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Steven Childs: Project Coyote is an animal advocacy group that doesn’t use science

April 28, 2019

I find it interesting the animal advocacy groups are taking a play from modern politics: divide and conquer by claiming “ethical” hunters are opposed to managing coyotes using contests. Can the author point to a survey taken by an uninterested third party? I guess we’ll just take his word for it.

Without proof he claimed the “greater Arizona populace have voiced their concern” which would suggest more than half are opposed to coyote hunting contests. I’ll guess we’ll just have to take his word for it ... again.

What is that word worth when the author tries to claim Project Coyote is merely an advocacy group? I’ve personally sat in meetings where Project Coyote representatives suggested removing section 472 from California Fish and Wildlife code that would have made any hunting of coyotes illegal.

Project Coyote is an animal rights group. But where’s my proof? On June 15, 2002, Project Coyote founder and Executive Director Camilla Fox penned an article on the Animal Protection Institute website titled “The Case Against Sport Hunting,” where she wrote: “It is our hope that when hunters come to truly empathize with the animals they wound or kill and see them as sentient beings — as many hunters eventually do — they will stop hunting. The evolution toward a more compassionate relationship with animals is evident and should be commended. Hunters would do well for themselves — and the animals they purport to conserve and revere – by also making this great leap forward and calling off the hunt.”

Coyote hunting contests and coyote hunting in general are both done for the same reason: to manage a species with few natural predators, a high reproductive rate and an omnivorous diet. So you’re going to say with a straight face you are only after coyote hunting contests when Project Coyote claims any act of coyote hunting as unethical?

Ironically, the author himself finished his op-ed with “if you want to slaughter our wildlife, we are coming.” Tell me again how you or Project Coyote are not opposed to hunting?

I have to admit I got a bit of a chuckle when the author mentioned Dan Flores and Coyote America. This book has been received well by animal lovers, but the author himself is hardly qualified to speak on coyotes. Flores is a history professor with an interest in the west. Sure, he’s a great writer and the topic makes for an interesting read. However, I have to question the credibility of Flores when he claimed coyote vocalizations are what controls coyote litter sizes: “The coyote’s yipping howl, known around the world as the iconic music of wild North America, has several functions, one very important one of which is to assess the size of the surrounding coyote population. In the face of persecution that thins their numbers, they respond with whopping litters with high pup survivability.” If this were true, the government and the livestock industry could save themselves millions in what it takes to counter coyote depredation with speakers and coyote urine. The author is clearly trying to convince the public that Project Coyote is not an animal rights group and how the science and the support are on their side when scientific studies, biologists with decades of experience, and articles written by Project Coyote founder Camilla Fox all say otherwise.

Steven Childs is a resident of Duarte, California.