PETA requests alternative to killing coyotes

On Oct. 1, 2003, PETA sent a letter to Rockford Mayor Doug Scott, urging him not to hire trappers to harm or kill a family of coyotes currently living near a wooded area between Rockford College and OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center. Offering to work with the city to devise a humane strategy, PETA points out that lethal traps are extremely cruel and pose a threat to companion animals and children. Moreover, killing or removing the coyotes is only a short-term solution, since other animals will simply move into the favorable habitat when it becomes available. The letter states:

Dear Mayor Scott: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is a nonprofit organization with more than 750,000 members and supporters dedicated to animal protection. Our office has been inundated with calls, e-mail messages, and letters regarding the recent article in the Rockford Register Star about the city’s plans to hire a trapper to remove a family of six coyotes living in Rockford. As PETA’s wildlife biologist, I often receive requests from municipalities for assistance with proven humane methods of managing wildlife, and I am writing to offer our assistance in finding a solution to the current coyote dilemma in Rockford that everyone can live with, including the coyotes.

Trapping, killing, or otherwise removing coyotes is a short-sighted solution—as long as the habitat is attractive or accessible to coyotes, more will move in from surrounding areas to use the available resources. Furthermore, trappers often use cruel body-gripping traps and leg-hold traps to capture and kill coyotes. Body-gripping traps cause immeasurable suffering. In many cases, Conibear (body-gripping) traps fail to catch the animals quickly or on target. In “Killing Trap Technology” (The American Trapper, January/February 1989), former National Trappers Association President Tom Krause states, “Traps of the standard Conibear design exhibit trigger aversion problems, and do not acceptably position sufficient numbers of animals for killing blows.” Leg-hold traps are also extremely cruel—when the trap clamps around a limb, it breaks bones, tears ligaments, and causes deep skin lacerations. Often, terrified animals chew off their own legs or feet in an attempt to escape. These archaic devices are also indiscriminate and capable of injuring children and killing companion animals and nontarget wild animals who wander into them.

The residents of Rockford can easily discourage coyotes from entering their yards by making their property less hospitable. Homeowners should keep garbage in tightly-sealed containers and should not feed companion animals outside. Although coyote attacks on companion animals are rare, it is always safest to keep companion animals indoors or carefully watch them when they are outside. Homeowners can also frighten coyotes away with flashing lights or noisemakers. I am attaching detailed information on these methods and suppliers of materials.

Taking the simple precautions described above will serve the best interests of both human beings and coyotes in Rockford. Our members are anxious to hear that the coyotes in Rockford will not be harmed, so please call me as soon as possible at 757-622-7382, extension 1614, to let me know that Rockford has halted plans to kill the coyote family. I will also be glad to provide further assistance. Thank you for your consideration.

Stephanie Boyles is a wildlife biologist in the Research and Investigations Department of PETA.

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