TNR Programs, Domestic Cats, Dogs, and Humans Imperiled by Wildlife Proponents' Use and Abuse of Coyotes and Fishers
-- University of Rhode Island wildlife professor Thomas B. Husband's gleeful response to a report that fishers had savagely attacked two dogs.
Cats, dogs, and even humans are being attacked all over the country by coyotes and fishers either reintroduced into urban and suburban areas or allowed to proliferate there by wildlife proponents. Already hundreds if not indeed thousands of cats have been killed as unscrupulous public officials and academic frauds are allowed to pursue an agenda that is all their own and at the public's expense.
Bearing the heaviest brunt of the carnage are feral cats, although domestic cats are no longer safe even in their own yards and houses. In 2004, for instance, a domestic cat was plucked from inside an open window in Rutland, Vermont and killed by a fisher.
Trap, Neuter, and Return (TNR) programs, already under assault from bird advocates, PETA, and ailurophobes of all shapes and sizes, are especially vulnerable. In spite of this, Alley Cat Allies and other supporters of TNR have chosen to turn a deaf ear to this perilous situation even though they know better than anyone else that TNR programs cannot coexist alongside such proficient feline predators as coyotes and fishers.
"In San Francisco you have people who go out and feed feral cats living in the park. That is one of the absolute worst things you can do," Don Richardson of the California Department of Fish and Game told the San Francisco Chronicle on July 22nd. (See "Coyotes Commonly Under Foot in Cities.") "To a coyote, they end up having a huge population of feral cats to eat. And if they don't catch the cats, they can go and eat the food people leave for the cats."
Richardson rather conveniently neglects to mention that it is precisely individuals feeding coyotes that is causing a considerable amount of the problems. In fact, in Baghdad by the Bay's Golden Gate Park it was Richardson's agency that ordered two coyotes to be shot and killed on July 15th after they had attacked two large dogs as they were being walked on leashes by their owners. (See photo above of a coyote in Golden Gate Park in May of 2006.)
It is thought that the coyotes became violent as the result of an unidentified man feeding them raw meat every day out of the back of a van. (See San Francisco Chronicle, July 26, 2007, "Coyotes in Park Dog Attack Had Been Fed by Humans.") Other residents have admitted publicly to feeding the animals hot dogs.
In addition to becoming habituated to viewing humans and their cats and dogs as sources of food, coyotes are territorial. This has been cited as another reason why several dog-walkers in Golden Gate Park have been stalked by coyotes.
Nor is it merely cats and dogs that are at risk. According to the University of California's Hopland Research and Extension Center, coyotes attacked forty-eight children and adults in California between 1998 and 2003. That was a significant increase over the forty-one incidences reported between 1988 and 1997.
In addition to attacking dogs on leashes, they have invaded yards and attacked dogs and children. A woman was even bitten by one in a motel parking lot in South Lake Tahoe and a man reported having his poodle ripped from his arms by a coyote.
Whereas some wildlife biologists postulate that coyotes attack dogs because they view them as competitors for food rather than as sustenance per se, coyotes apparently have developed a taste for cats. According to Brian Murphy, a coyote enthusiast from Walnut Creek, coyotes have eliminated the feral cat colonies in the East Bay and have now begun attacking domestic cats in their yards. He, as one would expect, sees this as a good thing. (See Contra Costa Times, July 18, 2007, Gary Bogue's column, "Easy Meals Bring Coyotes to Urban Areas, Open Spaces.") This is no doubt happening to feral cat colonies elsewhere.
For Murphy, Richardson, and other wildlife proponents to single out feral cats as the sole reason coyotes have migrated to the cities is ludicrous. First of all, they have been pushed out of their rural habitats by developers, farmers, ranchers, hunters, and wildlife advocates.
For instance, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service exterminates close to one-hundred-thousand coyotes every year at the request of farmers and ranchers. With the cooperation of state wildlife officials, it also arranges for hunters to blow away thousands more of the animals. (See Cat Defender post of September 5, 2005 entitled "United States Government Exterminates Millions of Wild Animals at the Behest of Capitalists.")
In addition to people feeding them, cities are chock-full of garbage which in turn attracts rodents. Bird feeders are another lure. Clearly, coyotes get more nutrition from handouts, garbage, mice, and bird feeders than they do from eating cats and dogs.
In the Windy City, which is estimated to be home to around one-thousand of North and Central America's estimated ten-million coyotes, Animal Control has adopted a sensible policy of humanely trapping and relocating the animals to the countryside. "We're trying to do the ethnically correct thing with these coyotes," director Anne Kent to the Chicago Tribune on July 27th. (See "Coyotes One, Chicago 0, Experts Say.")
"I just want to make sure we are protecting the public from any incidences," she added. "It is also to protect the animal from anyone trying to feed it or chase it down or corner it so it attacks."
Wildlife ecology professor Martin Main of the University of Florida vociferously disagrees. "I think it is kind of silly," he told the Tribune. "You kill one coyote and another coyote will move into that neighborhood guaranteed. That's really a waste of time and money."
Why then is it that Main and other wildlife advocates are so eager to pimp and whore for ranchers, farmers, developers, and hunters? Why is it that they restrict their philosophy to urban settings? To put it succinctly, wildlife proponents are advocating that coyotes have an absolute right to live in cities where they kill cats and dogs and attack people but au contraire they have absolutely no right whatsoever to live in the countryside where they belong if they ever so slightly impinge upon entrenched financial interests.
The revolutionary scope of that proposed coup d'etat in not only wildlife management but domestic relations as well is startling to say the least. It does, however, have the advantage of being a win-win proposition for wildlife proponents in that it allows them to fatten their coffers by selling coyotes and other wild animals down the river to commercial interests while simultaneously providing them with a cover in order to kill cats and dogs with impunity.
Thomas B. Husband, a wildlife professor at the University of Rhode Island inadvertently gave the game away in an August 4th interview with The Providence Journal when he gleefully exclaimed "That's neat" in response to a report that two dogs in West Greenwich had been savagely attacked by fishers. (See photo above.) His exuberance is on a par with that of the New Jersey Audubon Society which repeatedly has praised the "excellent job" that coyotes are doing by killing cats on Higbee Beach in Cape May.
It is perfectly clear that Husband and his colleagues do not have a scintilla of regard for cats, dogs, or the sentiments of their owners. It would be interesting to know, however, if he would consider it "neat" for a fisher to maul to death a toddler?
Hunted almost to extinction during the nineteenth century for their valuable pelts, the reintroduction of Martes pennanti to the northeast began during the 1960s when wildlife officials transplanted one-hundred of the weasel-like animals from Maine to Vermont. (See photo above.) By the 1970s they had migrated into Massachusetts and in the year 2000 they were transplanted by wildlife officials to Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
So, whenever it suits their purposes wildlife officials are clearly willing to trap and uproot all sorts of animals. They also kill a lot of them through their tagging initiatives. (See Cat Defender post of April 17, 2006 entitled "Hal the Central Park Coyote Is Suffocated to Death by Wildlife Biologists Attempting to Tag Him.")
Today, fishers are found all the way from Maine to southern New Jersey and in their wake they have slaughtered hundreds of feral and domestic cats. (See Cat Defender post of July 19, 2007 entitled "Up to Their Old Tricks, Wildlife Officials Reintroduce Fishers to the Northeast to Prey Upon Cats and to Provide Income for Fur Traffickers.") Lately, they have started to attack large dogs and a rabid fisher even assaulted a woman in Schenectady County, New York this past winter.
In West Greenwich, a fisher bit Robert Beaudry's eighty-pound Alsatian, Holly, in the jaw back in July. (See photo below.) Because of the intransigence of state wildlife officials, Beaudry was forced to trap the attacker himself although they did later take custody of the animal. They have been equivocal, however, as to what they did with it.
Beaudry's neighbor, Darlene DiRocco, is forced to carry a baseball bat with her whenever she walks her Golden Retriever, Banks, after her dog was attacked by a fisher last month. "If it gets on my dog's back, I think I would whack it off," she told The Providence Journal in the article cited supra. "I don't think I would kill it, but it would hurt it."
Cat and dog owners must come to the aid of their beloved companions but they should be mindful that fishers are not to be trifled with under any circumstances. Dave Wydell, a resident of the Boston suburb of Arlington, found out firsthand just how vicious these animals can be when his cat was assaulted by one of them.
"One of the things raccoons do when you chase them away is that they just keep running," he told the Boston Herald on July 26th. (See "Fishers in Arlington? What a Scream.") "This thing stopped about midway down the steps and turned around like it was going to come at me. It was definitely mean. I think I would have lost my cat in another ten to fifteen seconds."
Arlington animal control officer Tom Quintal concurs. "They're probably the most elusive of any wild animal and they're also the most deadly when it comes to your pet."
Fishers were ostensibly reintroduced to the northeast in order to prey upon porcupines and to provide income for fur trappers. At $70 apiece, their pelts are six times more valuable than those belonging to mink.
Last year in Rhode Island alone eighty-three fishers were killed for their fur as opposed to forty-eight during the previous year. Slaughtering fishers in order to supply the European market for fur coats is clearly a booming business and wildlife officials are only too happy to assist in the carnage.
In the upstate New York community of Wilton, resident Alan Woodard estimates that more than one-hundred cats have been killed by fishers and coyotes during the past few years. He has lost three cats himself.
Speaking of the brutal murder of his five-year-old male cat, Puddles, back in June, he told The Saratogian on July 27th, "It was very traumatic. I still have nightmares about it." (See "Cat-Eating Weasels Plague Wilton.")
Rather than crying all day in his beer, Woodard has been canvassing the city for data on missing cats which he will later present to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation in the hope of securing a permit to trap and remove the predators.
His case is weakened by the fact that the neighborhoods which have lost the most cats, Lake Elizabeth Estates and Mulberry Estates, are developments. In addition to fishers and coyotes, the area around Wilton is home to mountain lions, moose, and wolves. In this instance, it is humans who have wrongfully invaded and destroyed the habitat of wild animals.
In conclusion, the grand scheme hatched by wildlife proponents to use fishers and coyotes to kill cats and dogs is not going to be tolerated. Wildlife and bird advocates do not want to admit it but companion animals occupy a special place in this society and their health and well-being trumps that of wildlife.
There are an estimated sixty-million cat owners and an equal number of dog owners in the United States who spend a combined $41 billion per year on their companions. If wildlife officials think that these dedicated animal lovers are going to sit idly by while their cats and dogs are picked off one by one by fishers and coyotes their runaway egotism and hubris must have addled their brains.
Most cats and dogs are treated as family members. In fact, some owners are closer to their cats and dogs than they are to their spouses and children. Companion animals also enjoy certain protections under the law that are denied to wild animals. For instance, anti-cruelty statutes protect them from abuse and some of them, such as Leona Helmsley's Maltese, Trouble, are handsomely provided for in their owners' wills.
There is also such a thing as private property in this country and homeowners are not going to allow wild animals to trespass into their yards for the purpose of preying upon their cats, dogs, and children. No one but egomaniacal wildlife proponents -- and, of course, bird lovers -- would have the chutzpah to propose such idiocy.
If cities, such as San Francisco, want to provide a safe haven for coyotes in their parks they should fence off and close these areas to the public. Wildlife officials know better than anyone else that living in close proximity to humans irrevocably changes the dynamic that exists in nature between humans and wild animals.
More importantly, wild animals need habitats that are protected from developers, commercial interests, and hunters. Unfortunately, it is precisely these interests that wildlife proponents spend the vast majority of their time serving instead of the animals that they are sworn to protect.
The cavalier disdain that wildlife proponents, both bureaucrats and academics, exhibit toward cat and dog owners is all the more appalling because it is precisely these individuals and other citizens who pay their inflated salaries. The despicable conduct of these glorified welfare bums is symptomatic of a tyrannical public sector that at all levels pursues agendas that are inimical to the interests of the vast majority of people.
Photos: Jim Herd for the San Francisco Chronicle (coyote), University of Rhode Island (Husband), Merrily Lunsford of the Cape Cod Times (fisher), and Ruben W. Perez of The Providence Journal (Beaudry and Holly).