- - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The title of Valerie Richardson’s Sept. 28 piece, “Deadly coyotes spread across U.S. suburbs, devouring family pets,” makes it sound like a contemporary horror novel, not a news article.

Fear-mongering may make for eye-catching headlines, but it should not be confused with legitimate journalism. The truth is that coyotes are not the threat that the article would lead us to believe. In fact, considering that a single coyote eats more than 1,800 rodents per day (easily their preferred prey of choice), they provide neighborhoods willing to coexist with them with a free, eco-friendly, pest-control service.

My husband and I are ranchers who run 300 mother cows in pastures alongside coyote packs. We use no lethal controls to protect our livestock and have very few problems. As for the urban coyotes devouring pets, my mother lived for decades in the Hollywood Hills, which probably has one of the densest coyotes populations on earth. We installed coyote rollers on her fence and she kept her pets inside between dusk and dawn. When her dogs went out for walks in the hills, we kept them on leashes. Problem solved.

Many people don’t care to admit that the vast majority of “coyote problems” could be solved if people were more responsible pet owners.

Whether we like them or hate them, choose to kill them or coexist with them, coyotes are here to stay. The way in which we respond to their presence says a lot about who we are as people. Some will choose to remain ignorant, fearful and kill what they can’t control. Thankfully, others understand that learning to live peacefully with wildlife is a privilege that makes our lives fuller and turns us into better human beings.

KELI HENDRICKS

Advisory board member

Project Coyote

Petaluma, Calif.


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