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.
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
Dr. Way would like to see the same tolerance given
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
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.
There are 4.7 million dog bites per year in
U.S., with 1,000 people per day who go to emergency rooms
average, 15-20 people die from dog attacks per year
have been only 3-4 coyote bites in the history of
Massachusetts, 2 of which were rabid
has been only 1 fatality from coyote attack in recorded
history in North America.
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
more who know, the more will care...
a step further, he has developed and organized Eastern Coyote Adventures,
where he takes tracking teams made up of young people (and
into the field on actual tracking sessions, where they can help
handle and collar wild coyotes, and journal their activities with
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.
others can help...
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.
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.
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.