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Public reaction to coyotes


Dear editor,  The Newfoundland and Labrador Trapper’s Association (NLTA) was founded in 1977 to support fur-harvesting activities in our province and to promote and uphold standards that help to ensure humane and responsible harvest of wild furbearers.

We believe that it is important that the public understand and appreciate that trapping is a legitimate wildlife management tool. The fur industry is an important part of our economy and is tremendously important to the traditions and lifestyles of the people involved as trappers, many of whom reside in rural communities in our province.

The arrival of coyotes on the island of Newfoundland in the mid 1980s has sparked many debates, thoughts and misconceptions about this animal’s origin, its population size, and its impact on other wildlife as the newest predator on our landscape. Despite most of the negative information put out by various sources, including the media and other groups, the coyote’s presence here has had a huge impact on people’s beliefs about coyotes and how they interact with other wildlife. As a result there is not a doubt that a greater need exits for the public to be mindful of the issues and challenges being faced with having coyotes living near or in our cities, towns and communities.  

The NLTA firmly believes that public calls for eradication or broad-scale removal of coyotes from our landscape is simply not a practical solution or even possible given our vast geography. We believe that government’s current approach towards educating the pubic and supporting programs to enhance participation in the legal harvest of wildlife is a responsible and necessary action. However, calls by some groups and individuals to increase the current carcass collection fee of $25 paid by government (often mistakenly referred to as a bounty) to act as an incentive to boost coyote hunting or trapping efforts is not a reasonable or practical solution in dealing with coyote populations that now exist island-wide. In fact, the outcomes of such an approach will likely only create problems for trappers such as “trap theft”.  Other jurisdictions that have had coyotes for a lot longer than we have and have used bounties to help address these issues have realized these efforts are simply not effective.  

Generally speaking coyote encounters and conflicts are very rare but unfortunately they can occur. Coyotes can become a problem if they become familiar with humans or have an easy source of food around communities. We encourage the public to act responsibly when you become aware that problem coyotes are near your communities and to contact your local authorities. Avoid potential conflicts by practicing simple acts like keeping pets inside or on a leash; don’t leave garbage around your property; never intentionally feed wild animals; and, never run from a coyote, always act aggressively if you see one. In most cases wild animals are more afraid of you than you are of them, and it is better for wildlife if we keep it that way.

Trappers are well equipped to help manage coyotes and other nuisance wildlife and can assist government and communities with controlling specific problem wildlife issues. The NLTA and individual trappers have a vested interested in upholding the standards involved in humane harvest of wildlife and promoting responsible hunting and trapping, including for coyotes. Our goals are to continue the efforts and to protect our culture and traditions from being challenged by those who are not connected to these activities. We hope that the public will also recognize and support our interests.

 Ken White

                                                                                                     NLTA president

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