Letter: Coyotes deserve respect
This is in response to the announcement of a locally sponsored statewide coyote hunt scheduled for the month of February with the sole purpose of awarding a prize to the person who brings in the highest body count. Forgive me if I can't wrap my head around the mindset of those who feel the need to organize such an event. In contrast, I have heard the stories of hunters who describe their time in the woods as one of awe and respect for the experience. And if they are successful in the hunt, there comes with it a feeling of gratitude towards that animal in giving its life for the purpose of feeding a family.
Why the coyote continues to be the target for misplaced rage is a mystery to me. In truth, the coyote stepped into a niche in our ecosystem long ago after the systematic elimination by man of larger predators. Personally, I find its ability to survive admirable considering that every form of warfare (poison, guns, traps, etc.) has been used against it.
In Native American lore coyotes are seen as teacher, trickster and keeper of magic. At home one evening I was awestruck as at the very moment the full moon rose, a family of coyotes launched into a yipping and howling exchange in the back woods. A chilling sound for a meadow mouse I'm sure, but to me it was both beautiful and eerie.
The need to find a scapecoat for our deep-seated human fears is an old story. I suspect the continued demonizing of the coyote gives people the excuse to take out their anger and frustration on an animal. If we started to actually respect the natural world and its amazing system of checks and balances, we might begin to recognize that the coyote is an important part of that delicate balance.
Coyotes mate for life and have a very close-knit family unit. I have witnessed their loyalty as I observed one coyote stop and wait for its mate to cross safely between cars. I am fascinated to follow the stories they tell through the scat and tracks they leave across my snowy fields. There is a magic in the ghostly quality they have of disappearing into thin air there at the edge of forest one moment, gone the next.
As much as some would like to make the coyote permanently disappear, I believe they are here to stay. They have more than proven their grit and ability to overcome adversity, even living in suburbia. I hope that those who feel the need to keep persecuting them will take a moment to look inward. Do we really want to define manhood by body counts and senseless killings? It's time to model a more compassionate way to be in this world for the younger generation. Nature is the perfect classroom to teach our children respect for all living things. Our very existence may depend on it. Perhaps we should look to coyote for inspiration he has evolved and adapted beautifully to the demands of changing times. Sadly, humankind has much catching up to do.
I hope that the Fish & Wildlife Department will publicly condemn this hunt and seriously reexamine the policy of open season on coyotes. It's time to step up.
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