Spring has arrived, and all new life is being born here in Maine. Our coyotes are having their pups now, and the pups will remain dependent on their parents for a long time. Coyote parents are devoted to their pups ~ they are very protective of them, will hunt wild prey to feed them, and will teach them all they need to know to survive in the wild.
Coyote pups do not inherit a fixed repertory of behavior, but like us must learn everything from their parents. That is why it is so important that they live in a stable environment in which both their parents remain alive, protect their territory, and know all the food available in their territory. In this way the parents are able to teach their young how to hunt their wild prey efficiently…and as a result not be hungry.
The laws as they stand in the state of Maine allow for the killing of coyotes year round, day and night. As a result, what we have here in Maine is persecution of a complex social carnivore, and the effects of this can be felt by many people in Maine. For when coyote parents are killed, their pups are very immature and do not know how to hunt effectively….and they are hungry and do not have the maturity to sustain their own territory. As a result they become transients who often can end up killing livestock. These same immature “orphans” will more readily find themselves in people’s back yards looking for food, as they do not know how to hunt effectively. Because they are so young they do not understand the danger of being too close to humans.
Even if one parent is killed, experience of our research has shown that it throws the family into chaos. Wild canines, like ourselves and own dogs have complex emotions, ans the loss of a family member is traumatizing to them. They grieve the loss of their own, but also have to carry on in some way. This is something we know about them!
As a scientist, I see the great need to change our laws regarding coyotes, and give them the protection from persecution that they deserve as our fellow beings. I encourage our Maine people to contact their state legislators and express this need.