Outdoors with Tom Venesky: The truth about coyote hunts

By Tom Venesky - [email protected]

Last month a letter appeared in the Times Leader regarding coyote hunts. The writer chastised such hunts and was obviously opposed to them.

I have no problem with that. Everyone has a right to their opinion.

But I have an opinion too, and I take exception to the outlandish claims that paint coyote hunts, and all of hunting in general, in a bad light.

I usually don’t respond to views of anti-hunters when they’re printed in the paper. I hunt in a legal, ethical manner so it doesn’t really bother me when someone is in opposition.

But when those opposing views are fueled by lies and exaggeration, I get concerned that the non-hunting public — which is the majority of people in this state — may get the wrong idea about the sport I love.

That’s why I feel it necessary to respond to this particular letter, which ran on Feb. 10.

The writer claims that coyotes are tortured during hunts, and they are “brutally slaughtered.”

I’ve covered several coyote hunts in the area of the years, and I’ve gotten to know the organizers and many of the participants. There is nothing “brutal” about what they do, and to imply torture is simply a far-fetched fabrication.

But if a non-hunter read the letter and saw such egregious terms used to describe coyote hunts, they would certainly get the wrong idea.

Keying on emotions is a great way to convince someone to take up your side. That’s what the writer of the letter was attempting to do, and I admit it’s an effective approach.

But there is one tactic that works even better: Facts.

In the letter, the writer claimed, “It is bad enough they are tortured, but some hunters use hound dogs, which is done by the cruelest, blood thirsty among hunters. Typically, hunters will wound coyotes in the leg area, so the hounds can easily catch up with them, and the hounds tear them apart.”

The writer fails to cite any scientific research or studies to back up the allegation, and that’s because it’s a lie.

I know many hunters who pursue coyotes with dogs. I’ve gone on a few hunts with them, and most of the coyotes brought in to organized competitions — such as the ones held in Sweet Valley and Tunkhannock, are taken by hunters using dogs.

And they aren’t shot in the legs, nor are they torn apart by the dogs.

The goal of every hunter is to end a coyote chase with one well-placed shot, as is the case with all forms of hunting.

The writer further alleges that coyotes aren’t hunted for nuisance reasons, but rather as a means to keep deer populations high for hunters.

How’s that working out?

In reality, we do hunt and trap coyotes partly to benefit the deer population. It’s called maintaining a balance between predator and prey, and it’s a common concept of wildlife management.

Coyotes are also hunted in order to address nuisance concerns, such as preying on livestock and even the family pet, which does happen.

Lastly, the writer claims that coyotes are a self-regulating species and there is no reason to hunt them.

All species are self-regulating. But how do coyotes self-regulate?

They do it through diseases such as rabies and distemper and even starvation after the available prey in an area has been depleted.

Does those sound like better options that hunting?

I have hunted and trapped coyotes, but I am not the blood-thirsty, merciless hunter that the letter writer insinuates.

As I do with all wildlife, I respect coyotes. I enjoy seeing them and I’m always fascinated when I hear them howl at night.

But, unlike the letter writer, I’m not going to lie about the reality of the situation. Coyote populations need to be managed and a balance must be maintained for the benefit of both predator and prey — and us.

That is best done by lawful, ethical hunting, and not falsehoods and exaggerations.


By Tom Venesky

[email protected]

Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky

Reach Tom Venesky at 570-991-6395 or on Twitter @TomVenesky