09 December 2010

Coyotes and Greyhounds, is it Dog Fighting?

First, to soften you up, check out The Daily Coyote. Amazing photos of a domesticated coyote. I stumbled across the book about a year ago and very much enjoyed the photos in it.

Now on to the hunt. The NY Times back in April had an article with the following title: Coyote vs. Greyhound: The Battle Lines Are Drawn.

I've always thought Greyhounds looked like emaciated rats. Maybe that is just how they are bred for conformation and racing purposes. Most of the Greyhounds I have met have been rescued and were former racers. I think the ones shown in this article, as well as the mixed breeds, look far healthier and fitter than the ones I am used to.
Shaman and a Greyhound
The Oklahoma gentleman interviewed calls them calm and gentle in addition to being efficient killers. He argues that hunting coyotes is exactly what they were born and bred to do, what they live for. According to the AKC, the Greyhound is an ancient breed seen on Egyptian tombs are far back as 2900 B.C. “It was used on practically all kinds of game from deer, stags, foxes and such, but the hare is the Greyhound’s natural quarry.“ The history of the breed goes further to say they were brought over to the Americas by the Spanish and used to intimidate and punish the Indians. And George Washington is known to have traveled with a large greyhound named Azor during the American Revolution. So at least according to this brief history, it looks like the Greyhound has been quite the versatile hunting dog.

Although coyotes help control rodent populations and are important part of the ecosystem, they are considered a major pest by ranchers whose livestock are killed by them. The article goes on to state that in 2008 the federal Agriculture Department killed nearly 90,000 coyotes in 2008 by the use of traps, aerial gunning and bait filled with poisonous gas.

So if coyotes are pests, why not let them be hunted with dogs? The Chairwoman of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Miranda Wecker thinks this is simply dogs ripping apart other dogs and should be likened to dog fighting rather than hunting. So is this man from Oklahoma more of a George Washington or a Michael Vick character?

The hunter continues with “If you didn't let them run, you would be denying what they were bred to do.” I fully agree with this. However they could hunt other things and not deny them the chase. Watching my two run after a deer, rabbit, or squirrel is a beautiful sight. And they come back with a twinkle in their eyes screaming “Best. Thing. Ever.”

I am torn. Since I was a little kid I always threw dogs in the same group as coyotes, foxes and wolves. So the child in me says this is dog fighting. However, having seen my dogs before, during and after a chase, I understand why this hunter does not see anything wrong with what he is doing.

The article mentions hunters often leave the coyote carcasses behind. If they are an overpopulated pest, I am possibly okay with this, however if I am going to hunt something I want to use what I've killed. I would not go so far as to feed the dogs coyote meat... I have major concerns about that, even though wolves are known to kill and eat coyotes from time to time. I am thinking the pelt could be used for many things, and I'd be willing to try to coyote meat.

I am going to side with the hunter on this one. Although I am 150% against dog fighting as a sport, I would be okay hunting coyotes with my dogs. When I get home I'll ask them if they would like to take a trip to Oklahoma.