Pity the Poor Coyote. Or Not

There is this tension between your basic jobbing journo’s tree-hugging proclivities and his local paper employer’s need to stay on the good side of readers who hunt. Never have I seen a better example of this push-me, pull-you pressure than in the Worcester Mass Telegram, under the banner “Outdoors: Coyote war nears acme.” Beep beep! If only the depicted but by-lineless scribe shared his headline writer’s humor. Right from the git-go, the man is seriously conflicted: “A temporary ceasefire in the man-coyote war begins Monday as hunting season closes. Though some adore them, more locals fear or revile coyotes, whose population has spread dramatically. But what’s not to like about the poor-man’s wolf? They’re a farmer’s best friend, devouring crop-damaging rodents. They feast on garden-ravaging woodchucks. And after deer season, they provide challenging hunting opportunities.” You can’t make this NSFW up . . .

If you’re a local farmer, you have to love coyotes, which protect your crops, except maybe when they kill your chickens or small livestock. They rile up local animosity, too, when they eat house cats that people put out at night. Feeding occasionally on under-25-pound, Dachshund-sized pets, they lose friends among dog owners, too. Most people are overly afraid of coyotes, though, since they normally avoid humans. There are exceptions, however; a female jogger was attacked recently in Canada, and there have been several documented attacks on prey-sized children.

So shooting Coyotes is bad? I mean good? Wait. Bad. No. Good. Both? Neither?

Some believe that the Alpha male and female that dominate an area are, because of their prominence, the most likely to be killed. Theoretically and counterintuitively, their deaths may actually lead to an increase in the coyote population because hitherto sub-dominant non-breeders previously kept from reproducing by the Alpha pair may quickly assume breeding privileges.

Well, good OR bad, here’s the cool gun bit. You know; for those who enjoy that kind of thing.

This late in the season, coyotes are wary of hunters and bringing them in close is challenging. Many hunters have saved their deer carcasses to bait them within range. They use .22-250’s, .22 Hornets, .222’s, .223’s or shotguns — guns that won’t destroy prime pelts. The predator caller uses his skills to imitate wounded rabbits, legally hunting only until midnight, without artificial lights. Full moons are ideal for hunting.

Rifles are legal during daylight hours. However, rifles larger than a .22 long rifle and pistols and revolvers larger than .38 caliber aren’t permitted for night hunting. Shotguns are the gun of choice when the sun goes down. On our Wildlife Management Areas, you can use only shotgun or bow during pheasant and quail season, but when that season ended, rifles became legal there, too.

And that’s . . .  good?

On Monday, when the truce between coyotes and us begins, it will be their time to howl and make pups in peace, before our undeclared war resumes next October.

Glad we got that figured out. See you again here, same time next year?

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