More thoughts on coyote — Elisabeth Miller

I am writing in response to Lisa Jablow’s disapproval of hunting coyotes for prizes (“Against hunting coyotes for prizes,” The Citizen, Jan. 4).

First of all, I agree with Ms. Jablow’s aversion to the insensitive portrayals of hunting so often found on social media. That said, I think we really do have a serious problem with coyotes in this state. Coyotes appeared in Vermont as recently as 1940 and they aren’t settling in well as a new species. Their fast-growing numbers and increasingly aggressive behavior is rightfully a cause for concern.

I grew up in Addison County as the daughter of an insurance salesman. I often went on calls with my father and was not shielded from the difficult realities of life. The worse thing I ever saw, however, was a pen full of sheep after coyotes had come through. Ms. Jablow was distressed by reckless human violence, but animal violence is something less talked about yet still important. It was the middle of summer, food was not scarce, and some of the sheep had been killed through disembowelment.

I have had family members and friends stalked by coyotes. Because Vermont has no wolves or mountain lions, the natural predators of the coyote, this unpleasant job falls almost entirely to humans. The difficultly then lies in motivation.

Most hunters are respectful citizens who love being out in nature and bringing home high-quality, organic table fare to their families. As scavengers, the coyote offers them edible but not desirable food (yes, some people do eat coyotes – yikes!) and a hide that few know what to do with. Thus, the prize incentives. It’s not perfect, but doing little or nothing about coyotes is in fact a choice – a choice that will eventually damage the balance of wildlife in this beautiful state.

Elisabeth Miller

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