sometimes just in your backyard. They have been seen staring us down in our own yards and playing a cat and mouse game with deer in broad daylight in our back yards! In fact, just last night. Reading more online is how I found this and decide to respond.

    They can leap over up to 6 foot fences, run up to 40-45 MPH and snatch your pet or child standing right next to you, and while they may be relatively smaller than many domesticated dogs, in packs they can take down massive animals much bigger than them. Luring bigger animals into a trap to meet a gruesome and bloody death is common. In the northeast US, they have possibly up to 20% wolf in them, and they can grow BIG. I would not want to face them down alone in the woods unless I was armed and I don’t want them anywhere near my kids or cats.

    Keeping them in check via hunting and out of populated areas is perfectly reasonable, as there is NO shortage of them. However, there IS a danger when they start invading human populated areas. Especially little smiling old ladies who think it’s bad to shoot a nice doggy. Until they, their pets, their kids and/or grandkids get attacked that is.

    • Cordy says:

      Coyotes in urban / suburban areas are definitely a growing concern. They quickly become the apex predator and can easily take smaller dogs & pet cats. They are smart, fast moving and can scale one’s 6ft backyard fence grab your pet and go. I have no issue with them in the wilderness. However as they have advanced their territory into suburbia, solutions to limit / eliminate their numbers are necessary.

      • Hi Cordy: Thanks for your comment. I have mixed feelings about your “limit/eliminate” phrase. First, its a moral issue. Just because a creature is inconvenient to mankind, should we kill it?? For me, I prefer to explore how humans can adapt to a situation like you described while still maintaining a reverence for life. Also, your comments reminded me of the famous Yellowstone wolf story where wolves were killed off in Yellowstone NP in the early 1900’s due to urging of humans (hunters and ranchers). The entire ecosystem was changed and lots of bad things happened. Around 1990, the wolves were reintroduced and Nature (all by herself) brought the ecosystem back into equilibrium. The point is that we humans have no way of predicting the effect of our actions, such as culling, on an ecosystem. You might view the really great YouTube video called “Lords of Nature” to get the entire story.

  18. Dennis Browning says:

    Awesome information and very informative.
    Things I didn’t know about Coyotes.
    Thanks for the information.

  19. Wayde says:

    @Nancy White
    Until you provide food to the masses, you will just have to take the word of the 2 percent of America that feeds you.
    They destroy irrigation systems, destroy some crops, and hurt the deer population. Take a walk in my shoes and watch hundreds of hours of labor and thousands of dollars of microjets get chewed to pieces.

    • Thank you for comment. I welcome ALL points of view. I was a rancher myself years ago so I know where you are coming from. But, I respectfully submit that your deer population argument doesn’t hold water. An equilibrium population of deer and predators (not including human hunters) is certainly probable as long as humans are not in the equation. I submit that it is humans who affect the deer population through hunting and through killing off predators like coyotes and wolves. I am reminded of the Yellowstone wolf story where hunters and ranchers convinced the government to kill off the wolves. A huge disequilibrium ensued. When the wolves were re-introduced some 50 years later, Nature brought things back into equilibrium. There are numerous success stories where ranchers and farmers have found non-lethal means to live with predators. I wish you well.

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