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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, December 11, 2015

"Rick, Just saw an article on the Grand View Outdoor magazine website that attempts to justify the barbaric activity of COYOTE KILLING CONTESTS"............"Let me rant about this barbaric activity and about these so called hunters(killers that eagerly participate in them"............"It is readily apparent that they really don't understand the first thing about nature and really don't care".................."These very "misguided nimrods should know that predators ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT in ecosystem conservation".............. "As conservationists, hunters should be protecting them, not killing them off, especially for some sick blood sport contest just for the “thrill of competition and the camaraderie and friendship"----by ecologist John Laundre

“Why coyote hunting contests are so misunderstood”

So starts another lame attempt by Grand View Outdoors, a magazine dedicated to killing, not hunting (there is a difference unfortunately they do not grasp), to justify making it a contest out of killing coyotes and other predators just to kill them.  The article on hunting contests for coyotes is highlighted by a photo of two proud, brave, smiling men with high powered rifles standing over the corpses of 12 coyotes they killed, but for sure will not eat, during one of these “contests”.   Aside from starting out with self-serving gibberish about the “emotions” and “thrills” experienced in, this case, a calling contest (where killers use prey calls to lure predators into range and then blow them away with high-powered rifles), the article plunges in on trying to justify this barbaric activity based on the time worn themes we repeatedly hear from their ilk. 

“Why contests?” starts this pathetic justification and leads to the first almost universal platitude that negative attitudes about killing just for killing sake comes from those poor souls that just don’t understand nature.  This stems from hunters believing that only hunters have been given the secrets of nature and thus should be entrusted with its conservation and “management”. This is quickly followed ample demonstrations that these killers that really don’t understand the first thing about nature and really don’t care to.

Their first primary display of their total lack of “how nature works” is their insistence that they are doing society a grand service by killing these vermin who, if not controlled, damage livestock and wild game populations (these are animals these people also kill, supposedly for food). They invoke the Montanan “humble farmers whose livelihood depends on the health of their herds of cattle and sheep.”  First, they show their ignorance because by definition, these poor humble folk are ranchers, not farmers.  Second, most of these ranchers are not poor humble folk but border on corporate size operations that run thousands of livestock, most on public (our) lands for a pittance.  Next they bring up the cherry picked item that coyotes do more damage to cattle and sheep nationwide than any other predator.  Though this is true, they really show their ignorance of what it is like out there in that they fail to point out and obviously don’t understand, is that the damage coyotes and other predators do to cattle and sheep is negligible to the total number of livestock out “on the range”. 

 This is especially in comparison to other losses to these humble folk.  For cattle, ALL predator loss is only 5% of total losses experienced by ranchers, the other 95% is from causes ranging from accidents to modern rustling, most center around just poor animal husbandry.  Relative to total animals out “on the range”, again ALL losses by predators represent only 0.3% (coyotes represent 0.02%)!  In contrast, cattle ranchers lose over 6% of their livestock to non-predator causes. So coyotes are not even remotely a threat to the cattle industry in general nor to most of those humble ranchers.

For sheep the story is similar. Though higher than for cattle, loss of sheep to predators only represented 4.3% of the total number of sheep out there on the range.  This is similar to the percent of sheep lost from non-predator causes (3.8%).  Specifically for coyotes, losses represented only 3% of the total, less than what sheep herders are losing to other causes. 
So much for the argument that coyote killers have to kill off a bunch of coyotes to save western ranchers from this evil beast. I might add that the numbers and thus justification for killing coyotes are even less in the East, where they also have killing contests.  It is obvious that if these killers wanted to really do something to help the humble ranchers in Montana, they would help them improve their husbandry techniques!.  But I guess that is not as satisfying and lacks the camaraderie of blowing away a bunch of coyotes that have never and would likely never kill a cow or even a sheep.

The other glaring example of how little hunters in general understand nature is in their second argument for these killing contests:  We have to kill them to protect “our (my emphasis) deer and antelope herds”.  And they have the impudence to indicate that they have to do this because “As hunters, we should be concerned with conservation.”  Conservation of what?  THEIR deer and antelope so they can come later and blow them away too?  If they were such conservationists, they should know that study after study after study after study… show that predators in general and coyotes specifically, have limited impacts on ungulate populations.  There is no reason to “knock down the coyote crop”. 

 They should also know what the rest of us now know, that predators ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENT in ecosystem conservation.  As “conservationists”, hunters should be protecting them, not killing them off, especially for some sick blood sport contest just for the “thrill of competition and the camaraderie and friendships….”.  But they don’t know these things and so demonstrate that they are the ones “who don’t understand…”

The bottom line is that these killers understand nature way less than those poorly misguided folks (the other 95% of us) they hold in such contempt.   At least these other poor misguided folks actually acknowledge that predators such as coyotes wolves and cougars have a place in the wild and are not just something to be killed to satisfy some primitive barbaric urge some people have to just kill, kill, kill, and have the nerve to call it a “contest”.

John Laundre

 John is a co-author of the LANDSCAPE OF FEAR PARADIGM---- Coining this term when he and colleague Bill Ripple observed the impact of fear on animals' behavior after the re-introduction of grey wolves in Yellowstone National Park while he was studying elk. They determined that the greatest impact predators can have over their prey is not by killing but rather by instilling fear in them. 

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