John MacDonell, NS Minister of Wildlife Extermination (Photo: ERIC WYNNE / CH)
Not content with giving the stamp of approval for Nova Scotia sealers to slaughter defenceless grey seals in protected areas of Nova Scotia such as Hay Island and Sable Island, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Natural Resources has set another wildlife species in this province in his sites – the eastern coyote.
Minister of Natural Resources John “If-It-Moves-Kill-It” MacDonell announced a $20 bounty on coyotes in this province in response to growing public hysteria after a spate of coyote-human encounters, one of which proved tragically fatal.
There has been talk of a bounty for some time now but experts had warned documented evidence indicated that bounty programs were unsuccessful in temporarily or permanently reducing coyote abundance (or subsequently reducing livestock depredation, for that matter); in fact, just the opposite was proven – studies showed that coyotes respond to culls simply by having larger litters. So now the government believes by implementing a bounty encouraging professional trappers to trap and kill coyotes for $20 a pop, that will instill a fear of humans into coyotes and discourage them from straying too close in future.
You can't instill wariness in a coyote if he's dead...
MacDonell is quick to point out this is not a cull for population control, stating “this is more of a people-safety thing, so I’m not expecting to eliminate coyotes” and adding 75% of the population would have to be killed for 50 years for adequate population management. Well, the government seems to be off to a good start on that, since its goal is to reduce the coyote population by 50% in the first year. Conversely, MacDonnel added, “I don’t care what it’s [the coyote population] reduced by, to be honest. I’m more concerned about getting rid of the animals that might be a problem.“ I wonder how his department came up with the decision that 50% of the population – 4,000 of the estimated 8,000 – is “a problem”?
For some politicos, 50% is 50% too few. Colchester County Councillor Mike Cooper believes Nova Scotia should completely exterminate its coyote population. “Bounties don’t work,” says the bloodthirsty councillor during this week’s council session. “You might as well get rid of them. They’re hunting in packs now.“ Hunting in packs…who else hunts in packs? Oh yes, humans. Maybe they need to be exterminated as well?
Rednecks with traps will be paid $20 by NS taxpayers for each coyote they kill
Mike O’Brien, a provincial wildlife biologist, said scientific research supports the cull, which should result in the remaining coyotes keeping their distance from people. “Should?” So what, we’re going to slaughter half the population of coyotes in this province because it “should” or “might” work?! But wait, this is the government. Why am I surprised…I would like Mr. O’Brien to point me in the direction of this research, as I haven’t seen it yet and would be interested in reading it. Alfie MacLeod, the Conservative natural resources critic, is supportive of a bounty although he has no clue whether or not it will be effective. Says Mr. MacLeod, “Is it the right solution? We won’t know until this is allowed to have a chance to work.” Another subscriber to the redneck philosophy of “let’s kill us a whole bunch of critters to see if it works, hyick”.
The bounty is facing opposition from some unexpected parties. Tony Rodgers, executive director of the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters, has criticized MacDonell’s move, saying a bounty is “a politically motivated waste of taxpayers’ money.” You’d think that Mr. Rodgers would be happy, since only licensed trappers are eligible to take part in the bounty, and trappers are part of the organization’s membership.
NDP govt wants to slaughter 50% of NS's coyote population just to show them who's boss
Even more importantly, the mother of the victim of a fatal coyote attack is speaking out against the bounty. Emily Mitchell, whose 19 year old daughter Taylor was tragically killed by coyotes while hiking in a park in Cape Breton National Park last October, is aghast that a bounty has been implemented. Ms. Mitchell says her daughter would have opposed the bounty and would be devasted to think they’re using her attack as one of the reasons they’re implementing the bounty. Ms. Mitchell is calling MacDonell’s decision a knee-jerk reaction, adding, “It upsets me and makes me very uncomfortable. You’re going out and killing wild animals who, for the most part, are just going about their business. I just think, and I know my daughter felt exactly the same.”
Liberal natural resources critic Leo Glavine called MacDonell’s decision ”an overreaction prompted by public concern” and has accused the government of removing information critical of culls from its website. He also says the minister is bending to political pressure rather than making a decision based on sound science. I’m pleased to see Mr. Glavine speaking up against the senseless killing of coyotes, since he seemed to have lost his voice when it came to voting against Bill 50 permitting the senseless slaughter of thousands of defenceless baby grey seals on protected Hay Island. Mr. Glavine’s criticism is sincerely appreciated by bounty opponents.
Clearly, the NDP government is caving in to public hysteria. As tragic as Taylor Mitchell’s death was, it was an isolated incident. We need public education, not lethal traps. The public needs to be educated on how to avoid confrontation and to live in harmony with the wildlife in their area. Here are just a few ways we can do that:
- Stop leaving pet food out and secure all rubbish bins, ensuring no rubbish or food is left on the ground;
- Stop leaving pets outside – coyotes typically eat rabbits and rodents and if hungry enough will naturally eat a pet. Why people leave their cats out at night and start shrieking when a coyote or raccoon makes off with them I’ll never know. If you love Fluffy, you’ll keep her inside!!
- Learn what to do (and more importantly what NOT to do) should you come face-to-face with a coyote. Make yourself look as large as possible, yell, wave your arms, throw rocks. Make sure you’re not blocking a coyote’s path. Do NOT turn and run from a coyote as that will trigger a predator/prey response and will lead to an attack.
Coyote pups - more victims of the NDP govt's stupidity
Those are just a few of the things we can do to co-exist as peacefully as possible with coyotes. I don’t profess to have all the answers but I know one thing: killing is not the answer! I’ve walked in the woods, nervous of coming face-to-face with a wild animal. But I would never contemplate slaughtering the wild animals to allow me to walk unafraid through those woods. There seems to be a mentality in this region that animals are either a “sustainable resource to be harvested” or a “pest to be exterminated.” It seems to slip everyone’s mind that these are sentient creatures we’re talking about – mammals capable of feeling pain and fear. When dogs and cats are caught in traps their humans speak out in outrage at the horrible death their pet suffered. It doesn’t seem to cross their mind that the wildlife targeted suffer a death equally horrible in those traps. Why is it unacceptable for a dog but perfectly acceptable for a coyote? Because one is domesticated and one is wild? This is a morally schizophrenic viewpoint which is not acceptable in the 21st century. It’s akin to eating cows and pigs and being horrified by others eating cats and dogs. The cruelty is the same. All suffer the same fear and pain. So why is one okay and not the other?
If you’re against the NS coyote bounty, please feel free to join a new Facebook group – Stop the Nova Scotia Coyote Bounty.