Ralph Surette, columnist for Nova Scotia’s Chronicle Herald, wrote a recent column about the coyote problem in the province and solutions that are being sought by the Canadian government.
It’s a clear fact that a large coyote population in the area has resulted in some serious human-animal conflicts, ranging from the disappearance of household pets to the tragic death of singer-songwriter Taylor Mitchell, who was attacked by coyotes while jogging.
Another clear fact is that low fur prices have resulted in fewer trappers and hunters harvesting coyotes and helping to eliminate these overpopulation problems.
As Surette said:
My local trapper, Calvin Nickerson of nearby Glenwood, normally takes up to 20 in a year but didn’t this winter because of the price. I asked him what difference removing 20 animals from the area would have made to the general mayhem. “A lot,” he said emphatically. Mike O’Brien, manager of the fur bearers’ division for the Department of Natural Resources, generally agrees.
The local government has recently been discussing a price support. Not a bounty, specifically, but a support that would ensure that the price of coyote pelts stay within an acceptable level year-to-year, to ensure adequate trapping effort and population control.
Part of the problem with the coyotes being suddenly brazen is that the price of their fur collapsed last year with the recession and trappers dropped off trapping them (there’s a worldwide market for the furs, used mostly as trim for cuffs, collars and parkas, but also for whole coats). The trappers’ federation has asked for price support to make up the difference to a minimum of $30 per pelt to a maximum of $50, and the province is considering it, or some form of it.
The experts believe that the price support could help achieve the province’s goal of minimizing human-animal conflicts.
He (Mike O’brien) has been scouring best practices elsewhere in North America as part of the new policy, to be announced shortly by Natural Resources Minister John MacDonell. The evidence is that bounties don’t reduce the population, he says, but trapping increases the coyotes’ “level of wariness” and keeps them farther away from humans: the most that can be hoped for.
It’s clear that the coyote problem locally, and in other places across Canada and the U.S., could be properly dealt with by taking the proactive approach that Nova Scotia is considering.
In the end, this is not the problem it’s made out to be, either biologically or politically. A minor amount of incentive for trapping, more public education and a targeting of problem animals will take care of most of it. The rest has to do with us living alongside nature, something we’re not very good at.