Urban coyote. Image credit:Flickr, Dru Bloomfield - At Home in Scottsdale, excerpted from original.
Idaho has officially declared a "wolf disaster" and has just obtained an Endangered Species Act pass to allow for a controlled hunt. Ostensibly, the Idaho wolf hunt is about protecting sheep, because sheep ranchers experience the greatest wolf predation losses. Added incentive: tourist hunters are competing against locals to obtain a limited number of elk tags. Climate change, disease, or coal-bed methane impacts reducing elk numbers? Move along...nothing to see here.
In Connecticut, a coyote recently jumped a guy mowing his lawn. That's way beyond the usual cat & dog eating that urban coyotes are widely known for.This report in TheDay.com made me consider an added advantage of having sheep keep the lawn short.
Seamus Plyler was mowing the lawn at his house on Tantummaheag Road Sunday morning when he said a coyote the size of a large German shepherd attacked him.
"I saw it wandering around the field where I was mowing," Plyler, 22, said. He didn't think much of it, as foxes wander there frequently.
"It got closer, and I just kept on mowing, and it snuck up behind me and when I turned around, it was right there, and that's when it pounced on me," Plyler said. "It was like an all-out battle for like a minute and a half, two minutes."
Oft-overlooked, but important, points.
The Connecticut coyote attack has been linked to rabies. (Lawn mowing may not be as dangerous as it seemed after the first read.)
Rabies outbreaks affect pets and wildlife. Gets back to the 'who let the dog out' thing, as domestic animals intermingling with the wild ones can help spread rabies.
Drought entices wildlife into developed areas where people water the grass and set out dumpsters conveniently left propped open. Finding suburban prey easy to come by, the coyotes, for example, might decide to stick around even after the rains come back. Connecticut had a drought warning last August. Perhaps a coincidence. Perhaps not.
Wolves absolutely do not tolerate coyotes, as the two canids stongly compete for prey and territory. If you have coyotes, you don't have wolves and vice-verse. It's a clear-cut relationship.
Dogs are descended from wolves: ergo; a coyote sees any dog as threat and (possibly) as a meal. Keep this in mind when you let the poodle out in the back yard. Great Pyrenees, which might take on a coyote and win, don't make nice lap dogs, unfortunately.
"A Pyreneean Mountain Dog (aka Great Pyrenees) acting as a livestock guardian dog with a flock of sheep." Image credit:Wikipedia
It is very difficult and expensive to live-trap coyotes. Some trapping experts claim they can do it with careful technique and much effort; but it's not going to happen at a cost every municipal entity can afford.
There are no coyote repellents.
Poisoning is very risky for pets and children and is (justifiably) illegal.
There are rubber covered spring coil leg-hold traps but you still have to do something with a trapped angry live coyote. What? They travel hundreds of miles; so a local release would be a waste of time and money.
You can't go shooting out the suburban bathroom window when the motion light is triggered by a coyote.
What does PETA have to say about coyotes that eat their pets? A conundrum for them, I bet, that there's no easy way.
Cat lovers, this is about you.
Here's an interesting tidbit from neighboring Massachusetts:
Cats also kill many small mammals and birds and often leave the remains near their suburban homes. Coyotes will actively scavenge these dead animals and return to yards where they repeatedly find carrion.
Fencing for suburban coyote exclusion would be ugly and very costly. Plus, coyotes can dig under a fence (that does not go below ground along the entire length), or, can over-top a 6 foot high fence (unless there are rollers installed on the top).
Not to despair: Per the US Sheep Industry News, sheep producers are excited about the Muslim 'ethnic' market.
American Lamb is "Very Tender"
Recent research gives hope that the assimilation of the ethnic market into the commercial market can be realized with targeted marketing. Two underlying reasons likely drive the ethnic market: Demand for smaller-sized (lighter-weight) whole and half carcasses and second, demand for young lambs due to the perception that they are more tender. Recent research found that consumers perceive commercial lamb as "very tender" and second, there is a segment of the ethnic Muslim market that is quality-driven. If we can convince ethnic Muslim groups that all American lamb, including commercial lamb (140-lb. live) is tender, we might attract a lot of consumers.
(Considering my lamb chops with lilacs on the Mothers Day table, a burden of this pleasure would seem to be wolf tags filled by Idaho hunters.)
Jannah.org reports that Connecticut has a Muslim population of several thousand. Such is the case for many US states. Here's the win win solution. Have the USFWS live trap Idaho wolves and export them for re-establishment in every state within their former range: starting first with those states that are growth markets for Idaho lamb sales. Expanding wolf packs will drive out the coyotes as well as help curtail the frequency of deer-car collisions. And, liberals will learn about wolves first hand!