Monday, April 26, 2010

Greyhounds Hunting Coyote

There was an article in Sunday's New York Times about a "sport" in Oklahoma of using greyhounds to hunt and kill coyotes. This was one I'd never heard of before. I'm well aware that ranchers hate coyotes for their predation of livestock. Coyotes have proven highly adaptable to changing circumstances, and dwell everywhere from countryside to city. But they are accepted hardly anywhere. I receive New York versions of the main tv networks, and there was near-hysteria not long ago because a coyote was spotted frequently in some NYC park (I think it was smaller than Central Park, and thus the coyote was turning up on the streets from time to time).

We live with coyotes here on the Olympic Peninsula. I see them fairly often. In fact, I've named one "Gorgeous" because he or she has the most luxuriant coat I've ever seen on a wild canid. I keep chickens, sheep, and llamas, and yes, I've had my share of losses. The first flock of chickens, which I was allowing to free-range during the day, was mostly killed, but the perpetrators were raccoons. We lost two sheep in the past two years, but because they utterly disappeared without a trace -- something a coyote or even a pack of coyotes simply could not accomplish -- I put that down to either cougar or aliens. (I mean, even cougar should leave a trace of blood or a footprint or something!)

I know people around here who hate coyotes because they prey regularly on house cats. Well, if you want to keep your cats safe, then keep them indoors. I know that our feral pack is at risk, but at least I've given them a shed they can access through a cat hole, and our open hay shed, where they can hide among the bales.

But to get back to the greyhound/coyote hunting. It is described as "a regional pursuit that is part of the area's lore, like the cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail." Doesn't that make it sound pretty?

One of the perpetrators of this "sport" states "This is exactly what they're born and bred to do," referring to the Greyhounds. But further on, the article notes that shock collars are used to train the dogs to pursue only coyotes. Otherwise, they would be running after rabbits or antelope or deer, which are actually more their historic target.

The article also notes that the barbed wire fences common to the area tend to tear up the Greyhounds' thin skin, and of course, the coyotes put up a fight for their lives when cornered. So the Greyhounds are injured or killed regularly.

I'm happy to read that this practice is banned in Washington state, by the Fish and Wildlife Commission. Their reasoning was that canines killing other canines was too close to dogfighting, a felony in all 50 states. But apparently, Oklahoma does not subscribe to that view.

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