Tuesday, December 4, 2007

So cute! But so wrong! But so cute!

I found this blog via Pharyngula - The Daily Coyote, in which a woman is raising an orphaned coyote pup in her home. Peruse through the whole archive - the pup is adorable, and I love her pictures and captions, as well as her remarks about its behavior and interaction with her cat.

However, the more I read the blog the more I cringe. She has taken an orphaned wild pup and is raising it as a trained pet. She has completely humanized it. This action, to begin with, is something that I cannot condone - many wildlife orphans are rehabbed and released every year. It is not right to adopt one as a pet, and is very likely illegal (I am unaware of what protections are in place on canids, although she often talks about coyotes being shot on sight in the area so maybe there are no significant protections).

However, it gets worse. She maintains no illusions that this is a wild animal and will likely need to be released as it matures - see posts here and here. She maintains there are safe places she could let him loose, but there is no place for this animal now. She has doomed it to die if she releases it now. She has trained it to recognize, respond to, and be part of 'the pack' with humans. Even if this animal is still perfectly capable of surviving in the wild on its own, any contact with humans will end in disaster for the animal.

So, enjoy the cute pictures, but remember what these actions to save a cute orphan have done.


  1. I only glanced at her site, but my take was that the pup would have died if she hadn't cared for it. Perhaps she could, with more time and effort, prepare it better for a life in the wild -- but for now it's alive rather than dead. I'm not inclined to condemn her for her actions; the pup is better off than it would have been, whatever the future brings -- and I wouldn't be surprised if it actually did OK.

    Of course, everyone dies at some point. In the future, I'm sure there will be plenty of Wyoming ranchers who'll be only too happy to kill it (certainly fits with my experience on a Montanna ranch).

    Of course, there's always more that one could do, but if one's real concern is coyote preservation, then one should be working to change laws -- and a particular pup wouldn't be a particular point of concern.

  2. I'm not advocating leaving the pup to die, but animals can be rehabbed and released without training or imprinting them on humans.

    I would tend to agree that this pup will lead a 'better' life in captivity, away from trigger-happy ranchers, but this is a dangerous, slippery slope. Should any wildlife found in danger be taken in?

    There are laws and regulations on rehabbing, and I believe this type of action violates the letter and the principle of the law.

    Regarding coyote conservation, I agree with you. Rehabbing and conservation are really separate issues (unless we're talking really critically endangered species!).

  3. She lives "near" (a relative term in WY) a coyote expert employed by the federal government. I would think his expertise and knowledge of the laws would come into play here.

    Also, it probably isn't easy to find a certified coyote rehabber in Wyoming, which would have been the ideal situation.

  4. Two very good points. I wouldn't be surprised if there simply wasn't a rehabber certified for canids in WY.

    Regarding the coyote expert, that just confuses me. Likely the laws out west are very different than here in NY. But I feel the imprinting aspect should still be obvious. I have met a bunch of rehabbers in Western New York, and they all understand that imprinted animals don't get released. The presence of an authority figure in this coyote situation doesn't change that fact.