Coyotes

This from my friend Tom Rush, the best folk singer in America, and a wildlife activist who -- with his now wife, Rene Askins, former director of the Wolf Fund (on whose advisory board I was proud to serve) -- was instrumental in getting wolves back in Yellowstone. He has given me permission to post the actual recording (which I will, if I can figure out how). Meanwhile, here are the words. (There are places in the West where Tom does not sing this song). A COWBOY’S PAEAN* (to a coyote) *Music. A song of joyful praise or exultation. Pronounced “peein.” Words and Music by Tom Rush, © Tubbs Hill Music, 2000 From Tom Rush's album "Trolling for Owls,” used courtesy of the music store at: TomRush.com Go on out and shoot yourself some coyotes, Makes a man feel good, Lord, it makes a man feel proud! Go on our and shoot yourself some coyotes, One for Mother, one for Country, one for God. Well, if you’re having trouble with the truck, or with the woman, Maybe them kids are screwin’ up in school, If the cows are actin’ smarter than the cowboy, You gotta show the world you ain’t nobody’s fool. Go on out and shoot yourself some coyotes, Makes a man feel good, Lord, it makes a man feel proud! Go on our and shoot yourself some coyotes, One for Mother, one for Country, one for God. I got my 30.30 and my eyes are 20/20, I got my M16 and my trusty .44, I got my 10-80 and my IQ’s double digits! Boys, this is gonna be an all-out war. I got my field rations straight from old Jack Daniel’s, Hank, Jr.’s on the 8 track in my 4X4, And I’d shoot a thousand coyotes if I could only just find one, ‘cause, boys, that’s what God made coyotes for. Go on out and shoot yourself some coyotes, Makes a man feel good, Lord, it makes a man feel proud! Go on our and shoot yourself some coyotes, One for Mother, one for Country, one for God. So you never mind them Eastern, liberal, environmental…Democrat sissies, Vegetarians are just a passing fad, Just tip your hat and wish ‘em “via con…carne,” Then go on out and make ‘em hopping mad! Go on out and shoot yourself some coyotes, Makes a man feel good, Lord, it makes a man feel proud! Go on our and shoot yourself some coyotes, One for Mother, one for Country, one for God. # VERMONT’S ‘GREAT’ COYOTE ROUNDUP Last week a close friend of mine—a hunter—sent me a terse note that read simply, “And hunters wonder why they have an image problem?” He was referring to the on-going coyote-killing ‘roundups’ in Addison County that have generated no small amount of statewide attention. Folks from all over Vermont have been weighing in on the propriety of the activity. It’s legal. You can shoot coyotes year-round in Vermont, 24 hrs. a day. No limit on the number you can kill. You can run them with dogs, use all sorts of calls, bait, and assemble as many of your friends and neighbors as you can tolerate for all the foregoing. Not sure about using aircraft, but they do that in Alaska on wolves. Ah, those predators. Like Little League Baseball, they bring out the best—and the worst—in humans. The coyote roundups seem to me to belong to the latter category. Why? Well, what’s the point of killing them? “We’re doing it for the deer,” say the organizers. Okay, what do the data say? If you’re the curious type you read all the coyote research you can stomach and you learn that the general conclusion by researchers—some of them from Vermont—is that coyotes eat some deer but have little, if any, effect on the total number of deer in any particular area of the state. Other researchers have found that coyotes have a predictable response to increased predation on them by humans—or other predators. Litter sizes tend to increase. So, the coyote is, in effect, saying to those ‘hunters,’ “Okay boys, shoot all of my relatives you can shoot. I’ll show you. I’ll have more pups.” It’s hardly a stretch to conclude that larger litters mean a higher food demand for coyote parents which means they have to hunt and kill more themselves—maybe even an additional deer here and there. So, “Doing it for the deer,” seems not to be justified. Dr. David Hirth, respected wildlife researcher and member of the faculty of UVM’s Rubenstein School of Natural Resources, agreed. When asked about the potential, helpful effect of coyote roundups on Vermont’s deer, he was quoted as saying, “Zilch. Forget it.” Given that, one is moved to wonder why the coyote rounduppers persist in their efforts to kill coyotes. Why do they assemble in large groups just for the sake of killing? “It’s legal,” some say. Well, so is driving slowly in the passing lane but it doesn’t make you many friends. And we hunters need friends. Consider this. Vermont is more than 80% privately owned. Hunting in Vermont depends on its acceptance by those of us who own that land. Fortunately, most landowners do just that. But things are changing; increased fragmentation of land, a loss of family farms leading to more diverse ownership, a maturing of Vermont vegetation (less food, fewer deer), and decreasing numbers of hunters. Posting land in opposition to ‘coyote roundups’ appears to be happening already in some sections of Addison County. Large-scale extermination campaigns on predators are probably as old as humanity. They—predators—compete with us humans, so we kill them. Simple. Well, maybe. Some would argue that predators of the deer—over the eons—effectively shaped the deer and its behavior. Predation made the deer fast, made it elusive, made it “smart,” the very characteristics hunters list when asked why they love hunting deer. Well, those large mammalian predators such as wolves and mountain lions have been absent from Vermont for a long time, but maybe not forever. In the meantime, coyotes saw an empty seat at the table and made themselves at home. About 40-50 years ago coyotes began hiking in from Ontario—so the story goes. They are bigger—a lot bigger—than their western relatives. Some say that their increased size reflects wolf genes. Bottom line is that they’re here, part of the landscape. Anyone out there who has not heard coyotes howling? Yeah, I like it too, but sometimes it’s a bit creepy. Now, there is evidence the wolf may recolonize portions of the Northern Forest. If the coyote walked in from Ontario why not the wolf from Quebec? There are healthy populations not too far north of the border. And wolves do kill some deer—and moose, beaver, raccoons, other wolves, and even coyotes. As a life-long hunter, someone who organizes his life around such activities, I am troubled by this ‘roundup’ behavior. I recall my late father’s instruction as he brought me into the hunting fraternity, “Son,” said he, “You shoot it, you eat it, or you lose the right to be a real hunter.” If the coyote rounduppers continue their organized killing there will be at least two groups of losers; a few coyotes and a lot of hunters. Steve E. Wright Northeast Regional Representative National Wildlife Federation Northeast Natural Resource Center 58 State Street Montpelier, Vermont 05602 802-229-0650 X 312