Researcher Said Hunting and Trapping Coyotes Increases their Population

by E.M. Fay

When coyote researcher and Barnstable (Mass.) High School Science teacher Dr. Jonathan Way wrote to the Town Manager in 2006, he was seeking an injunction against coyote hunting in the town, and an injunction against any large mammal hunting on Sandy Neck Beach, which is a study area for many researchers. The beach has rare species and biologists often studied them there. Way and his associates had radio-collared deer, fox, and coyotes to monitor their movements, but sadly, hunters had shot many of them. He pointed out that by banning hunting there, a beautiful natural eco-system would be preserved for the residents and visiting scientists. There were no other natural areas nearby that ban hunting, so if Barnstable officials agreed with his proposal the town would benefit from being unique in protecting its local wildlife. With 50,000 residents and less than 100 persons signed up for hunting, the vast majority of townsfolk would be served by having a local sanctuary. Tourism revenue would likely increase as birders, photographers, and other peaceful wildlife watchers were attracted to the town.

Regarding coyotes, Way noted that hunting them actually increases their numbers, thus, the argument that killing coyotes helps reduce a danger to local pets is proven false. Unfortunately, town officials ignored his request and hunting continued. As Way said, in spite of the fact that hunters make up only 1% of the population of the state, non-hunters have no voice in wildlife management in Massachusetts. Here, as elsewhere across the country, state fish and game agencies are bound to the firearms industry and work with this tiny minority, ignoring the reality that much more money comes into state coffers from wildlife watchers.

Compounding the illogic of the situation, in 2009 the Mass. Dept. of Fisheries and Wildlife made it nearly impossible for Dr. Way to continue his research by claiming that his radio-collaring of coyotes violated trapping laws, and they delayed renewal of his permit. At the same time, state officials extended the hunting season on coyotes by a further five weeks; coyotes can now be legally killed from October through March.

Way published a book about his coyote research, Suburban Howls. “The book is a celebration of my study subjects. I think it will help people appreciate that they are part of the landscape. They are one part of the ecosystem.” He agrees that there should be a buffer of sorts between humans and coyotes, but it is up to humans to make it a harmless one. Killing these intelligent, resilient, and amazingly adaptable wild canines is unnecessary and cruel. They play a vital role in maintaining species diversity and ecological balance.

Besides, Way adds, “These animals have just as much right to be around here as we do.”
Please visit Jon’s excellent website: His books are Suburban Howls, My Yellowstone Experience, and Coywolf. And support creating a wildlife watching refuge in Barnstable by clicking on the link that says “Support ECR.”

“If we are indeed the highest form of intelligent life, shouldn’t we be the most adaptable? And therein, shouldn’t we reap a blessing out of sharing our space with the wild animals that make our world a better and more sustainable place?”


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Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting / C.A.S.H.
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