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"City" coyotes, versus "rural" cougars & coyotes

by Joel Kretz

We’ve discussed in recent weeks the different responses by the WDFW to citizens complaints as opposed to say, governor complaints. While the differences are graphic to say the least, recent evidence suggests that the differences may be regional as well. A complaint in, say, Republic of a cougar watching children play in the schoolyard, all to often is regarded as unimportant, followed by the suggestion that it’s probably our fault for encroaching on the cougars habitat.

But when wildlife gets frisky in Bellevue it’s a completely different matter. A 18 month old child was bitten on the ear on his school playground by a coyote and a 4 year old bitten on the buttocks in his yard. The real clincher was the coyote attack on a toy poodle on the end of a leash. All it takes is a little bad publicity in the suburbs and we see just how tough the WDFW can get, and the key words there are “publicity” and “suburbs.” After summoning the Feds for backup, the WDFW went to work, pouring heavily armed wildlife agents with leg hold traps into the battle zone. The coyotes never had a chance, one was trapped and another shot at 6:30 in the morning by a wildlife officer on patrol. According to the Dept. this response is standard operating procedure and stated in one of their numerous press releases that “we have to make every effort to remove any dangerous wild animal that has clearly lost its fear of humans.”

Really? I could name several rural citizens who received very different responses from the Dept.. In fact, based on the typical rural experience, I’ve got to ask a few questions, like; why weren’t the coyotes relocated somewhere else, like maybe a farm? Why no comments along the lines of “people in Bellevue are moving into coyote territory and deserve what they get.” No one said “if you’re dumb enough to raise children and poodles in coyote territory you’re just asking for it.”

Now contrast this “get tough on Bellevue Coyotes” stance to the Eastern Washington rancher losing dozens of baby calves to coyotes while the Dept. wrings their hands and worries about bad publicity if they act. Oh, but I forgot, those weren’t the dreaded “Bellevue Coyotes.”

Copyright Joel Kretz 2006


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