It had to happen sooner or later but come on – “Selfies” with wild animals? Cheryl Santa Maria writing for the Digital Recorder reports that residents of Montreal have been posting Instagram selfies with Coyotes. Essentially, the article reflects an increased number of Coyote sightings from last June to this April in Montreal. Now the average person is going to ask, “why would an wild animal that avoids people get close enough for a selfie?” Even Instagram has admonished their users against attempting selfies with wild animals, it never turns out well! Habituation is a word that keeps appearing in ongoing instances of human interaction with wildlife. The action of humans attempting to “help wild life” by feeding them is not a good practice and is discouraged by any and all wildlife scientist! However, PETA has a different view on the subject – This author disagrees with PETA on that stance! When wild animals start getting comfortable being around humans the relationship will end badly for both the humans and the wildlife!
Feeding wildlife encourages even closer associations. Stop for a moment and think back about the times as a child you were offering the family pet a treat. What happens when you put out a treat to a pet and then quickly pull the treat back? Instinctively the pet will lunge forward and attempt to snag the treat before it gets away. Too often the snagged items are the fingers holding the treat, OUCH! Screaming at the top of their lungs children will run off crying to Mom that the dog/cat just bit them. The family pet will run away but wild animals often interpret the wailing and fleeing as a sign of distress and intensify their attack. Change the picture here just a bit, the Coyote is hunting and a human walks by with a small dog/cat on leash. OK maybe the small dog has just seen a Coyote . . .
We have one perspective, the Coyote another. The Coyote sees a small dog/cat trying to get away from the human. Must be food and the human can’t catch it, why the cord/rope? The Coyote goes into attack mode chasing after the small animal. The human yanks the pet up into their arms much like the child pulling the treat back. The Coyote attack intensifies, the pet begins crying and squirming meanwhile the human attempts to fight back. Being larger the human may have a slight advantage but depending on their hunger/aggressiveness, the Coyote has more of a reason to continue the attack. Not a pretty picture for either the Coyote or the human and pet! Go back a few days in time, this happened because the Coyote found a bit of human-provided food during its evening forage along this trail which was left behind by some well meaning human.
Oh Yeah, and for, those of you who think your dog is too big to be attacked. A seventy pound Labrador Retriever got off lucky because its owner stood his ground between his dog and a forty pound Coyote. A seventy pound Labrador versus a forty pound Coyote? An obvious mismatch but all too often the Coyote comes out a winner in those confrontations! This story comes out of Indiana which has seen increased instances of Coyotes or Coydogs which are typically much heavier then their western kin. Speaking of Coyotes along the eastern seaboard, more and more Coyote encounters are being recorded. The common thinking there is that more and more subdivisions are encroaching into the wilds hence more encounters with Coyotes and other wild animals. Encroachment into wild life may not be avoided as more and more humans decide that the city life is not for them. Unfortunately, most city dwellers have the wrong perspective of living with or among wild life! Now about those selfies – cell phone or digital camera?
Next edition find out why trapping, shooting and poisoning are not the only choices.
Stay Tuned – There is more to come on the Coyote Cam