Thursday, July 14, 2016

Coyote Memorial Placed On NE 41st Street After Recent Shooting On Talaris Property

Neighbors have placed a coyote memorial near Talaris where the June 27th shooting of a  coyote and possibly her pups were killed by the USDA APHIS wildlife services, supposedly initiated by a call from Talaris management.

A representative from the Center for Urban Horticulture wrote:

Coyotes are part  of the urban fabric and at the UW Botanic Gardens’ Center for Urban Horticulture we like having the wildlife on our grounds.  Not only is the Union Bay Natural Area an outdoor laboratory for students, it is also a place where we develop habitat for all types of wildlife including coyotes. 
On Friday Animal Control was called by our staff to have them look at what we thought was a sick coyote.  It turns out that the animal was healthy albeit with some mange.  The mange will probably go away due to the good health of the animal.  Under no circumstances would we ever put down a coyote.  If Animal Control were to determine that the animal was weak they would take it to PAWS for recovery and potential reintroduction.

The community has since sent in may comments including:
Thank you to the person who set up the memoriam. Very touching and nicely done. 
Why live trapping wasn’t pursued is a legitimate question before the coyote was killed.  The solution that was arrived at was pretty barbaric.  A little more humanity could have been shown, considering how poorly the Talaris property is maintained, I would have thought we were better than this. 
It is curious why the coyotes made their den at Talaris.  Years ago, coyotes limited their activities to the wetlands at the corner of Surber and 41st and hunted out on the Union Bay Natural Area.  Now the estuary” has been gentrified, with an official name and a  boardwalk, coming a destination swamp for people not wildlife.   There are roads, giant piles of wood chips and heavy machinery.    
Why didn't the responsible party for the killings notify the neighbors of their plans to shoot the coyotes.  Especially since it was so early in the morning? 
If the pups are still alive, can they be rescued?  Such a sad situation. 
Some underestimate the danger of those aggressive Talaris coyotes. The neighborhood and the children will be safer with them not around anymore.  
Respect their space and research shows they will leave a person alone. 
We have learned that there is a witness who watched a couple of unsupervised kids chasing the coyote up and down 41st along the Talaris fence. This does not impress me for non-involvement between kids and wildlife. 
What can we do to protest? This is absurd. Surely we can find a way to coexist. 
Why didn't someone humanely trap the coyotes and relocate them?  
Nothing was tried to coexist or to deter coyotes. Nor was anyone or pet attacked or injured as far as I know. Besides coyotes being beautiful and fascinating and wild, they serve an enormous function in that they depress the rat and rodent population--very handy in this day and age. 
We heard the coyotes being called, then gunshots, then yelping. We called 911 and the operator told us that they had been notified in advance about shooting that night.  
Thanks to USDA APHIS wildlife services (or helping to eliminate a threat to the safety of small children and pets in our neighborhood.   
It seemed that the coyotes in this area were harassed and provoked leading to them being more confrontational.  The gruesomeness of the murders and the USDA leaving 3 pups to possibly die slowly by starvation without their parents is horrible. As is reported by neighbors, it took three shots to kill one coyotes with clear signs of the coyote trying to escape and a second being shot and left to die slowly in brambles.

Instead of thanking the USDA, help educate the community on how to prevent needless deaths like this. 
By Talaris murdering the the coyote mother and pups, they have helped increase their and the neighborhoods rodent problem. This act is one more indication of what foul, inconsiderate, and hateful neighbors they are.   Coyotes help control rats, mice, and rabbits. They just want to make a living and be left alone.  Here is a recent by the Urban Coyote Research Program showing the coyote's diet, mostly small rodents,  fruit, deer and rabbit.  Roughly 2% of the scat showed human garbage and 1.3% had an indication of domestic cats.  While curious about their environment, they are quite shy about interacting with humans. They will watch from a distance. They don’t like to be harassed by human adults with off-leash dogs or uncontrolled/ignorant human children. Almost all reports of coyotes attacking people have later proven to be false, misidentification of dogs.

Public safety comes first and that is why  the USDA removed the dangerous coyote.  When there are complaints, the coyote’s behavior is graded on a scale, based on a series of warning signs that have been shown to reflect a tendency to bite people. The first level is an increase in daylight sightings, which means an animal is losing its fear of people. The second involves predation on pets. The third involves “coyotes that are willing to go after pets that are attended” — e.g., a dog that its owner is walking on a leash.

The source of the human safety problem are humans themselves who were willfully encountering and harassing the coyote. Kids were chasing the coyotes up and down the Talaris property. And joggers were also on the private property with their dogs off leash, also illegal.  There were also reports of people seeking out dens trying to find pups.

If there was a problem it was caused by the very ignorant, selfish, arrogant people who then had the hubris to kill a family that was just trying to make living.

This was in the Seattle Times recently where Chris Anderson, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife said "Learn to embrace the quiet canines.   They control a lot of our rat population,' he said. 'Coyotes aren’t ever going away."

Here are some interesting links neighbors sent in:
Coyotes have adapted to the streets of L.A., and biologists want to know how

USDA fact sheet

And here is a letter from Larry Hubbell, who published the Union Bay Watch addressing the killing saying "if you agree or disagree with my perspective please feel free to inform Director Smith of your opinion.       

Terry L. Smith (
Washington State Director of Wildlife Services
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
United States Department of Agriculture

Dear Director Smith,

I was extremely disappointed to learn that three coyotes were killed last week, near Union Bay, in the Laurelhurst neighborhood of Seattle. Historically, humanity's fear and ignorance of wild creatures has often led to killing and extermination. My fear is, if we do not learn to coexist with wild creatures then future generations will live in a dismal world of crows, concrete and mechanical contraptions. 

My personal goal is to promote harmony between nature and humanity, specifically around Union Bay which includes the Laurelhurst area. My blog about nature-in-the-city is called, Union Bay Watch. I believe that if we pay attention to wildlife, and treat wild creatures intelligently, we can find ways to coexist. 

A few weeks ago, I met one of the adult coyotes on the trail in the Union Bay Natural Area. Given the time of the year and because the coyote was out and about at mid-day, I suspect it was looking for food for its young. The coyote turned and fled into the brush as I approached. A perfectly acceptable response from a truly wild creature.

Because of my blog and my local interactions, I have talked with many different people who have seen the coyotes. No one who I spoke with mentioned any aggressive behavior. I truly believe the majority of the local people have been excited and happy to have coyotes as neighbors. I hope we can all agree that killing wild creatures should be a last resort.

The information I have read and the reaction from the neighbors causes me to seriously question whether extermination was warranted. The only justification I can find for the killing is, as reported on King5 News"Wildlife services received a request to assist in the management of several coyotes near the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Seattle. The coyotes had become increasingly aggressive towards people and pets in the area."

This statement leaves a lot to the imagination. I admit I do not know the details. I can however make a couple of logical assumptions given the information provided.

a) Since no injuries to humans were reported, I suspect the coyotes did not injure anyone.

b) Since no injuries to pets were noted, I suspect the coyotes did not injure any pets, either.

If the coyotes did not injure any humans or their pets then I wonder, What exactly did they do? What does "increasingly aggressive" really mean? 

Does it mean that in the Spring, with young to feed, the coyotes were being seen more often during the day, because their normal nocturnal hunting was not sufficient? Does it mean that the coyotes chased someone's cat up a tree? Does it mean that they growled at an off-leash dog that came near their den? Does it mean that the coyotes came into to someone's yard because the owner left pet food or open garbage outside? All of these fictional examples could be resolved with human education. It makes me wonder if the actual situation could have also been resolved with community guidance and instruction.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife provides an extensive online resource entitled, Living with Wildlife. The highlighted link goes directly to the specific portion of the site related to coyotes. The site lists many non-lethal options.

Our Canadian friends propose a simple three-step process for learning to deal with coyotes. The Stanley Park Ecological Society says, "1) Be Big, Brave and Loud. 2) Never Feed. 3) Spread the Word." They have additional links and information on their site, Co-existing with Coyotes. Please note that they even have an educational program for K-7 students. If our northern neighbors can teach their kindergarten students how to safely encounter coyotes I suspect we should be able to do the same. 

Was education given a fair chance? I have read nothing which implies that the folks in Laurelhurst were provided instruction on how to co-exist with coyotes. The next time your organization is contacted to resolved an issue with coyotes, I sincerely hope you will ensure that the community as a whole gets to participate in the process and that the educational alternatives are fully exhausted.

coyote on 38th Avenue NE next to Talaris
(photo taken at the end of May)

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