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Coywolf researcher proposes National Canid Protection Act

[large thumbnail url=”coywolf-researcher-proposes-national-canid-protection-act” filename=”science” year=”2010″ month=”01″ day=”04″] [thumbnail icon url=”coywolf-researcher-proposes-national-canid-protection-act” filename=”science” year=”2010″ month=”01″ day=”04″] With coywolves getting exposure in the news again – see Eastern Coyotes have a touch of wolf in them – So unique are these animals, that some are calling for the animal to be identified as a new species, HOWLColorado researched further.

It appears that the research into wolf-coyote hybridization goes back a number of years. One particular researcher, biologist Jonathan Way, has established a website ( on which he reports on his research, and offers commentary on the world of wolves, coyotes and other wild canids.

One particular recommendation which he posted on his site, which seemed like a very good place to start, was a National Canid Protection Act proposal.

Here it is in its entirety.

Eastern Coyote Research Recommends a National (or state) Canid Protection Act

This is something I have thought long and hard about for years. The way that wild canids (foxes, coyotes, wolves) are treated nationwide is appalling. Unless, they are (or were) on the Endangered Species List (e.g., wolves) most states allow unlimited hunting seasons on these social, family-oriented animals. Very few states recognize the important role that these predators play in a myriad of food chains/webs.

I often wonder if people realize just why rabbits are so quick (because of foxes and coyotes), deer are so swift (b/c of coyotes and wolves), and elk, moose, and bison are so strong (wolves). To me it is so obvious. Even the most ancient humans (Native Americans) in North America have only been here for about 10,000 years, yet the other species I just mentioned are millions of years old. Obviously, predator and prey have evolved together over millennia.

Eastern Coyote Research recommends Congress to author the “National Canid Protection Act” to reflect the importance of these predators. I am amazed how easy it is to kill these creatures when they are so closely related to our domesticated canines. For instance, a federal judge recently reversed the Bush Administration’s decision to take the wolf in the northern Rockies off the Endangered Species Act (ESA) because the states of Wyoming (especially), Idaho, and Montana effectively want to immediately more than halve the population of these magnificent predators (in the first 2-3 months of being removed from the ESA in spring 2008 over 100 wolves had been killed). That is unbelievable when you think that they are just being removed from the ESA and the Bush Admin. (and now the Obama Admin.) effectively allowed the states to wipe out half of their numbers. No regards to their ecological importance was made in taking wolves off the ESA.

Nationwide, most states allow unlimited killings (whether year-round or for half of the year) of coyotes despite the important ecological role that they maintain in a variety of ecosystems from rural to urban areas. Coyotes are rarely a danger to people yet they are still slaughtered in staggering numbers. There are very simple ways to coexist with these animals, and my website (as well as others like MassWildlife’s) provides simple recommendations to do just that. Because Congress takes a while to enact new laws, ECR also suggests that individual states like Massachusetts (through Environmental and/or Humane Groups) try to enact similar language in state statutes.

We owe it to these creatures since man’s best friend, the domestic dog, evolved directly from gray wolves. Thus, we literally live with wolves and we know that these animals are social, family oriented animals. Society will one day frown upon how we have treated other animals, and I hope canids are the first group that we look at. There are currently animal cruelty laws for harming domestic dogs yet the same person (in Massachusetts, one of the most protective states pertaining to coyote regulations) can buy a $30 hunting license and literally kill as many coyotes (coywolves) as they want for just about 6 months a year (October-March). That is unacceptable. And it is undemocratic since most (actually, the vast majority of) people don’t hunt and would rather learn how to coexist with these animals. 

The National (or state) Canid Protection Act would function similar to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Raptor/Eagle Protection Act where the random shooting of these species should be illegal, especially on our public lands.  I recommend that Congress initiate this important act so coyotes live how they should, and wolves are never legally gunned down immediately upon being taken off of the ESA.

Americans value their wildlife and I think the National Canid Protection Act would best reflect our growing understanding of all species (including competitors to us) in a myriad of ecosystems! 

You can read the original National Canid Protection Act proposal and learn more about Jonathan Way on his official website.

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