ABOUT

This page examines the top myths presented by animal rights groups. Most of these arguments are purely emotional, lacking little if any scientific credibility. References to Project Coyote Science Advisors Robert Crabtree and Mark Bekoff are made to demonstrate the systematic cherry picking of information by Project Coyote and The Humane Society of the U.S. These groups know the general public relies on experts to help them understand complex issues and take advantage by supplying misinformation to confuse and manipulate the public's perception of hunting and urban coyote management.

Camilla Fox has claimed to be an expert on a multitude of wildlife issues. In 2009, Camilla Fox represented the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) as an expert witness challenging the incidental take of Canadian Linx by Maine trappers. Chief Judge John Woodcock Jr. stated "AWI's case consisted of numerous similar studies that have an attenuated (thin) relationship to the lynx in the state of Maine." "AWI's case contained a notable absence of Maine-generated, lynx-specific studies. It relied instead on extrapolations from studies about other animals in different regions to prove contentions about the lynx in Maine." "The Court has a sense of disquiet (feeling of anxiety or worry) about the extent to which Ms. Fox was testifying as an objective expert as opposed to an educated advocate." ANIMAL WELFARE INSTITUTE, et al., Plaintiffs, v. Roland D. MARTIN, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, Defendant. No. CV-08-267-B-W. United States District Court, D. Maine. November 10, 2009. LINK

These groups learned a long time ago they could bypass state wildlife agencies and expert biologists employed by state agencies by taking issues to the ballot box. In 1990, current HSUS President Wayne Pacelle told supporters in Full Cry magazine, “We are going to use the ballot box and the democratic process to stop all hunting in the United States… We will take it species by species until all hunting is stopped in California. Then we will take it state by state.” That is exactly what they are doing. Find a willing legislator, supply the public with their version of the facts, rinse and repeat.  HSUS

A recent example of manipulation of facts is included in a toolkit released by HSUS and Project Coyote in 2017.  Their toolkit is full of misleading and incomplete information but demonstrates another effective tool: using hunters and hunting groups to imply support for their policies. TOOLKIT
In this toolkit, these groups claimed "Wildlife killing contests, which target coyotes, foxes, bobcats, or even prairie dogs and pigeons, are grisly spectacles that are about as far as one can get from ethical, fair-chase hunting." implying the Boone & Crockett club share the same position on fair chase and predator hunting. On October 24, 2017 The Boone & Crockett club made their position clear by posting a response on the front page of their website stating. "We don't know if HSUS is uninformed or merely attempting to blur the lines to sway public opinion," "But trying to make it sound like the Club and sportsmen are against such contests because the methods used aren't considered fair chase shows a misunderstanding of the principles of fair chase, which were initiated more than 130 years ago by the Club's founder, Theodore Roosevelt. LINK

The negative unintended consequences of these groups are well documented. The Marin Nonlethal Livestock Protection Plan which Project Coyote claims to be a model for human coyote coexistence has led to reduced numbers sheep producers in Marin County  and more coyotes killed by ranchers as a direct result of taking away USDA trappers who focused their efforts on removing coyotes causing damage. Not less as claimed by Camilla Fox. This was documented by Dr. Stephanie Larson, UC Cooperative Extension, Livestock & Range Management Adviser to Sonoma & Marin Counties. The Marin County Predator Management Program: will it save the sheep industry?  LINK

These groups use misinformation as a weapon knowing they make up a vocal minority. These groups desperately need the public's support to fund their lobbying efforts and to push their misguided views on wildlife management.  Most of their time is spent fundraising, little to nothing is spent by Project Coyote or HSUS directly to improve the lives of animals.
​ 

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO STOP MISINFORMATION

You can stop the misinformation cycle by doing the following:

  • Ask for source information that supports claims made then carefully read the information. Is it an opinion piece? Is it an article published by another activist group?  
  • Does the information include carefully placed qualifying words like "can" or "may"? 
  • If given a peer reviewed study; carefully read the  entire study. Be sure to check sources and citations within the studies to ensure information was not taken out of context.
  • Are the biologists quoted experts on the subject with degrees related to the topic? Do they have extensive field experience on the topic? Are they associated with activist groups?
  • What do other experts not affiliated with activist groups say on the subject? 


POPULAR MYTHS ABOUT COYOTES

COYOTES SELF REGULATE

 The idea is that if humans leave coyotes alone, they will maintain their own numbers is probably the most outlandish bit of storytelling. 
From: "Coyote (Canis latrans)" by Marc Bekoff (Project Coyote Science Advisor) and Eric M. Gese December 2003.  LINK
Pregnancy Rate, Gestation and Liter Size: 
The percentage of females that breed in a given year varies with local conditions. Food supply is usually the prime factor, in good years, more females, especially yearlings, breed. Usually, about 60-90% of adult females and 0-70% of female yearlings will produce litters.  

Estimates of coyote populations densities throughout the West and Midwest are typically 0.2 to 1.5 coyotes per square mile but with occasionally 5 to 10 coyotes per square mile reported. Suburban coyotes in Southern California were found to occupy home ranges of only 0.25 to 0.56 square mile. This suggests that suburban environments are extraordinarily rich in resources for coyotes, leading to high densities.  LINK

With no natural predators throughout most of their range other than man coupled with an omnivorous diet and 60% to 90% of coyote females producing litters of 4 to 6 pups per year no reasonable person could possibly believe coyotes are capable of self regulation.     

WE'RE TAKING THEIR HABITAT

 The implied messages are these: We are building on historic coyote habitat; coyotes were here first; we are encroaching on their habitat; coyotes have a right to be here. Historically, human encroachment on wildlife habitat and loss of habitat have negatively impacted many wildlife species, but the coyote isn’t one of them. Coyotes have benefitted from human alterations to the North American landscape. While historically we’ve displaced coyotes in some places where cities and towns grew, at the same time coyotes have been spreading across the continent, perhaps more successfully than another mammal except humans. 

Consider states like California where 80% of the population lives in urban areas, only 6.8% of the land is considered developed. On average, 5.8% of the land in the lower 48 states is considered developed.  LINK
 

Ironically, in the past 20 years, we’ve witnessed a dramatic reversal of this encroachment process: coyotes are actually encroaching on our habitat, and they are doing so at an unprecedented rate. In metropolitan areas, predominately human habitat, we have created safe, superior habitat for coyotes. They aren’t forced to live among us – they choose to live among us. Therefore, we (i.e., property owners, city administrators, wildlife professionals) should be dictating where and how coyotes live, not vice versa. We shouldn’t have to be held captive in our own homes or backyards simply because coyotes have moved into our neighborhoods. Current policy should not consider urban pets simply “part of the food chain.” At some point, we need to draw a line on the asphalt and warn coyotes that they are now entering “people country.” 

COYOTES WERE HERE FIRST

 Modern coyotes were typically from the central plains areas of the U.S. and northern Mexico. If you look carefully at the historical range maps presented by the Humane Society of the U.S. (ABOVE) anyone could see the coyote has expanded its range from the central plains area of the U.S., North to Alaska and South to Central America. The common understanding is that coyotes migrated along with European settlement. Coyotes learned to exploit mans alteration of the landscape through irrigated agriculture and  livestock. 

The Nevada Division of Wildlife states: "Prior to the arrival of
European people in north America, coyotes were found only in
the central part of the U.S. and in northern Mexico." LINK

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife in their "Trapping
License Examination Guide Revised 01/14 states: Historically,
coyotes were most common on the Great Plains of North America.
They have since extended their range from Central America to the
Arctic, including all of the United States (except Hawaii), Canada,
and Mexico. California Department of Fish & Wildlife.  LINK

Some have pointed to fossilized remains of coyotes found in the
Rancho La Brea tarpits as evidence of coyotes living  in Los Angeles
before man. These remains found are of an extinct sub species of coyote
Canis Latrans Orcutti. This species went extinct during the late
Pleistocene Epoch which ended approximately 10 to 11 thousand years  ago.
LINK

If the argument is attempting to point out mans urban sprawl is taking away coyote habitat,  consider that even in states like California where 80% of the population lives in urban areas, only 6.8% of the land is considered developed. On average, 5.8% of the land in the lower 48 states is considered developed.  LINK  

This isn't a about who has rights to be here based on "dibs" or who got here first.  Many of those  claiming "coyotes were here first" live in major metropolitan areas of the U.S. most of which were settled by Native Americans, centuries before European settlement. In Los Angeles, the Tongva were living in Southern California 3,500 years ago LINK  In the Southwest U.S. (New Mexico, Arizona, Utah) the Navajo inhabited these areas in the 1400s.  LINK  In Chicago, one of the first major cities to study urban coyotes and advocate coexistence, the Illiniwek Indians and Miami tribe inhabited the land in the 1600's, about 150 years before the area was ceded to the U.S. LINK   

COYOTES ARE HARMLESS, YOU FACE A BIGGER THREAT FROM DOGS

Animal Rights activists claim there are much bigger threats to people than coyotes, often citing  domestic dog attacks as a much bigger threat. While at least 4.5–4.7 million Americans are bitten by dogs every year and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20 to 30 of these result in death they would be right.

In California for example, the California Department of Fish & Wildlife estimates there are approximately 700,000 coyotes in California. Looking at census data; 36.5% of the 105,480,101 households own on average of 1.6 dogs. That's 61.6 million dogs.  LINK Their argument fails to consider we spend far more time in much closer proximity to our dogs  that outnumber coyotes 88 to 1, failing  to provide proper perspective or context.  Their objective is to downplay the real threat urban coyotes pose to people and their pets.

The simple truth is two humans have been killed in North America by  coyotes. Kelly Keen in 1981 in Glendale, CA and Taylor Mitchell in 2009 at  Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Canada. There have also been scores of close calls where child escaped likely "serious or fatal bodily injury" if the child had not been rescued in time. LINK

Admittedly, we are seeing human-coyote conflicts in urban settings rise to unprecedented levels, and most are quite recent. To date, coyotes have attacked people in at least 19 states and 4 Canadian provinces (Timm and Baker 2007).  

KILLING COYOTES CREATES MORE COYOTES/ DON'T KILL, MORE WILL TAKE THEIR PLACE

The Humane Society of the U.S. and Project Coyote both use the following infographic to explain how through indiscriminate killing coyote packs are disrupted. This disruption allegedly results in a coyote "mating free for all." Dr. Eric Gese who currently works at the National Wildlife Research Center in Logan, Utah and is currently a professor at the Department of Wildlands Resources  at Utah State University.
LINK Dr. Gese has been studying coyotes and producing studies on coyotes for decades LINK When asked about the infographic (HERE
his response was "oversimplified and unproven." Project Coyote and
HSUS blame lethal control for disrupting coyote populations when coyote populations are in constant flux from natural forces and experience an already high natural mortality rate. 

In "Foraging ecology of coyotes (Canis latrans): the influence of extrinsic  factors and a dominance hierarchy" co-authored by Project Coyote  Science Advisor Robert Crabtree and Dr. Eric Gese. In the study it was observed when packs were disrupted by vehicle strikes or other unknown occurrences, beta coyotes take the place of alpha coyotes. There is no mating free for all. Its also important to remember Project Coyote Science Advisor Robert Crabtree co authored the study. It clearly shows how this group cherry picks data to support their animal rights views.  

WE NEED TO COEXIST

As humans, the idea of coexistence implies we follow the social constructs of mutual respect and understanding regardless of race, gender, religion, socio-economic background, culture etc. We accomplish this through education and social peer pressure determining what is acceptable and unacceptable.  When humans behave in a way society deems unacceptable we have laws to address these transgressions. Starting with education and depending on the nature of the offense, imprisonment up to the penalty of death. 

The same cannot be said for coyotes. Often, when coyotes attack pets or children, the blame is often placed squarely on humans instead of the offending animal. Municipalities and animal control agencies often apply a double standard to offending wildlife compared to domestic dogs. Most agencies would quickly euthanize a domestic dog for attacking and killing another dog. Coyotes are given a pass for the same behavior. Dogs and coyotes are canines and are both ancestors of wolves. Canids attack for the same reasons; hunger, dominance, territoriality and self defense. We need to apply the same rules to coyotes as we do other domestic animals. Groups like PETA and local Humane Societies often put down thousands of cats and dogs yearly for lack of homes (overpopulation), or they're found unadoptable for behavioral problems. 

Coexistence implies we should allow coyotes to expand their range into human habitat, setting a dangerous precedent placing the welfare of coyotes ahead of public safety, tax paying residents, including pets,  livestock and urban wildlife unaccustomed to coexisting with this invasive predator.  

Coyotes are highly adaptable, opportunistic, fairly large predators that exploit environments and assert their dominance in order to survive. That’s all they “know to do.” Coyotes explore and exploit whatever niche is available to them until something constrains them.

In Yellowstone National Park, that constraint is the reintroduction of wolves (Canis lupus). Where wolves are now present, coyote densities have dropped. While some wolves have attacked and killed coyotes, most of this change is behavioral: coyote have learned to avoid wolves, but they remain present in good numbers in areas where wolves are scarce. It took relatively few coyote deaths by wolves to condition remaining coyotes to lay low or move out of wolf areas.

I hypothesize that coyotes in suburbia don’t behave any differently than coyotes in Yellowstone. As successive generations of urban coyotes become more habituated to people, they will exploit that environment and assert their dominance until something (or someone) gives them good reason to be wary of humans. Much of the behavior we see in urban coyotes today is not really new. Habituated coyotes were observed begging tourists for food in Yellowstone as early as 1947 , and in God’s Dog, author Hope Ryden (1975) describes a Yellowstone coyote jumping into her car and refusing to leave.

Trapping and euthanizing coyotes as part of an overall management plan that includes education outreach is reasonable and necessary to keep a healthy coyote population in balance. We should condition coyotes to be wary of humans. 

COMPENSATORY REPRODUCTION

The idea is that if removed, coyotes magically compensate by having larger litters and breeding more frequently. 

Practically every study examining coyote reproduction makes reference to a study conducted by Longhurst and Connelly in 1975. ​Several articles and studies misquote the Longhurst Connelly study claiming lethal control creates more coyotes when Longhurst and Connelly's model predicts coyote populations can withstand high levels of control, and can recover quickly when control is terminated, the proverbial “rebound effect.” However, there is not a “catapult effect”, as some want to believe. In fact, Connolly himself maintains that those who use the paper to oppose coyote management (i.e.,control) use it inappropriately and out of context. Connelly said “killing coyotes at rates below 75% may merely stimulate reproduction and aggravate the problem,” has “little or no relevance to selective removal of a few problem coyotes, and people who claim otherwise are just damaging their own credibility” from "How Misinformation Fosters Human Coyote Conflict" LINK

In The Effects of Control on Coyote Populations: A Simulation Model  LINK  Authors Connolly and Longhurst themselves refer to the model as the "if then simulator."  In the introduction of the study the authors point out "the model is an abstract representation of a complex biosystem. Like any other model it is a simplification of real phenomena and requires certain assumptions." The authors then point out eight "assumptions" that have to be made in order for the model to function. 

One of the most important considerations not accounted for in this study that has been consistently overlooked was quality of habitat.  The model does not consider the availability of food and cover between the areas where coyote control was conducted and not  It is well documented that food is the primary factor controlling population densities.  In a book edited by Project Coyote Science advisor Dr. Mark Bekoff “Coyote Biology, Behavior and Management” Guy E. Connoly points out.“Nearly all animal populations fluctuate irregularly within limits that are extremely restricted compared to what is theoretically possible. Population levels of several species of carnivores have been shown to fluctuate in response to variations in the abundance of their principal prey” “Therefore, it is not surprising that most studies of the factors limiting coyote populations have identified food as the predominant constraint.”

DON'T KILL COYOTES, MORE WILL TAKE THEIR PLACE

Advocates attempt to downplay the effectiveness of trapping ineffective  by claiming it is only a temporary solution  because other coyotes will quickly come in to fill the void.  Well, they're  partly right. Trapping once and considering the problem solved is about as silly as getting one haircut and considering that task done. Just like hair, coyotes management plans require maintenance.  However, they fail to recognize the effectiveness of trapping as part of a well rounded urban coyote management plan that includes education and coyote behavior monitoring.  

 I'd like to quote another famous canid biologist Frederick Knowlton who has been studying coyote behavior since 1960, Knowlton argues that it is necessary to kill coyotes to protect livestock even if the coyotes return. "I've been mowing my grass for 30 years, and it still grows back," he says. "That doesn't mean I'm not doing it right."  

REMOVE ATTRACTANTS AND BRING YOUR PET INDOORS, THAT WILL SOLVE THE PROBLEM!

 Coyotes living in areas without additional irrigation, living off food sources naturally occurring have population densities averaging .4 to 1.3 coyotes per square mile. Even if every person followed the advice of removing attractants typically found suburban environments there would still be water provided through irrigation. Golf courses, parks, green belts and unimproved areas are practically everywhere in suburbia, providing attractants and cover to rodents, rabbits and other small  animals coyotes prey upon.  That is why even with suburbanites removing the recommended attractants, suburbia would still be an extraordinarily rich environment for coyotes. This ample supply of resources is the major reason coyote populations are on average 8 times higher in cities when compared to their natural environment. 

Similarly we are told to bring pets which were traditionally kept outdoors, inside.  Pets are made prisoners in their own homes only allowed to go out on supervised bathroom breaks for fear of being attacked by coyotes. Some feel this may be an exaggeration, many do not especially considering how large municipalities have decided to buy into the misinformation supplied by animal rights advocates to avoid risking negative media attention and harassment. Cities like Long Beach  California is a prime example of a city that refuses to conduct any lethal control of coyotes in spite of numerous reports of coyotes attacking pets in backyards included pets being ripped from leashes. 

Many residents have lived in their communities for decades without any negative interactions with coyotes. Coyote incidents involving people and pets are on the rise.  LONG BEACH COYOTE TRACKER

To date, Long Beach leaders refuse to discuss an  incident where coyotes likely entered an unsecured residence and removed the remains of Terence Michael Griffin Jr.  LINK

Removing attractants is a good policy but does nothing to address coyote population management. Instead it allows coyotes to breed without restraint, placing the burden of coexistence on humans. Trapping and removing coyotes displaying inappropriate behavior is reasonable and appropriate. Not doing so allows coyotes to increase their population densities to dangerous levels. 

Following the lethal attack on a 3-year-old girl in Glendale in August 1981, authorities removed 55 coyotes from within one-half mile (0.8 km) of the attack site over a period of 80 days. LINK 

COYOTES MATE FOR LIFE! THEY'RE MONOGAMOUS

While generally true, advocates often attempt to humanize coyotes by claiming coyotes as being part of a loving monogamous relationship. Coyotes are considered obligate monogmysts, meaning that the success of a litter is dependent on the cooperation of both parents. Canid species reinforce social monogamy with behaviors such as continual proximity of the pair during estrus, displayed mating preferences, absence of unrelated adult conspecifics (member of the same species) in the home range of the breeding pair, and breeding by only 1 pair in the social group . 

Extra-pair copulations (EPCs) have been discovered in every canid mating system that has been investigated genetically, regardless that social monogamy was the observed norm. Indeed, some researchers have predicted that EPCs would be discovered in any canid species investigated genetically.

Interestingly in a study co-authored by Project Coyote Science Advisor Robert Crabtree "Foraging ecology of coyotes (Canis latrans): the
influence of extrinsic factors and a dominance hierarchy." LINK   The alpha female abandoned the Norris territory for a month and was observed travelling throughout the valley during which time she mated with 3 different males before returning to the territory. 

TRANSLATING ANIMAL RIGHTS TERMINOLOGY INTO ENGLISH

 Wildlife Killing Contest


Organized social event involving regulated and legal hunting methods.


With busy schedules and family life most hunters have limited time to spend in the field. Given a choice, many prefer to spend their time at these events for the camaraderie of other hunters and the possibility of winning raffle prizes. 


Trophy hunting


Legal, recreational hunting. Overseen by state wildlife agencies with input from professional biologists.  


War on Wildlife


Any wildlife management conducted using lethal control


Coexist 

                                                                                             

Be subserviant to an invasive predatory mammal


Murder

                                                                                             

Legal, recreational hunting and or trapping


Wildlife is held public trust                                        


Wildlife is only for the enjoyment by members of the public that share animal rights views