August 17, 2019

Coyote Behavior: When All You Know is Farley Mowat’s Book of Mythology

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Yesterday I was reading an article of utter nonsense published in a small Maine town newspaper about coyote behavior. Of course the article was all about the love of the nasty, diseased animal and the call for its protection “because it is an important necessity for a healthy ecosystem.” Unfortunately the writer appears to have gotten 100% of their education from the proven and admitted make believe of Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf.

Mowat laced his book of fiction with make believe nonsense about how wolves and coyotes only eat mice and other small rodents. The author of the Maine piece tells the same fairy tale about Maine’s coyotes: “To clarify, coyotes primarily feed on mice and other rodents…” The myth if further perpetuated by stating: “While coyotes do occasionally eat fawns and sick deer…”

Coyotes are basically garbage collectors that will eat anything…and by that I mean anything. When hungry enough, they will eat mud in order to stop the hunger in their guts. But this author obviously doesn’t get around much. Coyotes in Maine are a mixed hybrid animal, a cross breeding of an invasive coyote, wolf, and domestic dog. Because of this, the wild canine in the Maine woods is not like a typical coyote. Maine’s coyotes feed on deer, yes, adult deer too, in regular fashion. To state that coyotes feed primarily on mice and other small rodents is patently false.

The purpose of the author making this statement is to claim that because coyotes eat mice, we need to protect them because mice are what carry the ticks that cause and spread Lyme disease.

There’s a problem with that scenario. If anyone does any honest and complete research on the behavior of coyotes and the results of their behavior, they would know that the meal of the Maine coyote hybrid includes such animals as foxes and other canines and felines that truly do feed on the mice that perpetuate Lyme. The more coyotes, the fewer foxes and thus, because honestly coyotes don’t primarily feed on mice and small rodents, having more coyotes results in fewer animals that do kill the mice and thus the possibility exists that the prevalence of Lyme grows.

It should also be noted that while some choose to believe that the coyote makes for a healthier ecosystem, the reality is far from healthy. It has been proven that coyotes carry as many as 50 different diseases and viruses. Maine also has detected the presence of “lung worm” in moose. Lung worm, in this case Echinococcus granulosus (E.g.) is the result of the presence of wild canines. E.g. can be contracted by humans and can be deadly. Wild ungulates, such as deer and moose, pick up the disease by grazing around coyote scat where the tiny infectious spores are found. These spores are highly viable and thus the increase in the spread of the disease. In short, the more coyotes roaming the countryside, the higher the threat of disease. E.g. is not a direct killer of deer and moose (livestock also) but restricts their ability to escape large predators because of cysts that can grow on lungs and other internal organs.

The author points an accusatory finger at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW) for lying about its “responsible and science-based stewardship” when it comes to the management and control of coyotes. I find is amazing that simply because a person does not agree with the “responsible and science-based stewardship” of the MDIFW (in other words the department may not be all in with complete animal protection and natural wildlife management), they are labeled irresponsible and that their practices aren’t science-based. In fact, regardless of the fact that MDIFW spends far too much time trying to appease the social demands of lunatics who think coyotes will stop Lyme disease, the department’s efforts in selective coyote control and the allowing of coyote hunting derbies, while perhaps not a favorite tool for this necessary control, it is something that must be done in order to be “responsible and science-based” in the care and management of other wildlife species.

No matter how much anyone wants to read and believe Farley Mowat’s nonsense, it doesn’t change reality. Nature does not regulate itself in the Nirvanic way the uninformed want to believe. The author states that if we would leave the coyote along it would regulate itself. Obviously, the author has never seen the predator pits of death, destruction, and scarcity that predator protection causes.

If we want to enjoy the wildlife and its abundance, real responsible and science-based management and control is necessary.

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