IN THIS ISSUE:
As 2017 rapidly comes to a close, I’m pleased to share positive news on the wildlife front. On December 5th, Travis County, Texas, ended its contract with the USDA’s Wildlife Services program, opting instead to employ the City of Austin’s Animal Services Office to respond to wildlife issues. Citing concerns with Wildlife Services’ reliance on lethal and indiscriminate predator control methods, the Travis County Commissioners’ decision is significant because it marks the first time a Texas county has canceled its Wildlife Services contract due to non-budgetary concerns. Furthermore, the county adopted a policy of tolerance and coexistence in its approach to living with coyotes.
Travis is among the increasing number of U.S. counties shifting away from lethal control and dependence on Wildlife Services, instead seeking help from organizations like Project Coyote for wildlife conflict solutions. Project Coyote’s Coyote Friendly Communities and Ranching with Wildlife programs are serving more urban, suburban and rural communities and generating greater support for peaceful coexistence with wildlife—even among nontraditional constituents. We believe that just as we fight the cruel and indiscriminate killing of native carnivores through the legislature and the courts, we must also offer solutions for coexistence. In this issue of Coyote Chronicles, I’m pleased to share our victories and stories that show how we are holding our wildlife agencies and policy makers accountable, while also providing models for living safely and peacefully with our wild neighbors.
Enjoy ~ and happy holidays.
For Wild Nature,
Camilla H. Fox
Founder & Executive Director
REFORMING PREDATOR MANAGEMENT
Advancing Predator Protection
In a decisive victory for wildlife, a San Francisco federal court approved a settlement requiring the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services to implement numerous protections for wildlife in Northern California, including a ban on traps and aerial gunning in designated “wilderness areas.” The settlement—in response to a lawsuit filed by Project Coyote and allies—also requires Wildlife Services to analyze the environmental impacts of its killing of coyotes, bobcats, bears, mountain lions, and other wildlife in 16 Northern California counties. Read more here and here.
REFORMING PREDATOR MANAGEMENT
Court Rules Against Monterey County Over Predator Control Program
In another victory for wildlife, the California Superior Court ruled in August that Monterey County violated state law by renewing its contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services without first analyzing the environmental impacts of the controversial wildlife-killing program. Project Coyote was one of several animal protection and conservation organizations that filed suit over the contract renewal. Read more here and here, and read the decision here.
REFORMING PREDATOR MANAGEMENT
Targeting Trapping & Holding Our Wildlife Agencies Accountable
On September 13, the Center for Biological Diversity and Project Coyote sued the California Fish and Game Commission and Department of Fish and Wildlife for improperly managing and illegally subsidizing the state’s commercial trapping program. California law requires that the state’s costs of managing a commercial trapping program—amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for wardens, biologists and administrators to oversee and enforce trapping regulations—be fully recovered through trapping license fees. Currently, license fees cover only a tiny fraction of the program’s total costs, and taxpayers are left to foot the bill for the shortfall. If the illegal subsidy is eliminated, trapping license fees would have to be set at a level that few, if any, trappers would be willing to pay, resulting in a de facto end to commercial fur trapping in California. Read more here and here, and read the Complaint here.
REFORMING PREDATOR MANAGEMENT ~ Exposing & Ending Cruelty
Jackson, WY: Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and Reception
Founder and Executive Director Camilla Fox participated in a whirlwind week of events at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival (JHWFF) in Jackson, Wyoming, where she promoted Project Coyote’s recently completed film KILLING GAMES ~ Wildlife In The Crosshairs. We’re proud to announce that KILLING GAMES was selected for inclusion in JHWFF’s WILD on Tour, and will be making the rounds of the Tour’s screenings! Science Advisory Board Member Franz Camenzind graciously hosted a reception at his home to highlight KILLING GAMES and to educate guests about the barbaric practice of wildlife killing contests. Huge thanks to Sarah Gorsline, Caroline Kraus, Deb Etheredge, Peter Coyote, Ali Van Zee, and to all of our supporters who helped to make this film a reality.
Nevada City, CA: KILLING GAMES ~ Wildlife In The Crosshairs to Premiere at Wild & Scenic Film Festival
The short version of KILLING GAMES ~ Wildlife In The Crosshairs has been selected to premiere at the Wild & Scenic Film Festival, which runs from January 11-15, 2018, in Nevada City, California. KILLING GAMES will be featured in the main film festival, and Project Coyote has also been invited to do a separate program about our work. Dan Flores, Project Coyote Ambassador and author of the New York Times best seller, Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History, will join Camilla Fox for that 90-minute program on January 13th.
National: News of USDA Lawsuits Reaches a Young Audience
As previously reported, Project Coyote and its coalition partners have filed a petition against USDA Wildlife Services seeking to ban the use of deadly M-44 “cyanide bombs” in Wyoming after our successful petition led to WS removing M-44s in Idaho. Our coalition also petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency seeking a national ban on M-44s, and petitioned the Agency to cancel registration of the deadly poison Compound 1080. News of those efforts has been published to a young audience with this article in Teen Vogue. We hope our efforts to reform predator management continue to reach young people, who in turn will influence future policy-making.
COYOTE FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES
West Hollywood, CA: City Council Votes for Coexistence
At their October 17 meeting, the West Hollywood City Council voted unanimously to implement a coyote management plan for the City. Project Coyote Southern California representative Randi Feilich testified before the City Council, praising Council members for their proactive approach to living with coyotes and offering Project Coyote‘s support. Project Coyote‘s model plan has been adopted by several Southern California communities including Calabasas and Montebello. We thank all of our Southern California supporters and volunteers who responded to our call to action and showed up to testify.
Gilford, NH: Speaking for Coyotes
New Hampshire and Vermont Representative Chris Schadler attended the local Fish and Game Commissioners’ meeting at the Gunstock Mountain Resort and educated attendees about the importance of coyotes to the ecosystem, how coyote populations stabilize in the absence of hunting pressure, and how hunting generally is an ineffective means of addressing perceived coyote “problems.”
COYOTE FRIENDLY COMMUNITIES and RANCHING WITH WILDLIFE
California: Keli Hendricks Speaks Up for Wildlife
Despite suffering property damage during the recent North Bay wildfires in California, stalwart Ranching with Wildlife Coordinator Keli Hendricks kept up her busy schedule advocating for compassionate coexistence at various forums throughout California. On August 31, Keli presented Living with Wildlife: New and Emerging Research at Hopland REC in Hopland, CA. On September 6, Keli joined San Francisco Animal Care & Control to present information and tips on Living with Coyotes to the Balboa Terrace community. On October 24, Keli appeared with our Marin County Coyote Coalition partners at a well-attended community meeting in Mill Valley, California. (The Coalition also held a forum in Corte Madera/Larkspur on November 29.) Just four days later, on October 28, Keli gave a coexistence presentation at the California Council of Wildlife Rehabilitators’ convention in San Luis Obispo. Finally, Keli did a walk-through assessment for a Mill Valley resident concerned about coyotes in her yard. This visit added a personal touch to Keli’s invaluable grassroots work for wildlife. During all of this, Keli continued her volunteer work helping to rehabilitate and care for injured and orphaned wildlife at the Sonoma Wildlife Rescue Center.
OTHER TEAM NEWS
Project Coyote Founder & Executive Director Camilla Fox was interviewed for two podcasts: Peter Spiegel spoke with Camilla about living with predators in both rural and urban areas for the Animals Today podcast; and Camilla discussed Project Coyote’s efforts to promote coexistence and to protect coyotes and other wildlife from abuse and cruelty as a guest on Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s podcast Food for Thought.
Project Coyote Ambassador Dan Flores’s wildly popular book Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History has been released in paperback! Coyote America is a New York Times bestseller, a Finalist for the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, and Winner of the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award. You can read and listen to this fascinating interview with Dan about the resilience of coyotes.
Project Coyote Science Advisory Board Member John Vucetich’s essay Are Humans and Nature Fundamentally One and the Same? was recently published on the Center for Humans and Nature website. John’s essay reflects on the work of Frederic Clements, James Lovelock, Arne Naess, and the Ojibwe people to show that humans and nonhumans are profoundly interconnected and fundamentally one and the same. As John states, “We might find inspiration in an understanding of the world held by the Ojibwe, native North Americans whose homeland is in the Upper Great Lakes region. They believe the wolf is their brother—not metaphorically, but literally.”
In October, Project Coyote Advisory Board member Gina Farr took a group of Montessori students into the field to learn about coyotes and explore their habitat. The kids put their enthusiasm and newfound knowledge into a peer education project—which included creating a brochure and a poster—that was warmly received by Jane Goodall at her Roots and Shoots Celebration in San Francisco last month.
IN THE NEWS
(December 8, 2017)
Travis County will soon enter into a new era of coyote management. Commissioners decided on Tuesday, Dec. 5, to stop contracting with Texas Wildlife Services, opting instead to use the city of Austin’s Animal Services Office to respond to wildlife issues countywide. Read more…
(November 1, 2017)
The federal agency that controls predators for ranchers and homeowners in 16 Northern California counties agreed Wednesday to do an environmental analysis of the impact of its killing program and implement bans on aerial gunning and several kinds of lethal traps in wilderness areas. Read more…
(November 17, 2017)
The future of the coyotes that roam forests, cities and suburbs from Newfoundland to Virginia could hinge on the animals becoming the “wolves” of the East Coast. And humans better get used to them. Read more…
(October 21, 2017)
Coyote hunts are widespread and popular in Pennsylvania – at least 23 are listed for 2017. The coyotes are shot, weighed and then thrown away, like so much garbage. Read more…
(September 13, 2017)
Conservation groups, aiming to end California’s dwindling fur trade, filed a lawsuit Wednesday that would force state wildlife authorities to raise license fees to levels required by law to cover the full costs of regulating the trapping, killing and skinning of wild animals. Read more…
(September 11, 2017)
Several organizations are joining to sue a government agency that kills millions of animals each year.
The stated goal of the USDA Wildlife Services agency is to “resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist.” Sometimes that involves educating people or scaring birds away from airports. Other times, the agency employs people to kill wildlife, including 2,726,820 animals in 2016. Read more…
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SHOUT-OUT TO OUR VOLUNTEERS!
Project Coyote owes an enormous debt of gratitude to our volunteers, who make our programs possible and keep our mission relevant. By sharing our triumphs and setbacks, you inspire us and give us a reason to continue our work on behalf of our wild neighbors. We would like to extend special thanks this month to Ali Van Zee, Tom Prillo, Erin Hauge, Elisa Ignatius, and Alexa Boesel, for their generosity, positive attitudes, and indomitable spirits.