I FOUND Alex Beam’s essay “They shoot coyotes, don’t they?’’ to be thoroughly offensive (G section, Jan. 10). Coyotes are the most adaptable mammal in North America, and typically survive their encounters with humans who attempt to control them using incredibly brutal methods.
I’ve studied coyotes for more than 35 years and have discovered that talking about “the’’ coyote is misleading. For example, in some areas coyotes live alone, in others they live with their mates, while in others they live in groups that resemble wolf packs, extended families of different generations.
Killing coyotes does not work, and never has. When a space opens where a coyote had lived, another individual moves in. And it is ethically indefensible to wantonly go out and kill coyotes because they try to live among us arrogant, big-brained, invasive mammals who have redecorated their homes and then conveniently decided that they have become pests when we don’t want them around any longer.
Wanton killing doesn’t work because little or no attention is paid to the versatile behavior of these adaptable predators. Coyotes are intelligent, socially complex, and sentient beings who deserve respect. They offer valuable lessons in survival. They’re hapless victims of their own success, and we must learn to coexist with them, not kill them.
The writer is professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at University of Colorado, Boulder, and a board member of Project Coyote.