Let’s be clear about the coyote-red wolf controversy. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a plan to deal with the coyote crossbreeding with red wolves. The wildlife service captures and neuters coyotes pairing with red wolves so they won’t produce offspring. By maintaining these resident mixed-species pairs, they exclude new coyotes from their territories. Remaining red wolf pairs produce young and build the wolf population.
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has not supported this plan and opened the five-county recovery area to coyote hunting despite pleas to the contrary. The USFWS plan is indeed experimental, but allowing the shooting of coyotes and (by mistake) red wolves in the recovery zone has made matters worse.
It is questionable management to label coyotes as a nuisance predator with year-round open season and no bag limits. Classify them as a game animal with seasonal restrictions. Studies have shown you can’t shoot coyote populations into submission – their behavior and breeding patterns change.
Coyotes are not native to N.C., but they are to the U.S. They fill the void created when we eliminated predators, like the red wolf. They help control over-populations of deer, Canada geese and feral cats, especially in our suburban parks.
John I. Connors