As a Wildlife Rehabilitator who has three captive coyotes and deals with coyote issues on a regular basis, I am often the victim of accusations by neighbors. Whenever a coyote is seen or heard in my neighborhood (which is rural), some of my neighbors accuse me of releasing it there! Of course, this is pure speculation on their part and whether they really think this or not or are just posturing or making conversation I am not sure. An interesting note is that these accusations are never made directly to me, I will only hear them second or third-hand. Because of the work that I do with wildlife I am often a target for false accusations. I accept this as a part of the good work that I do with wildlife and people.
I have not released any wildlife of any kind off of my own property in many years. Of course, released wildlife never stays where it is released anyway, often traveling hundreds of miles in search of a territory. My release sites are kept secret to protect the animals in their slow-release pens, but they include thousands of acres where I have exclusive permission to release these animals and have erected pens for this purpose. There are absolutely no human dwellings or domestic animals for many miles. I do this to protect the released animals while they are adjusting to life back in the wild, as well as to protect any domestic animals, poultry or livestock. But, my neighbors will see a wild animal and instantly think that I put it there! They forget that coyotes and foxes are everywhere in New York in healthy numbers and certainly don’t need me to put them there.
Logging is one big reason why coyotes might suddenly seem to be in an area where they previously had been scarce. After many years of studying coyotes, I have consistently found that when a resident or neighbor logs their land, coyotes are guaranteed to proliferate there the following year.Why does this happen? Because suddenly sunlight can reach the forest floor, creating new cover and underbrush for small mammals – the food of coyotes. Tree tops left behind are food and cover for small mammals as well. I guarantee that if you or your neighbor logs, there WILL be coyotes denning there next year and the following year as well. Of course the most vocal neighbors are the ones who either logged or their neighbors logged.
Some neighbors start rumors that “my” coyotes have been killing neighbors dogs and cats. They conveniently forget that owls, cars, other neighbors with guns, and neighbors more aggressive free roaming dogs are the more likely culprits. I am a much easier target. However, as assistant dog control and working closely with the governing authorities in the area, It is interesting that there have been no reports of missing or killed dogs or cats in this area in as long as I have been here. Yet, the stories are perpetuated by the same individuals – usually in a tavern atmosphere where alcohol is involved. It occurs to me that perhaps these people need a hobby of their own and maybe if they had the guts, they could talk to me directly about their concerns.
The fact is, people make up stories and point fingers when they want to be the focus of attention or when they simply don’t have a logical explanation for something. Sometimes people are just being catty because they are jealous or angry about something else. I have learned to accept this as a result of the commitment that I have made toward helping animals. The Federal Government and the State of New York are on my side and they are the recipients of the detailed log of my activities every year. They and the USDA have free access to inspect my property and operation whenever they wish. My neighbors are also welcome to discuss their concerns with me at any time. I will listen and show them anything at any time.