The New York Times on the growing problem of urban areas being invaded by dangerous wild animals . . . Coyotes Are Colonizing Cities. Step Forward the Urban Hunter.
Dennis Murphy sniffed the bobcat urine he uses to lure his prey. He checked the silencer on his AR-15 assault rifle and loaded a few snares into his Ford pickup.
“Let’s go kill some coyotes,” he said.
But he wasn’t heading for the wilderness. Mr. Murphy’s stalking ground is on the contentious new frontier where hunters are clashing with conservationists: cities and suburbs.
Predictably, animal rights types and hunting haters claim that people, rather than invasive species, are the real problem.
…The hunters have come after them, stalking the predators in settings like strip mall parking lots, housing tract cul-de-sacs, and plazas in the shadow of skyscrapers.
The growing popularity of urban hunting is igniting a fierce debate over the perils and benefits coyotes pose in populated areas, and whether city dwellers ought to adapt to living alongside a cunning predator that has thrived since one of its top adversaries, the gray wolf, has been all but wiped out in much of the continent.
And while hunting coyotes is actually legal in some populated areas, The Times makes sure to include examples of the inevitable problems.
Coyotes can be hunted legally in many built-up areas, but it sometimes leads to tragic mishaps. In New York State, a hunter in the upstate town of Sweden said he thought he was aiming his rifle at a coyote in February when he mistakenly shot a man in the abdomen. The hunter was charged with second-degree assault.
A licensed crossbow hunter in Readington Township, N.J., killed a family’s Alaskan shepherd after mistaking the dog for a coyote. A hunt in Pocatello, Idaho, went awry in March when an M-44 device, designed to propel a cyanide capsule into a coyote’s mouth, instead sprayed cyanide onto a 14-year-old boy, injuring him and killing his family’s dog.
Leave aside the documented instances of coyotes mauling and killing humans, we must remember that coyotes are people, too.
“Coyotes are complex sentient beings with individual personalities,” said Camilla H. Fox, the founder and executive director of Project Coyote, a conservation group. “This doesn’t mean that aggressive coyotes don’t exist, but we need to learn how to minimize conflicts in our cities, instead of making things worse,” she added, pointing to measures like securing garbage cans and keeping dogs on leashes in areas where coyotes may roam.
More than that, the privilege of coyotes moving into your neighborhood is something to be embraced by urban-dwelling humans.
“The coyotes among us provide an opportunity to live next to an animal indigenous to North America whose roots go back five million years,” said Dan Flores, a historian who explored the species’ evolution in his book “Coyote America.”
“This is a gift,” he emphasized, “to be reminded that we still live in a world that’s wild.”