The PHand I just rented How to Train Your Dragon on DVD. (No, we do not have a Blu-ray player, much to someone’s chagrin.) It reminded me a lot of my favourite book from childhood by Martin Baynton:
Immediately I identified with the main character. Jane despised household tasks like sewing in preference for outdoor activities like fencing. Jane’s complete rejection of tradition made me feel a little less alone. She taught me that it is okay to be different, even if the people around you don’t understand.
But I digress… What most struck me after watching the movie and thinking about the book – and I realise this is a gross over-simplification – was how the plots relate to Nova Scotia’s current situation with the Eastern Coyote. After a tragic incident last year that resulted in two deaths, the government has since placed a bounty on coyote pelts.
When I first heard about the attack I was stunned. I didn’t even think a coyote was capable of hurting a human. Those cute, little, fox-like creatures we saw all the time in Alberta? How could that be possible? They could barely kill a small cat.
Fortunately, I read up a little on the matter. The Eastern Coyote is technically an invasive species in the province. They migrated here from Ontario and Quebec as recently as the 1970’s. Their ancestry makes them a lot bolder and a lot more competitive than the Western species I am most familiar with. While it is still rare for an Eastern Coyote to attack a human, it is a possibility.
Public reaction has been divided over the bounty issue. Naturally. The coyotes seem to be getting braver. There has been an increase in suburban sightings, which is a little concerning. In fact, I think I even saw one back in the spring. But it could have just been a large dog.
At first, I refrained from forming an opinion. Not being an expert on the Eastern Coyote, and being a newcomer to the province, I waited until I heard from wildlife biologists.
Which is more than our government did.
From what I understand, the experts who have studied this animal for their entire lives, are against it. They claim culling will not solve the current over-population problem. Coyotes will make up for the difference by having larger and more frequent litters. Recent programs enacted in other parts of the country and in the U.S. have shown this. Most biologists seem to agree that a bounty is not the answer.
So what is?
I’m not sure. I’m not a wildlife biologist. And that’s what I think is key, here.
In order to prevent the threat of the Eastern Coyote we have to understand the history of the animal. We have to study its behaviour. We have to come up with solutions that will allow humans and coyotes to co-exist. Like it or not, it seems we are stuck together. The government needs to start working with, and listening to, the people who have done these above things.
That way is harder, yes. And longer. But, in my opinion, to solve a problem, one must understand it first.