March 17, 2018

A Call for a Possible Bounty on Coyotes Because of Disease Spread

Jon Lund is the owner and publisher of the Maine Sportsman magazine. In the March 2018 edition, he asks, “Are Coyotes to Blame for Increase in Ticks?” His simple explanation is that the presence of an increased population of coyotes in Maine is causing a reduction in the fox population – the trickle-down effect of an increase in ticks, particularly the tick that carries Lyme disease. The reality is that coyotes compete with and kill, directly and indirectly, the red fox that is sufficiently more adept at killing the small rodents that carry and perpetuate the Deer (Lyme) tick. In an effort to mitigate what appears to be a festering and growing incidence of Lyme disease in Maine, Lund is wondering if it is time, due to the necessity of a public health risk, to make a more serious effort at reducing the coyote population.

Maine got along just fine before the coyote took over the countryside and contrary to the many statements made otherwise, we don’t need them.

However, there is something else I’d like to touch base with readers about that Mr. Lund brings up in his article. This has to do with the use of chemicals and/or “natural” elements to ward off ticks and insect bites.

I’m sure that the pharmaceutical industry, and anyone else who stands to make a profit from their drugs to treat Lyme and other diseases, has thoroughly hyped the presence of ticks and instilled ample fear into the masses. After all, when the people live in fear they will do most anything.

Lund speaks specifically about permethrin. Permethrin is a common ingredient found in compounds marketed as insect repellents or killers. Basically, it attacks the central nervous system of insects.

Permethrin is a synthetic, or man-made, product derived from pyrethrin.

Most fact sheets available to the consumer paint the picture of permethrin/pyrethrin as mostly harmless even though long-term effects have not been studied. Some believe that using products that contain permethrin presents a higher risk of health issues than the odds of getting bit by a tick that will infect you with Lyme or other diseases. This is something you will have to decide for yourself. But to make that decision honestly, you should make the effort to understand the presented “remedies” and “threats.” It’s your health. Know what you are doing.

Lund takes the time to explain how ticks are spread around (I don’t find any factual claims that global warming is the culprit) and refers to a study where “…a growing body of evidence suggests that Lyme disease risk may now be more dynamically linked to fluctuations in the abundance of small-mammal hosts that are thought to infect the majority of ticks.”

The same study tells us that the incidence and presence of Lyme disease are not related to the abundance of deer but to the absence of key small predators. “We then show that increases in Lyme disease in the northeastern and midwestern United States over the past three decades are frequently uncorrelated with deer abundance and instead coincide with a range-wide decline of a key small-mammal predator, the red fox, likely due to expansion of coyote populations. Further, across four states we find poor spatial correlation between deer abundance and Lyme disease incidence, but coyote abundance and fox rarity effectively predict the spatial distribution of Lyme disease in New York. These results suggest that changes in predator communities may have cascading impacts that facilitate the emergence of zoonotic diseases, the vast majority of which rely on hosts that occupy low trophic levels.”

This claim is in direct contradiction to the theory that predators kill only the sick of the prey species and justifies the “need” for predators to keep our ecosystems healthy. Not only is there no evidence that the presence of large predators reduces the presence of disease in ecosystems, this study seems to prove the exact opposite.

We forget or never learned history. Large predators like wolves and coyotes were not tolerated on the landscape by early settlers. And there were reasons for that, some of which include not only the destruction of property caused by these critters but it was known that they carried and spread diseases, many of which are harmful and even deadly to humans.

And yet, today, there is an all-out effort to protect these same predators. It appears that for some anyway, the demand for an abundance of coyotes at the expense of public health is just fine and dandy. I don’t see it that way at all and I’m not alone.

As the trend continues in the direction that it is headed, it should be fairly easy to predict there will be increased fall-out about protecting any animal that spreads dangerous diseases among the people. Few tolerate the presence of rats knowing and remembering the unbelievable death and destruction caused by the bubonic plague. Is there a difference in protecting the health and safety of the public because one culprit is a nasty rat and the other is a nasty wild dog?

Mr. Lund is correct in asking the question about the role of coyotes in Maine, or anywhere else, where, according to provided data, the coyote is directly affecting the growth, perpetuation and spread of Lyme disease.

If Maine cannot effectively control the population of coyotes for public health and safety with the current management strategies, then it may be time to look at something more effective.

It is dishonest by the many who blame hunting and trapping for the decimation and/or extirpation of wolves and coyotes but go out of their way to deny that hunting and trapping of the same animals today have any effect on reducing their population numbers.

Many decades ago when it was decided by governments that wolves and coyotes were destroying property and spreading diseases, one of the elements employed to rid the landscape of the nasty canines and the diseases they spread was a bounty system. Any bounty must be attractive enough to draw enough to the plan. What is the limit in the cost of healthcare?

Such a suggestion will be vehemently opposed by many, especially those who hate hunting and trapping. They are wrong that think people like Jon Lund and myself might promote a bounty system for coyotes only for improving deer hunting. Little do these people know and understand the real conservation of wildlife.

In the normal world which is being left in the dust, there would be no question as to what is the right thing to do. Normalcy tells us public health and safety take precedence over animals and the spread of disease. One has to wonder what the extent of the bubonic plague would have been like if people had known and took real action to get rid of the rats that spread the disease.

But, we live in a Post-Normal world now where many things are upside-down. Are we to wait until more and more people get sick and die before we begin to act? Are we serious about finding a cure to a problem or is there just too much money to be made along with the genocide many promote?

It appears so.