A legendary reputation...

     Most people are afraid of coyotes. They run in packs, howl eerily at the moon, and are meat eaters. Their intelligence is legendary. They have never been on an endangered species list because they have always been considered pests that need to be kept under control. There are no states in which you can not hunt coyotes, and some places even offer bounties on them.

  While other animal populations have dwindled with the advance of modern civilization into their natural habitats, coyotes have adapted themselves to changing environments and continue to flourish.  They have even reappeared in some places where they had been purposely eradicated due to hunting and wildlife management. The most well-known of this phenomenon are eastern coyotes, and they are not only bigger and stronger than their forebears, they also outsize their western cousins.  

      Coyotes are amazing creatures.  But they are afraid of humans, and while they have adapted themselves to suburban (and sometimes even urban) areas, they are very clever at keeping out of sight.  It is more common to hear a coyote than to see one. What's more, while they are family-oriented animals, they are also extremely territorial, and -- by nature -- will never over-populate a particular area.

   Dr. Way has been tracking and studying the eastern coyotes of Massachusetts for over ten years. His findings show that efforts to manage coyote populations have actually increased their numbers, which has brought about reluctance in fish and game departments to even consider hunting limitations. Yet, the coyote -- when left to itself -- will not only stabilize its own numbers but help keep rodent and rabbit populations in check, as well.


Are coyotes dangerous
to humans?

     Dr. Way would like to see the same tolerance given coyotes as are allotted to the wolf, bear, or mountain lion.  Predators such as these are respected not only as a necessary part of our ecological balance, but for their wildness itself.  

    
      Coyotes are not only less aggressive to humans than those mentioned above, they are even less dangerous than dogs.  Like everything else in nature, the more you know and understand about an animal, the more you care about it.

Dogs vs. Coyotes

There are 4.7 million dog bites per year in U.S., with 1,000 people per day who go to emergency rooms for treatment.

On an average, 15-20 people die from dog attacks per year

► There have been only 3-4 coyote bites in the history of Massachusetts,  2 of which were rabid

►There has been only 1 fatality from coyote attack in recorded history in North America.

Dog bite losses exceed $1 billion per year in the U.S., with $345 million paid by insurance.

    To that end, Dr. Way has written a book called, Suburban Howls, that allows readers to accompany him on some of his most exciting tracking adventures. In it he shares candidly about such experiences as being personally recognized by the coyotes, clashing with local hunters, and even raising a handful of doomed coyote pups


The more who know, the more will care...

 



     Going a step further, he has developed and organized Eastern Coyote Adventures, where he takes tracking teams made up of young people (and interested adults!) into the field on actual tracking sessions, where they can help handle and collar wild coyotes, and journal their activities with him.

 

 

 

   His dream is to build public awareness and eventually effect legislation enough to develop a designated wildlife observation sanctuary within the town of Barnstable (most national parks already have this), where the greater part of his research takes place.  But he has faced some heavy opposition.

 

How others can help...

     Over the past year, many of his radio-collared coyotes have been targeted and shot by local hunters and his research permits to study other coyotes who have taken their place, repeatedly denied.  Dr. Way was able to keep pace with these setbacks only by working in collaboration with fellow research biologists, and also a widespread letter campaign that went out to the Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick; Town Manager of Barnstable, John C. Klimm; and  the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

     At the time of this writing (fall of '07) the permits are promised but still pending.  In the meantime, he is down to only four or five collared coyotes remaining, and an open hunting season in full swing.

     
    You can help Dr. Way by joining his letter campaign to the Massachusetts State Legislature, donating to his non-profit organization to help him obtain and maintain his equipment and continue his studies, or by purchasing his book, Suburban Howls, directly from his web site
(preferred) or through Amazon.com.  

 

    And if you happen to be one of the many people who find yourself living in "coyote country," Dr. Way makes the following suggestions to help make living with coyotes easier, and also to help combat this widespread misunderstanding of them in your own piece of the wilderness:

 

Doís and Doníts in Coyote Country

1. Chase them away and make noise (bang pots and pans) if you donít want them in your yard. Of course, if you donít mind them then watch from a window quietly as to not scare them away.

2. Make noise when you are outside especially if coyotes are often in your area (like a den site nearby). They will change their course of direction when they hear people. You can also bring a whistle or horn to scare them away from you.

3. Do not feed coyotes or other wild animals. If you are feeding birds or other animals (like raccoons) things like suet, seeds, or table scraps, coyotes will be attracted to your yard just like any other animal looking for an easy handout.  Do not feed your pets outside for the same reason A habituated coyote is a potential problem coyote.

4. Do not let your cat outside if you are truly concerned with its health. Coyotes are just one of many mortality factors for outdoor cats.

5. Do leash your dogs. Although coyotes may follow a leashed dog out of curiosity, it is extremely rare for them to actually get within contact of your pet.

While you try to minimize your conflicts by following these simple precautions, try also to enjoy the presence of coyotes and the fact that having this wily predator to watch adds to the mystique of your neighborhood. 

 

 


If you would like to read an interesting experience Dr. Way shared with us, visit our coyote wildlife page over at
Wilderness Kids Club.  Just click on the picture to go there:
 

"Look deep, deep, deep into nature... then you will understand everything better."

Albert Einstein                                           

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Last updated: December 03, 2015.