Losing a pet is a traumatic experience for any family. Whether a cat or a dog becomes sick from the effects of old age, dies in an accident, or is taken by a force of nature, it’s difficult.
People want to protect their pets just as they want to protect their children from harm. So when coyotes appear in residential areas and pets become prey, as they have in Dallas recently, a natural reaction is to demand that “something be done.”
Coyotes are one of the most resilient species on the planet. They’ve been hunted, trapped, persecuted and reviled for centuries and yet they continue to thrive through their intelligence, speed and ability to adapt to a changing environment. They don’t call them “wily” for nothing.
When conditions are good, the coyote population goes up; when food is scarce, it goes down. This is a “good” year as far as coyotes are concerned.
More often than not, we’re the ones who have invaded their territory, not the other way around. We unwittingly provide them with a food source.
When humans move into their habitat, coyotes don’t leave. Instead, they learn to live in changed surroundings, to take advantage of new opportunities. When they see a cat or a dog, they don’t see someone’s beloved pet; they see dinner.
Watching coyotes hunt is a fascinating spectacle. When hunting alone, they depend on their quickness and agility. They can go from standing stark still to snapping up their prey in an instant. When in packs, they lure their prey into a trap and then use their numbers to ensure there’s no escape. Cats and dogs are no match for them.
Emotions aside, there are two ways of dealing with coyotes: live with them, or kill them. That doesn’t mean the average homeowner should start blazing away with a high-powered rifle, but a qualified marksman undertaking a legal hunt can win out over the coyote every time.
There’s not much sport in hunting coyotes. The hunter simply uses a fake call that sounds like a distressed prey to bring the coyote in for a look, and with relative ease dispatches him.
That will solve the problem, at least until another coyote moves into the territory to fill the vacancy.
The option of co-existing should not be dismissed. Keeping pets indoors unless someone is with them, especially after dark (coyotes especially like to hunt during the night and just before sunrise), is the best guarantee. A coyote that can’t find a domestic animal to hunt will be forced to go after mice, marmots and other rodents — supplying a service instead of being an enemy.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.