Editorial: End cruelty of never-ending coyote hunting season

Published: 1/31/2019 12:09:58 AM

There are nights, when the air is still, that their eerie howling can be heard in most parts of the city. Coyotes hunt the woods behind Concord Hospital and the edges of the corn fields in the Broken Ground. They roam the state, and by consuming mice, woodchucks and other rodents do far more good than harm. Nonetheless, in New Hampshire every day and night is open season on the cunning canids.

Count us among those who say it’s time to cut coyotes some slack and ban coyote hunting during the months when, if their mother is killed, her pups would starve. Continuing the hunt between the months of April and September would constitute state-sanctioned cruelty. House Bill 442, which would close the coyote season during those months, deserves to pass.

We also think that, especially in the more populated parts of the state, the era of night hunting for sport should come to an end. Shots in the night these days rarely mean that hounds have treed a raccoon. They are more likely to signal a drug deal gone bad. They disturb the peace.

Coyotes are everywhere, from New York City’s Central Park and downtown Chicago to nearly every American suburb. Hunting them has proven ineffective, or even counterproductive, because coyotes control their own numbers.

In years of plenty, litter sizes increase. In lean times, they shrink. Kill the dominant female in a coyote pack, the only one to reproduce most years, and the other females are freed to have litters of their own. Reduce the coyote population, and litter sizes will increase to fill the vacuum hunting created.

Coyotes are wild animals, potentially, though rarely, dangerous to livestock, pets and even young children. They should be treated with caution and respect, and never fed. They are a part of the ecosystem that’s almost certainly here to stay. Coyotes should not be protected from hunters but neither should their pups be forced to die in their dens for want of the food their mothers provide.

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