Letter to the Editor

Coyotes are misunderstood

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

To the Editor:

The Indiana Natural Resources Commission has responded to citizen petitions to prohibit the taking, harassment/killing of coyotes/ foxes for dog "training/penning" purposes, and the use of these animals as "live bait" in the wild, by directing a comprehensive review by Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

"Penning" involves trapping, trading/selling of live coyotes/foxes to "training facilities" where they are released into enclosed areas where hunting dogs, obeying their "sporting" spectator masters, pursue them to kill. Videos show shock collars to escalate dogs' aggression and attack. Fearful, "entertaining", and profitable, scrimmages appall concerned citizens.

Many rural Hoosiers consider coyotes a nuisance. Cursed and feared for natural adaptability and wily survival skills, they are moving closer, not to frighten us, or in lust for our livestock and feral cats, but because man has desecrated their territory. Barren, chemically depleted, industrially farmed fields leave no land to roam, let alone nurture prey. For yield per acre, hedgerows, as well as reverence for the earth and her creatures, have been forgotten. Song Dog has no where to go.

Wolves, coyotes, and dogs share a common heritage of conflict solving communication. Cooperation is essential for pack survival. Uninterrupted by man, wild canines live peacefully, in tune with natural law.

Forced "training" to kill is an unconscionable abuse of canine loyalty and inherent social wisdom. "Hunting", man's way, dogs forget the most basic submissive communications essential in canine hierarchy, such as exposing the jugular for instant death. Their bewildered cousins are often torn apart, dying an anguished, unnatural death.

HB 1258 recently passed the House. If Hoosier's Senate approves, attending a dog fight becomes a felony. What is the difference, in truth, between these two "sports?"

The IDNR acknowledges associated ecological/ethical/health issues. Fair chase and sound wildlife management are violated. Scientists, veterinarians, attorneys, and advocacy organizations strongly support a ban, naming penning/live bait practices as "ethically indefensible" and "ecologically reckless." IDNR will report their findings and recommendations on March 16. Attendance is urged. For information, contact Project Coyote.

Letters are appreciated and essential. NRC and the governor may be contacted.

And, please, if living with coyotes is a problem, contact Indiana Coyote Rescue (www.coyoterescue.org) for compassionate advice.

If we make peace with the coyotes, perhaps there is hope that we can, one day, live in peace with each other.

The Rev. Marian Patience Harvey