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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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Thursday, February 4, 2016

One might call Laguna, California writer and resident, Dave Hansen, a "compassionate conservative" as it relates to co-existence with Coyotes.............A good middle ground position of tolerance and selective removal is what he favors............Your thoughts?

We must be wily around coyotes
David Hansen
We used to call them varmints, perhaps as a way to minimize the coyote's limited mystique.
A coyote has always been like the wolf's ugly half-brother — scrawny, jumpy and unpredictable. They are our version of the hyena, and few people really like them, if they're honest.
Coyote pup with his rabbit meal

Varmints are just a step above rodents and treated as such, which is to say, you kill them if they come too close.
Having said that, humans sit precariously at the top of the food chain, and with this supremacy comes responsibility. Of course, we haven't really done a very good job of it to date.
Our shoot-first, ask-questions-later approach hasn't worked well with the West African Black Rhinoceros, Passenger Pigeon, Pyrenean Ibex (an Iberian wild goat), Quagga (a type of zebra), Caribbean Monk Seal, Sea Mink, Tasmanian Tiger, Javan Tiger, Great Auk and Bubal Hartebeest.
All of these species became extinct because of humans, either by outright hunting or direct encroachment of habitat that could not be salvaged.
Add to this a much longer list of threatened or endangered species that are likely to become extinct because of similar problems. In fact, we lose dozens of species every day, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
But what about the coyote? Is it threatened? No, not by a long shot. There's probably no way it can be. It's only real predator, besides humans, is the mountain lion. And when was the last time you saw a mountain lion?
No, the coyote is here to stay, and its only purpose in life is to eat your small dog, cat and maybe, just maybe, try and grab a baby.
Sure, most of the time coyotes will stay within their sandbox and eat rabbits, squirrels, snakes, birds, lizards and berries. But why try to catch a roadrunner when they can grab Fluffy on a leash?
He's called Wile E. Coyote for a reason.
So the debate now is whether to trap and kill the varmints or point the finger back at us. Opponents of killing say that coyotes have just as much right to be here as we do. We should be smarter about prevention.
Proponents of killing say that prevention is not effective and the risk of having a pet or child hurt or killed warrants taking stronger action.
Wildlife experts agree with both sides. Prevention is good and necessary, but if there are cases of aggressive behavior, those specific coyotes need to be taken out.
"Management experience has shown that removal of only a few problem coyotes from a population will reinstill fear of humans in the remaining population, often solving coyote problems in that locality for months or even years," according to the University of California's Research and Extension Center.
It's understandable that opponents to killing would yell loudly at this recommendation. As we speak, social media is aflame with hate toward the city of Laguna Beach for its decision to trap and euthanize coyotes.
There is an emotional attachment that we arbitrarily assign to some species. In the case of coyotes, perhaps it has to do with our Western mythology and call of the wild. These romantic and sometimes poetic associations do little to solve the problem of a snarling, 40-pound alpha-male coyote about ready to snap the neck of an infant.
Do you honestly think that if the coyote did not look like a furry, possibly lovable dog and instead looked like a Tasmanian Devil, we would be having this conversation?
We assign value based on our own bias and appearances. It's the same reason we save sea lions but not uglier species that are much more threatened.
Make no mistake, we should not slaughter coyotes. But we should evaluate it rationally and with long, hard science, weighing the pros and cons.
Coyotes are not going anywhere. They are native to the West and have already adapted to every environment. They are now found, literally, almost everywhere in North America.
We just have to be smarter. We are, after all, on the top of the food chain.
Let's prove that we deserve the distinction.
DAVID HANSEN is a writer and Laguna Beach resident. He can be reached

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