Coyotes have a bad reputation for stealing chickens and killing small pets. Is it deserved? Are coyotes intruding in space that humans have carved out for themselves? Should they be removed? Do we need coyotes in our environment?
Coyotes are an important part of the ecosystem, whether people like them or not. In Grand Island, there has been much discussion and debate about what to do about coyotes, including trapping on public lands. I don’t think that trapping on public land is a good idea. I went to a presentation on coyotes on March 22nd and was requested to write an article about that presentation for the March 24th issue of the Island Dispatch.
|Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada|
Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada was invited by the Citizens Coalition for Wildlife and the Animal Advocates of Western New York to give a presentation on how humans can co-exist with coyotes. Lesley provided a lot of information about the world of coyotes. She also pointed out that Grand Island has a “beautiful community of wildlife.”
Here are a few coyote facts:
|Anyone interested was asked to
submit coyote artwork. Many did,
including a group of fifth graders. This
is my portrait of coyote.
- coyotes are born blind, like puppies and kittens. Their eyes open when they are about ten days old. The mortality rate for coyote pups is high. If they survive, the pups are taught by their parents the skills that they need to function as coyotes.
- orphaned coyote pups cannot survive.
- the gestation period for coyotes is 62 to 63 days. Coyotes are able to breed in their first year of life.
- coyotes are pack animals. They live in stable family groups. Coyotes mate for life. Only the alpha pair mate and they produce somewhat small litters. Both coyote parents help to raise their young. The female feeds the babies and the male hunts for food.
- coyotes are territorial. They maintain their territory and they protect it from coyotes that are not part of their family.
- coyotes eat rodents, fruit, and insects. They will eat anything. They also eat ticks. They clean up carrion. “They do a great service. They are mother nature’s cleanup crew. They are so in tune and connected with the land. We can learn a lot from them,” Lesley said.
- coyotes are “resilient, curious, and creative hunters and foragers. They are opportunistic omnivores and are adaptable, intelligent and resourceful.”
- Unfortunately, the reaction of human beings to coyotes is “fearful and lethal. We don’t want them in the community; move them out.”