Published on March 13th, 2009 | by Michael Ratliff
Who's At Fault for Coyote Attacks: People or Animals?
Coyote attacks are on the rise in the Denver area this winter. Unfortunately, the simple solution that people have come up with is to shoot coyotes.
Living in Colorado, I witness the conflict between wildlife and encroaching human sprawl each day on my commute. I have become almost jaded to sight of dead elk on the side of I-70. The million dollar ‘elk fence’ installed over the past summer seemed to only agonize the problem by trapping elk on the highway’s thin grassy median. This ‘solution’, although flawed, seems to be a much better alternative to what is being done in Denver to control coyote attacks.
There have been 5 coyote attacks in the Denver area this winter. This number is high considering the state wide average is one attack per year. Some think the rise is due to an increase of prey from the past two mild winters. Others think the attacks have to do with the approaching breeding season and thus more aggressive behavior. I have somewhat of a different theory: human irresponsibility.
One of the attacks occurred on a golf course where patrons are known to feed coyotes. Two other attacks involved people playing fetch with dogs in areas with leash restrictions. In one incident, an unleashed dog approached a coyote, provoking a second coyote to attack the pet’s owner. The Colorado Department of Wildlife still vows to kill any coyote that is aggressive towards people, regardless of who is at fault for the attack. The urban coyotes typically weigh 20-40 pounds, no bigger than a medium sized dog.
I wonder how people would feel if every aggressive dog was shot. After all, there were over 429 reported dog bites in Denver in 2007. People need to realize that the coyotes are not in fault and that we are encroaching on their territory.