I’m interrupting my series of posts on my trip to Yellowstone to write about coyotes and the cruelty they suffer at the hands of Wildlife Services and individual trappers.
This week, gruesome photos taken by Jamie Olson, a Wyoming federal wildlife specialist with Wildlife Services, went viral on the web. The pictures show coyotes caught in leg hold traps as Olson’s dogs, one a large Airedale, attack. The photos were never meant to be revealed to the public, Olson said, they were taken to show his dad. Millions have viewed the pictures but Olson still denies any wrongdoing. In yesterday’s Missoula Independent, he is quoted as saying, “I would never have my dogs chew on a coyote.” Olson said of the animals-rights groups up in arms over his actions, “I understand their concerns and I’m sure their agenda is solely driven for their love and desire to keep animals safe. I don’t begrudge anybody that. But they’re really taking that stuff out of context, and it’s affecting my job.”
I’m using my imagination to try to visualize any other context than the obvious in this image of two dogs standing over the body of a trapped coyote. No matter how it is seen, the death of the coyote was needlessly cruel.
Olson had organized a Coyote Classic to be held in Billings, Montana next weekend. Participants were to pay $300 a team to shoot as many coyotes as they can. Olson cancelled the event suddenly, citing an inability to publicize his event due to the election.
A similar Coyote Killing Contest, this one sponsored by Gunhawk Firearms, is to be held in January in Los Lunas, New Mexico. Please like this Facebook page, as they are garnering support to stop this event.
Footloose Montana‘s Facebook page has covered the Olson story and suggests that we support WildEarth Guardians in their efforts to request a congressional investigation of Wildlife Services. The link to their petition is here.
KC York, Footloose Montana Board member, explains that this type of cruelty is “…legal in Montana, killing trapped animals can be done by any means. Olson represents trapping. If this is what a professional does, how can we stop the average trapper? And what goes on out there that we don’t see?”
Predator Defense has been working hard on this issue too. Executive Director Brooks Fahy told me that Olson’s wanton coyote killing is “Symptomatic of Wildlife Services.” The Facebook page of Predator Defense asks that readers, “Join us as we redouble our efforts to ask for Congressional oversight hearings on the USDA’s Wildlife Services agency. Call or write both the chair of the committee involved, Republican Representative Darrell Issa (CA-49), and the ranking committee member, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings (MD-07), and urge them for oversight hearings:
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
U.S. House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington DC 20515
Predator Defense Films has recently produced several educational videos, including three on coyotes. Please enjoy them and share widely. The world needs to see coyotes not as vermin but as the worthy and intricate species they are.