Why We Hunt Coyote

Why We Hunt Coyote

Some people don’t understand why men and women from all over the country stay up late, endure chilling night winds, mosquitoes the size of small children, and spend thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment just to kill something that, for all intents and purposes, is just a wild dog.

However, while the coyote is indeed a canid, it does not belong to the same species as the domestic dog. A 2011 study by vonHoldt et. al. found that domestic dogs like poodles and boxers have more in common with the wolf than they do with the coyote. In fact, coyotes have less DNA in common with dogs (95%) than chimpanzees do with humans (99%).

The coyote, with its unpredictable nature and sharp instincts, is a master of adaptation in the wild. This skill serves it well in exploiting various food sources and thriving across diverse environments. Unfortunately, this adaptability often translates into trouble for livestock, especially vulnerable animals like sheep and calves. In 2020 alone, Utah witnessed the loss of a staggering 16,300 sheep to coyote predation, starkly contrasting with wolves, which accounted for fewer than 100 casualties in the same period. This disparity underscores the coyote's significant impact on agricultural communities and the urgent need for effective population management strategies.

The low number of wolf attacks can be attributed to the very small number of wolves in Utah. However, in states like Colorado, which recently advocated for a reintroduction of wolves into the state with no population management solution in place, it only took 4 months before the wolves became bold enough to attack human ranches. The next attack on livestock came a mere five days later, and the number of attacks will continue to increase because of the wolf’s nature as a carnivorous predator.

By simply existing, coyote packs inflict annual damages estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars across the United States. This financial toll highlights the urgent need for effective management strategies. Due to their adaptability and absence of natural predators in many areas, coyote populations can skyrocket if left unchecked. Hunting plays a crucial role by helping to keep their numbers in check and prevent them from overrunning ecosystems and wreaking havoc on other wildlife species.

Unchecked, coyotes can decimate local populations of rabbits, deer, and ground-nesting birds, sometimes permanently altering entire ecosystems. For instance, in the southeastern United States where coyotes have established themselves, they've outcompeted red foxes and other smaller predators. This displacement has ripple effects, potentially causing imbalances by allowing smaller prey species, typically controlled by these smaller predators, to flourish unchecked.

Think about what would happen if coyotes decimated the raccoons and skunk population in a particular region. These smaller predators help keep bugs like Japanese beetles in check. The beetles feed on crops like corn, soybeans, kale, and fruits. With less insectivores around, beetle numbers could skyrocket. That means less fresh food in our supermarkets and higher prices.

It's not just about missing out on tasty meals. It affects farmers who grow these crops. They depend on good harvests to support their families and communities. When coyotes mess with this balance, it causes a chain reaction that hurts everyone who relies on healthy, affordable food.

However, the people who most directly suffer from coyote predation are those in the livestock industry. Ranchers spend tens of thousands of dollars on fencing and livestock guardians like dogs and donkeys, but a cunning, determined coyote will eventually learn to exploit the weaknesses in a rancher’s defenses, after all one cannot win a war by being on the defensive.

Therefore, the most effective solution to tackle the coyote problem is through controlled hunting. By carefully managing their numbers, we can significantly reduce livestock predation and curb the economic losses that farmers face. This approach is widely seen as practical and necessary to strike a balance between protecting agricultural interests and maintaining ecological health.

Hunters in general have a profound respect for the environment and approach their task with a great sense of responsibility. It's rarely ever about machismo or proving one's toughness. In fact, it's a misconception that hunting is solely a man's domain. Many women are equally passionate and skilled hunters, drawn by the same motivations to safeguard farms and wildlife. A coyote hunt is a mission driven by a genuine desire to aid both people and nature.

For these hunters, whether they are men or women, the act of hunting coyotes goes beyond personal satisfaction. It's about protecting livelihoods and ensuring the sustainability of our ecosystems. They understand the delicate balance of predator and prey, and they appreciate the role that each species plays in maintaining a healthy environment.

So, as hunters trek through rugged terrain or patiently wait in the cold hours of the night, they do so with a reverence for the animals they pursue and a determination to mitigate the impact of coyotes on agriculture. It's a role that requires patience, skill, and a deep-seated respect for the interconnectedness of all living things—a commitment to ensuring that future generations inherit a world where both humans and wildlife can thrive.

Now it’s easier to understand why the coyote hunter, standing alone in a frosty field at 3 in the morning, peering through a high-tech Thermion 2 LRF XL50 thermal riflescope, does what he does. It might seem extreme to brave the cold and solitude just to track down a coyote, but for the hunter behind the riflescope, it's about more than just the thrill of the chase or marking another notch on the rifle stock. Coyotes are cunning predators that can devastate livestock and disrupt ecosystems.

Imagine the frustration of a rancher waking up to find another lost sheep or calf, their hard-earned investment gone in an instant. It's the emotional toll of seeing crops ravaged by unchecked pests when natural predators like coyotes aren't kept in check.

The coyote hunter is driven by a deep sense of responsibility and respect for the land and the people who make their living there, and he wants to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy the benefits of thriving farms and healthy ecosystems.

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