Your article offends me.

I spoke at the last council meeting objecting to the vote by the council to trap coyotes in Maumelle. I was not able to attend the council meeting at which this issue was voted on because of the maddening issue of lengthy commutes from Little Rock to Maumelle at rush hour. 3 whole minutes was barely enough time to state my name, address and credentials. I can expand greatly on my explanation as to why this plan is futile, inhumane, a waste of money and will create an imbalance in the ecology of Maumelle (if you were interested, which I assume you are not by the sarcastic way in which you write your article). I majored in fisheries and wildlife management in college; I am a past officer of the Arkansas Wildlife Federation which is the state affiliate of the National Wildlife Federation, both of which are dedicated to the wise use of our natural resources; I am a wildlife rehabilitator permitted by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; I come from a long line of farmers and hunters that gives me a hands-on knowledge of coyote predation and behavior. I have also studied extensively the research on this topic. I suspect that I am a bit more knowledgeable on the subject than you, so I feel justified in being critical of your sarcasm toward those of us who think trapping is a bad idea. Urban coyote populations are overwhelmingly large and are constantly increasing. Coyotes are territorial predators. Territories are held by solitary animals, mated pairs or packs that primarily consist of parents and juvenile or adult offspring that have remained with their parents to help raise subsequent litters of pups and to hunt more effectively in order to feed the pups. If the owners of a territory are removed then their territory will be claimed by one or more other animals in search of their own territory. The size of a territory depends primarily on the availability of the food supply. Maumelle seems to be a fairly well-balanced ecosystem in that there is a good ratio between predators and prey, which indicates that the system is also healthy. Coyotes are apex predators whose place in the hierarchy of predators has risen to the top as the majority of apex predator populations (bears, cougars, wolves) has been greatly reduced or entirely eliminated because of habitat destruction, over-hunting, human encroachment into territories, and the less adaptable capabilities of the competing predators. Because of the supreme ability of coyotes to adapt, they have managed to learn behavior that enables them to live in close proximity to humans who have moved into their territories, bringing with them a variety of new food items in the form of vulnerable, unsupervised, unconfined and often free-roaming pets. Coyotes are at all times shy and cautious around people, preferring to avoid contact with us as much as possible. They will lose a bit of their caution since they are tempted to forage in our “backyards” because we tend to leave scraps, pet food and water sources around our homes. Their primary food resources are vermin, rabbits, squirrels, amphibians, reptiles, insects, fruit and carrion. An over abundance of rats and mice in Maumelle can be kept under control by a population of coyotes, which will be a benefit to the residents instead of a negative aspect of their presence. They will also raid bird feeders, fruit trees, gardens, etc. if accessible. Coyotes that shared my family’s farmland were fond of our watermelon and cantaloupe crops. They are what is known as opportunistic feeders as most wildlife is. That means that they will make a meal of most anything available that doesn’t eat them first. Humans are guilty of taking over land that has been occupied by coyotes long before our population exploded to it’s current unsupportable levels. They have not moved in on us—we have moved in on them! And at the same time, we humans are surprised that they have adapted to our presence and made the most of the changes that we have made in their territory by munching on the varieties of food that we have made available to them. Humans don’t have to resort to trying to eliminate their population, or move them to some nebulous “wild” place where they may live in peace and safety (where, pray, might that fantasy land exist?) when all we have to do is to be responsible pet owners and keep the domesticated animals confined, supervised, leashed, protected and don’t offer them up to wildlife as snacks ready for the taking! If you see coyotes near your property, keep a tin can filled with noise producing items to shake and make noises that are unpleasant, irritating and frightening to most any living creature. That will encourage them to run away! Spray them with water hoses. Yell at them—wave your arms, but don’t throw things at them that might provoke them. This has proven to be most effective. These solutions are simple, free and our responsibility as pet owners anyway. But NO, we don’t want to be forced to assume any responsibility for our own animals and our own actions—we want to be able to let them roam freely, 24/7 as they choose, and feel confident that nothing might happen to them!!! Most people are so ignorant regarding the behavioral patterns of all wildlife including coyotes that they don’t realize that if cornered and frightened, all wildlife will attempt to protect itself if flight isn’t an option, and all wildlife will also strive to protect it’s young, so avoid creating a problem where one doesn’t already exist. Exercise common sense (not a common trait among humans, I find) and caution and most unpleasant situations can be prevented. Remember, too, that many, if not most of the residents of Maumelle have moved here to escape the sterility of the city to experience cohabitation with wildlife and wildness. Those of us who do not want to see the coyotes persecuted enjoy their presence and don’t wish to see them banished or destroyed. People MUST learn to coexist with wildlife and wilderness. We are merely one cog in an environment that has evolved over billions of years. It is not our right to destroy it.

Robin Apple