Joe Fleming from the Bonavista Peninsula said he caught an 82-pound coyote and believes it to the biggest ever captured in the province. Memorial University is doing DNA testing though to make sure the big beast is a coyote, and not some other hybrid or another animal.
A biology department professor has a suspicion it’s a ‘wolf-coyote’ hybrid or maybe a ‘dog-coyote’ hybrid.
Even so, coming upon such an animal in the woods during an afternoon of berry picking or strolling along enjoying nature can be pretty daunting. And there are stories like this every couple of months.
The Burin Peninsula is not a stranger to coyote sightings and in fact two hunters have bagged some formidable looking creatures – one a year ago at the Epworth dump and another within the last 18 months in the Garnish-Black River area.
These animals are not native to the island of Newfoundland but since their introduction in the early 80s – some people suggest they crossed from Labrador on the ice floes to the Northern Peninsula – they have made their influence felt all across the island.
Last year the capital region was reporting numerous sightings all around the outskirts of the city.
The problem with coyotes is their breeding pattern. If their numbers start to drop off, then the animals have more babies; if they are plentiful, their breeding numbers decline to protect their food base. They are a resourceful animal.
The coyote is getting bolder all the time, as is evident by the increased sightings and killings.
The department of conservation and wildlife, although it has sponsored a number of information sessions around the island, needs to take a more pro-active approach in trying to control the animal’s presence. What to do, though, that’s a problem?
You could have the province increase the bounty on these animals for hunters but the more you kill or remove from an area, the more young ones are bred. Noise transmitters or introduction of another animal to prey on the coyotes could be possibilities.
Whatever the method instituted to control these animals, it has to be one that is effective in protecting small children and animals (pets) whose only ‘mis-step’ may be playing in their own backyards adjacent to our woodlands. There are many communities in NL like this, including most on the Burin Peninsula.
One thing for sure is the coyotes are not going away on their own, and as long as residents keep infringing on their territory they will come looking for food. A tip – keep your garbage secured.
George Macvicar, Editor/Manager