Lots in Common
What do coyotes and wild horses have in common in Nevada?
Both make the news more than any other animal or wildlife species in the state. Both suffer from the lack of a successful coexistence strategy with us, and are themselves blamed for that failure. Detractors claim they are non-native invasive species.
Wayne Pacelle, President of Animal Wellness Action, and long-time wildlife and domestic animal advocate has written persuasively about shortcomings of wild horse management by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In his view, one of the biggest mistakes made by the BLM is to manage wild horses as though they are cattle…by using roundups
Different from domestic livestock, wild horses have a well-known genetically determined social structure, i.e., a stable band with a lead stallion, lead mare, non-breeding subadult females, and other social mechanisms allowing wild horses to self-manage within their environment including limiting population growth.
Under preferred conditions, only the lead mare becomes pregnant. Subadult females help raise the foals and maintain band structure. Individual bands tend to repel each other, maintaining distance and motion through their environment.
A partial roundup…. a large incomplete random (non-selective) gathering of horses (often by helicopter) … mindlessly destroys existing band structures and removes other stabilizing influences that the band structure provides.
The predictable result is that fertility rates increase for at least two reasons: subadult females are available to breed; forage conditions for remaining horses improve (so-called compensatory adjustment) enhancing herd fertility.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) currently has no interest, plan, or strategy for dealing with coyotes. The animal is unclassified (without protection) by law, meaning it can be killed anytime by any means in a random unplanned fashion, resembling….in a strange way…. the random, non-selective wild horse roundups by BLM contractors.
Coyotes have a genetic preference for a pack structure. The alpha male and alpha female mate for life. (They are monogamous.) Only the alpha female breeds. Subadult females within the pack help raise pups and serve other duties to keep the pack together. Juveniles leave the pack at a certain point to seek new home ranges and establish their own packs.
When coyotes are randomly and/or intensively killed by trappers, ill-spirited individuals, or management agencies (e.g., USDA/APHIS/Wildlife Services), the pack structure is destroyed. The built-in social constraints limiting sub-adult female fertility are removed and coyote population dynamics change dramatically…(CONTINUED)