Persecution of America’s Song Dog

Coyotes (Canis latrans) are one of the most common predators in America and can be found from coast to coast. Unfortunately, these intelligent, social and often misunderstood canines are unjustly persecuted at the hands of humans. According to one article published in the New York Times, “No other wild animal in American history has suffered the kind of deliberate, and casual, persecution we have rained down on coyotes.”

Coyotes have long been targeted by agencies like Wildlife Services and pursued by hunters in the name sport. However, despite overwhelming pressure from humans, coyotes have managed to not only survive, but to thrive.

It turns out that excessive persecution of America’s song dog resulted in its range expansion rather than elimination. Pack disruption, coupled with a changing landscape, allowed coyotes to start moving south and east into new, unoccupied habitats. Today, coyotes can be found throughout much of North America.

It is important to note that in the absence of such heavy persecution, coyote populations would eventually stabilize, which begs the question, when will we stop targeting them?

Denise Peterson

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