Killing Coyotes is Futile

The title of an article published in a recent issue of Georgia Outdoor News was “Save a Fawn, Kill a Coyote.”  This is the first line of that article–“Killing coyotes is fun.”  I just have to comment on this sadistic stupidity.

Ranchers have been trying to exterminate coyotes in the western states for 150 years.  Trapping, shooting, and poisoning have all failed.  Instead, coyote populations have increased, and they’ve recolonized the eastern states where they had been absent for about 10,000 years.  Wildlife management scientists understand why hunting coyotes has little impact on their long term numbers.  F.F. Knowles studied coyotes in Texas during the early 1970’s.  He found that in south Texas, where coyotes are abundant and under little hunting pressure, female coyotes produce an average litter size of 4.3, while in north Texas, where coyotes are extensively hunted, female coyotes produce an average litter size of 6.9.

Coyotes under human hunting pressure produce larger litters.  This mother has at least 9 pups.

Coyotes that are under human hunting pressure produce larger litters.  So when these stupid hunters kill a coyote, they are helping to increase the coyote population in the long term, thereby increasing fawn mortality.  They are not saving fawns as the title to the GON article falsely claims.  Another study examined the differences between populations of hunted and not hunted coyotes in Montana.  This study also found that female coyotes of the hunted population produced larger litters.  Moreover, pups from the hunted populations had a higher survival rate than pups from non hunted populations because the number of rodents and rabbits had increased from the previous year after some coyotes had been removed from the environment.  Coyote populations did temporarily dip immediately after they were hunted but completely rebounded to their former abundance in about 9 months.  Coyotes eat an average of 5 rodents a day.  Populations of mice, rats, and rabbits naturally increased until coyote numbers bounced back.  One can obviously assume from these studies that hunting coyotes serves no practical purpose for wildlife management.  Hunters should just be honest with themselves and admit they want to shoot coyotes for the hell of it because they like to kill animals, not because they are saving the deer herd.  (Note: I do believe there’s nothing wrong with farmers killing coyotes they catch in the act of attacking their livestock.)

I think anybody who kills coyotes for fun is a sadistic sociopath.  It’s like shooting your neighbor’s dog.  I’m not against hunting for food, but many hunters don’t shoot animals for food, they kill animals because they like to hurt living things.  These guys are the same kind of people who made good concentration camp guards during the holocaust.  They’re the same kind of people who participated in the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War.  And they live amongst us.

I used to post on the Georgia Outdoor News message board, but 1 of the moderators threatened to ban me every time I expressed my opinion.  Rednecks don’t have much tolerance for people with different opinions than their own.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t resist rubbing it in after the last election.  They all think Obama is some kind of socialist anti-christ.  I think Obama and the democrats are marginally better than the republicans, but they are both bad for the environment–the 1 issue I really care about.  I posted a topic on their political forums entitled “Hicks and Haters Lost the Election.”  The moderator banned me again (I’ve come back under different aliases).  I also got banned from SEC Rant for using the word, hick.  Hicks really don’t like to be called hicks.


I believe the species of wolf that lived in southeastern North America until the 19th century is extinct.  Genetic studies suggest the red wolves that wildlife biologists re-introduced are coywolves–hybrid coyote (Canis latrans) and gray wolf (Canis lupus) mixes.  We will never know if there was a distinct southeastern species of wolf unless scientists examine the DNA of the fossil specimen found in Fern Cave (See ).  Dire wolves were the dominant canid across the south during the Rancho La Brean land mammal age of the late Pleistocene, but coyotes did occur in the region then, occupying a scavenging, rodent-killing niche.  I hypothesize that when dire wolves became extinct, southeastern coyotes evolved into a larger canid that lived across the southeast until man wiped them out.  Whether they deserved full species status is debatable.

Coyote near Atlanta, Georgia.  Looks like a wolf to me.

Red wolf.  Looks like a coyote to me.

I see coyotes quite often in Richmond County, Georgia–both live and road-killed specimens.  Coyotes patrol state highways looking for other road-killed animal to eat and often become victims of motor vehicles as well.  I’ve seen a large reddish coyote that resembles the red wolf in the above photo.  On one occasion a coyote trotted across the vacant lot on the opposite side of the street from my house and exhibited the pouncing behavior they use to catch mice.



“Demographic and Spatial Responses of Coyotes to Changes in Food and Exploitation”

Wildlife Damage Management Conference 1-1-2005

Knowlton, F.F.

“Preliminary Interpetations of Coyote Population Mechanics with some Management Implications”

Journal of Wildlife Management 36 1972

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12 Responses to “Killing Coyotes is Futile”

  1. Mark L Says:

    Mark, yeah I’d like to see the Fern cave wolf tested too…almost seems like someone is deliberately avoiding it. Specifically, I’m curious if the Caru-3 allele is present. I’ve also noticed that few coyotes in Georgia, Tenn, and Alabama are included in genetic sampling for research papers, while Texas and NC seem to be overrepresented. Odd.
    I suspect very few people ‘bother’ with historical coyote genetic material, and as each generation is shot or DOR’d, the evidence dwindles. Wouldn’t it be ironic if we found a decent amount of red wolf genetic material in some of the coyotes people shoot and never bother to test…like looking for indians in the south after the Indian Removal Act, the ones that LOOKED like indians were soon gone, and the remaining ones were labelled white or redbone (put with blacks), depending on features.

    • markgelbart Says:

      Some of the coyotes caught on trail cams or shot in Georgia are black with a white breast and are larger than western coyotes. These resemble a color variation of the red wolves that used to live in Georgia. I sometimes wonder, if the wolves that were living in the south were ever completely exterminated.

  2. jamesrobertsmith Says:

    Anyone who kills “varmints” for fun is a sick individual. Keep such folk far away from me.

    The only red wolves I have actually seen are the ones I recently viewed at a State Park zoo in Florida. They did indeed look a lot different from any coyote I have ever seen. Yeah, I suspect coyotes come in all shapes and sizes (within reason), but these animals didn’t just look like big coyotes.

    Another thing about the red wolves–at least in the populations that were temporarily reintroduced to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park–is that they howl like wolves. I hear lots of coyote calls and sound and calls when I hiking and backpacking, but I have NEVER heard any of them howl. I have, however, heard the recordings of the red wolves howling during the failed reintroduction to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. (And that reintroduction failed because coyotes had so firmly established themselves in the Park.)

    However…DNA doesn’t lie. It’s probable that the “Red wolves” that I have seen and the ones we read about, are actually coyote-wolf hybrids.

    One of the weirdest sounds you will hear in the southeast are the early evening choruses that big packs of coyotes send up. I’ve tried to describe it to people, and the closest I can come is to try to imagine several ambulance sirens all going off at the same time but at different cadences. On one backpacking trip I took into the Panthertown Valley some years ago there was a pack that would come down to my campsite and stay just out of sight while they serenaded me with that crazy song from 7:00 pm until 7:30 pm. Just about thirty minutes every night. Then they’d shut up and go away.

  3. Mark L Says:

    I only get to see/hear coyotes on either trash or recycling night and during full moons (I live in the woods). We seem to have the same ones and they don’t care for people, or our pets since around 2010. It took a while to ‘grow’ our local coyotes to maturity, where they all ‘get’ what’s OK and what’s not.
    The only ‘pure’ (?) red wolves I’ve ever seen are in Brevard zoo and in Chattanooga….though I have seen some really big coyotes (60+).

  4. The Secret World of Red Wolves by T. Delene Beeland | GeorgiaBeforePeople Says:

    […] wolves are sterilized, but not killed because killing coyotes increases coyote populations.  (See  Actually, it’s sad how little mystery surrounds the lives of the final remnant population […]

  5. Mark L Says:

    A guy named Rickey Butch Walker had an article from 2011 on ‘lost animals from the Warrior mountains’ (Bankhead Natl Forest/Winston county AL) and recalls ‘timber’, red, and black wolves in north Alabama area also…but is based on historical info (you never know….150 lb. wolf and all). It’s an entertaining read but I can’t get the website to link on my cellphone.

  6. Doug P. Says:

    You start off talking about coyotes and wind up with your lips on obama’s butt,which if you don’t think is a socialist your stupid or his comrade.I was interested till you had to rant and start calling everybody names.You Libs are supposed to be the tolerant ones but anyone with Any sense knows different……

    • markgelbart Says:

      I wrote Obama and the democrats were only marginally better than the republicans.

      I wrote that both democrats and republicans were bad for the environment.

      How is that kissing Obama’s butt?

  7. Daniel Kwolps Says:

    I realize you wrote this a long time ago, but i happened upon it while trying to get some information about coyotes’ levels of intelligence. I would first like to point out that hunting in general is, in fact, fun. The reason this is true, is because it is ingrained in our DNA. We are a species that long ago not only hunted our prey, but also learned to hunt our competition. When people kill animals perceived as either a food source or animals that would eat your food source, they are rewarded on a biological level with dopamine. I read another commenter saying that killing coyotes was like killing someone’s dog, but again, dog’s are not perceived as competitors, but rather, domesticated creatures that aid humans. There is absolutely no similarity between killing coyotes and domesticated animals. In my lifetime I’ve hunted quail, pheasant, deer, bears, squirrels, rabbits, foxes, bobcats, and yes, coyotes. The only issue that i have with your whole article besides it being infused with a great deal of personal opinion, is a lot of it is based on conjecture. Here in south Georgia, our local deer population was suffering when i was a child due to coyotes. We had found multiple carcasses throughout the year, and by the time hunting season came around, we had slim pickings. Even now i remember every night i would lay in bed and between 10 and 11 pm they would howl. My neighbors decided to start hunting them and after a few years we noticed the deer population increased. Hunting coyotes was not futile for us.

    • markgelbart Says:

      Your experience is what is referred to as anecdotal evidence. Scientific studies debunk your anecdotal evidence. Coyotes produce large litters in response to hunting pressure. That is fact. Hunting them does not reduce their population. My article is based on these scientific studies, not on conjecture as you falsely claimed.

      I see no difference between killing a coyote and killing a dog. They are similar animals. One is wild, the other is simply a love slave of the human race.

      Of course hunting is fun for some people because sadism is fun for sadists.

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