Coyotes Are Good Guys

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

 

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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.

23 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.

  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 !!!!!

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