Thursday, January 20, 2011

155. Coyote Fur is Flying in Antigonish County


The article below from Nova Scotia's The Chronicle Herald, exemplifies how hate mongering against wild animals is perpetuated in the press to justify mass slaughter of them, often for commercial interests.  It is also an example of anthropocentric ideology that governs human society worldwide. Unless we overcome this ideology no lasting progress towards harmony with the rest of nature is possible.


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By Bill Spurr, The Chronicle Herald, January 14, 2011

As lawn ornaments go, there’s no disputing the eye-catching value of a trio of skinned coyote carcasses.

If coyote snaring were a professional sport, Charlie Landry of Pomquet Point, Antigonish County, would be one of its stars.

Apart from the slightly off-putting display of bodies, his backyard is also strewn with live traps and other tools of the trade for a "nuisance wildlife operator," and when he opens the door to the biggest of three sheds, you’d better watch your step.

On the floor of the ripe-smelling building are a dozen or so freshly killed coyotes, along with a couple of raccoons, a fox and a beaver.

"There’s a freezer that’s full, there’s another freezer in the other shed that’s full of animals that are all skinned, and now they’ve got to be processed, scraped and dried," said Landry, who delivers most of the carcasses to a biology professor at St. Francis Xavier University who feeds them to eagles.

Landry has killed about 60 coyotes this season, and pelts pay three ways: $20 apiece for the provincial bounty, a negotiated fee for each one with a fur company, and as prize winners at a local hunting and fishing store.

Last year, Dan Kulanek, the owner of Leaves and Limbs Sports outside Antigonish, had an idea. He’d organize a pool for his customers, with all the money in the pot going to whoever shot or snared the biggest coyote.

The Great Coyote Shootout was such a success that Kulanek brought it back this year, with a few tweaks.

"It’s $10 to enter, and as soon as you enter, you get a ballot which entitles you to the door prizes, including a new rifle, a deer call, boxes of ammunition," Kulanek said.

"Once you bring in a coyote, you’re put in a separate draw for the cash, because all the money we take in in tickets, we’re going to give it all back out, every bit of it."

By the middle of this week, the pool amounted to $2,630 and not a day goes by that Kulanek’s parking lot doesn’t get a visit by at least one pickup with a dead coyote in the back.

"A lot of guys are pissed off — there’s no deer, there’s no rabbits," Kulanek said.

"Guys are coming in and telling me they’re following deer tracks and right behind the deer tracks are coyote tracks. I couldn’t say for sure coyotes are at fault, but they’re getting the blame for it.

"I don’t want to kill every coyote in the country either, but if you ever hear a deer get caught by a coyote — horrid. They start chewing at the back and the deer’s alive the whole time they’re . . . chewing and chewing. And people say, save the coyote?"

One of Kulanek’s customers has already earned 34 entries in the ballot box and expects to get at least 40 more before the contest closes at the end of March. About half the competitors are shooting coyotes and half are snaring them.

Brian Newell of New Glasgow was making a delivery to Kulanek’s store earlier this week and said a friend had served him coyote pepperoni over Christmas.

"The meat was right white, like pork," Newell said. "It tasted fine."
With 50 years of trapping and snaring experience, and from what Landry sees and smells when he dismembers them, he wouldn’t eat any coyote meat.

"When I started getting coyotes in the ’80s and ’90s, you’d skin a coyote and after it was done you’d clean around the ears and that was the only place there was fat. The last couple of years, they’re just loaded with fat.

"I had some with almost an inch of fat on ’em," said Landry, who thinks coyotes are eating the leftover scraps of butchered cows and chickens that have eaten feed loaded with hormones. "That’s why I’d . . . leave that pepperoni there. I wouldn’t touch it."

It takes him about half an hour to skin a coyote and turn the pelt inside out to dry for a day or two. He then turns it right side out to let the fur dry, and then it’s ready for market.

"I sell to North Bay, the fur company, and they come and pick the furs up two or three times a year," he said. "Then they go to auctions in Montreal or Toronto, and all the different countries’ buyers are there. One country might want coyote, another’s going to go for otter, or bobcat, or fox.

"I got up to $65 for one, I got as low as $2. It’s based on the quantity of the fur; it’s based on the market."

Landry is good enough at what he does that he’s trapped as many as 180 skunks in one summer around Antigonish and trapped 260 raccoons in a year. These days, there’s nothing easier to find than coyotes, including the 25 he’s snared inside the fenced NuStar terminal at Point Tupper.

He’s also snaring them on the outskirts of Antigonish, just behind the hospital.

"They’re really aggressive. One evening a month, month and a half ago, the nurses that work there went to work for the night shift. And when they got (to) . . . the main entrance, there was three coyotes, right in front of the main entrance."

When one of the nurses tried to enter the hospital "one of the coyotes turned and made right for her. She ran back to the car, and they couldn’t go to work."

It was suggested that the woman must have been crazy to get out of the car.

"Yup," said Landry, who was joined in his shed about then by his next door neighbour Lawrence Hudson, who also has decades of experience in the woods and is concerned by how common, and how aggressive, coyotes have become in Nova Scotia.

"You go in the woods, and there’s four or five of them in a pack? You better have a gun in your hand," said Hudson, who related the story of a friend who had a close call recently.

"He saw this big buck, so he started following it. He got in the woods . . . and there was six coyotes all around and they started coming for him. He dropped a couple of them, then they took off."

Landry, who was stalked by four coyotes while he walked on a nearby frozen lake last year, managed to scare them off by using a snowshoe as a club.

"I didn’t have a gun but I had my snowshoes," he said. "The biggest one was showing his teeth at me. Then the others started to circle around, and I figured there was only one chance so I grabbed the showshoes and I hollered and I made for them, and the first step I made toward them, the three small ones just went. The other stayed 30 or 40 seconds and then went into the woods. Now, if I had ran, I wouldn’t be here to tell the tale."

Landry thinks green bins full of compost are luring coyotes into residential areas and that ready sources of food make them so big. He worries that the coyote population hasn’t peaked, since a farmer in Heatherton killed a pregnant female and cut it open to find 14 pups inside.

"The western coyote, what they call the regular coyote, a big male will go 30 pounds. Maybe. Twenty to 25 pounds is the average. Here, I got one that was 72 pounds. They’re part wolf, that’s the reason. Your smaller coyotes, they hunt mostly by themselves, like a fox. Here, these coyotes are running in packs, same as a wolf."

Landry says there’s no reason to think Antigonish County has more coyotes than any other part of the province, and he often gets calls from homeowners asking him to thin out the coyote population near their residence — jobs he has to turn down because he’s already too busy.

"There’s thousands of ’em," he said. "Tens of thousands, I would say."

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