Whatever You Call Them (Kie-as in pie-oats, Kieoatees, Coy-oats or ‘Yotes) Coyotes Aren’t Killers
I take it as an amusing coincidence (rather than, say, a bizarre karmic confluence) that real coyotes only started showing up inside our city limits after the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets moved to Arizona and renamed themselves the Phoenix Coyotes. Now there are coyotes in both cities. But ours seem to be doing much better. In fact, the hockey team may even be forced to come back.
In the past, if you put your mind to it, you could find coyotes easily enough outside the city. Almost every winter I’ve been here I’ve seen a coyote in some rural farmer’s field chasing jackrabbits or voles or mice. This past year I’ve seen two inside the city, one by a retention pond in a new industrial park. The area is a dog-walking zone, and, at first, I mistook the coyote for an off-leash pet until it grudgingly skulked off into the bush. It was scoping out a large flock of sleeping ducks and was reluctant to pass up an easy meal.
I’m not the only one to see coyotes in the city. Human-coyote encounters have increased recently – though they rarely amount to anything more than my sighting. Coyotes are wary canines. They’d normally rather flee than fight.
In late October, however, a young woman was hiking alone on the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia when a pair of coyotes attacked and killed her. Since then alarm bells have been a-clanging. Coyotes have become the latest target in the media’s relentless fear mongering.
In Calgary coyotes (instead of bullies) have supposedly been stealing school-kids’ lunches. A hotline has been set up. Lord help the coyote that develops a taste for bologna!
In Saskatchewan you can now collect a $20 bounty if you bring in four severed, matching coyote paws.
In British Columbia and Manitoba coyote trappers (varmint exterminators) have been hired because somebody’s Muffie, the mongrel cat, or Squeaky, the Merle Pomeranian, has disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
As usual the human response to any perceived threat is to kill the suspect! (Unless it’s a health threat, in which case someone’s got a pill for the threat – whose side effects might kill you!)
In reality, according to University of Calgary researchers, there have been fewer than thirty human-coyote encounters over the past dozen years or so in all of Canada. “Scratches and puncture wounds were the dominant injury.”
What does that tell us? Mainly it indicates that the family dog or loose dogs in packs are far more dangerous to humans than their cousins, the coyotes. More people (especially children) are killed by dogs in ONE YEAR in Manitoba, for instance, than have EVER been killed by coyotes.
Without a doubt, coyotes are increasing in numbers (likely because their pelts are no longer valuable). They are adaptable creatures, and so they are finding more food opportunities (rodents, garbage, deer carcasses) inside the city. But coyotes are not the problem, people. People are.