SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

May 14, 2014

Letter: Leash laws not a proper response to coyote problem

To the editor:

This is in response to the May 5 letter, “Living with coyotes.”

Stalking and attack by a coywolf in a residential area should be reported, and no one should be discouraged from doing so. The extent and frequency of coywolf attacks is not appreciated if not collected (the state Department of Fish and Wildlife only offers a recorded message) or there is a blame-the-victim response.

The coywolf is a hybrid between a coyote and a wolf, is unusually large and is specialized to live and hunt in urban environments. Unlike native coyotes, it most often travels alone in urban neighborhoods so as to avoid detection. It will hunt and eat anything it can overcome, either established suburban wildlife or domestic pets. California has a particular problem with attacks on children. In recent years, it has just about eliminated the red fox and woodchucks in our area, and it’s rapidly eliminating rabbits and native wild turkeys. As an unregulated canine species, the coywolf can spread rabies, distemper, heartworm and sarcoptic mange.

While we are in overwhelming support of controlling the population of cats and dogs, the coywolf population is allowed to expand unmanaged on whatever will suffice to feed them in urban and suburban habitats. A single coywolf pair can add 100 coywolf offspring to the same territory in only two years.

While I might have had a more Disney view of the coywolf before the attack on my dogs and me, that event prompted me to take a more in-depth look at this creature and the coywolf situation. One thing that was very clear is that the political hot button of leash laws is not the issue or solution to the coywolf problem.

Sharon Shea

Salem

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