(Since the Oregonian eventually archives its online stories, I scanned the piece by Jacques Von Lunen so it will be permanently available.)
Download Oregonian coyote story 4-28-09
Coyotes are part of nature's balance. Von Lunen says they weren't in western Oregon until wolves were eradicated and clear-cutting of forests enabled them to cross the Cascades.
Laurel and I wish we had more of them here in semi-rural south Salem. Ground squirrels are a problem for us. Coyotes aren't. As the story says:
Urban legends about coyotes abound. We've heard neighbors say, "I'm worried they'll kill a small child."
Actually, points out Von Lunen, there's only one recorded case of a coyote killing a human in U.S. history. And that was after a family continuously fed a coyote, causing it to be unafraid of humans. It then attacked a 3-year old child.
Don't leave food out for coyotes, and they are much less likely to come around. This is rule #1 for dealing with them.
Another rule is: don't kill them. This just leads to more coyotes.
Being animal lovers, we can understand why people worry about their pet cats and small dogs in coyote territory. But keeping cats indoors (especially at night) and not letting your chihuahua roam on its own will go a long way toward keeping pets safe.
Our coyote-hating neighbors are fond of feral cats, feeding and taking care of them. That's nice. But feral cats aren't part of the natural Oregon ecosystem, whereas coyotes are.
Cats decimate the wild songbird population, as evidenced by how much they hang around our bird feeders. Coyotes control rodent pests.
Give me a coyote over a feral cat anytime. The Oregonian story concludes with: