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Letters to the Editor 1-23-19

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‘Jeremy’ had questionable information about coyote contests

Dear Editor,

The Monitor article about Land Commissioner (our own) Stephanie Garcia Richard signing an executive order to prohibit coyote-killing contests on State Trust Land contained questionable information from a source identified only as ‘”Jeremy.”

“Jeremy” (we assume he is a participant in killing contests) claimed that reining in competitive killing would result in “more sheep and livestock attacks” while at the same time stating an arresting contradiction that it was impossible to put a dent coyote populations by killing them.

Published research (available at the Project Coyote website that includes the full names of the scientists involved) shows that while killing coyotes doesn’t really impact coyote numbers as they biologically have a prodigious ability to compensate for loss, it does upend their social order. It results in a population that is young and inexperienced and likely to lead to more conflict with people.

“Jeremy” (whoever he is) also claims that coyotes mostly eat cats (for an hors d’oeuvre before? desert after? they killed the sheep and cattle?). This is demonstrably false. Coyote diet is primarily rabbits and rodents, and when those are hard to come by, coyotes can live on juniper berries and even grasshoppers. Most of us have seen their seed-filled droppings.

Even in some cities like Chicago where coyotes have been studied for several decades and where cats are readily available, coyote mainstay is rats and trash, not cats. Yes, here in Los Alamos we know that coyotes are opportunistic and eat cats — but we cat owners know that it’s also our responsibility to take precautions to protect our beloved felines.

Finally, this guy “Jeremy” claims hunters have paid their dues — presumably he means fees for tags for deer, elk, and other game animals. But “Jeremy” isn’t paying anything to kill as many coyotes as he wants on State Trust Land whose primary purpose is to earn revenue for public schools, universities, and some hospitals (nmstatelands.org/trust-beneficiaries.aspx). Commissioner SGR is certainly looking out for our kids’ interests (and “Jeremy’s kids’, too) to stop the just-for-fun slaughter of coyotes on our State Trust Lands.

Which certainly begs the larger question: How come coyotes — so necessary in moderating rodent numbers including those that carry plague and hanta virus — don’t get more respect.

Jody Benson
Los Alamos