Following the announcement by the government of Nova Scotia to introduce a pelt incentive scheme to encourage the trapping of coyotes, a number of concerned citizens formed around a Facebook group Stop the Nova Scotia Coyote Cull with the aim to lobby against this cull. Nova Scotians for People and Wildlife formed to enable a more formal organization to evolve and an improved web presence.

POSITION STATEMENT - Nova Scotians for People and Wildlife - June 2010

On April 22, 2010, Nova Scotia's Department of Natural Resources announced a four-part program to reduce aggressive coyote behaviour and make communities safer.[1] A Facebook group "Stop the Nova Scotia Coyote Cull" was formed to oppose the culling of coyotes [2], which in turn led to the formation of "Nova Scotians for People and Wildlife" (NSPAW) [3].

Nova Scotians for People and Wildlife
is an advocacy group that believes that the current dilemma regarding coyotes is a misunderstood issue and that purposeful, random and inhumane killing of animals is an unacceptable solution. It is this group's stance that this problem is as much about human behaviour as it is about coyote behaviour.

1. NSPAW supports the research and public education elements of the plan proposed by the Department of Natural Resources. These parts of the program need to be comprehensively implemented in order to effectively result in widespread public awareness, acceptance and community empowerment. NSPAW accepts the humane trapping of nuisance coyotes that pose an immediate public risk, but would like to see guidelines made public as to the circumstances that would justify this. NSPAW opposes the pelt incentive initiative that seeks to randomly target coyotes that pose no immediate risk to humans or livestock.

2. With the exception of Taylor Mitchell's death, many other jurisdictions have seen similar increases in coyote incidents in the past, yet they have responded with more moderate, effective, and ethical plans to address the situation. These typically involve the whole community in creating an environment that does not encourage coyotes to come into conflict with humans, and actively discouraging through hazing those animals that do come to close. Hazing can be carried out at a low level by citizens, and by trained staff when more aggressive means become necessary.[4][8] Nova Scotia's proposed solution will randomly capture coyotes in leg-hold traps to be held for undetermined periods of time until they are shot and collected. NSPAW, established animal welfare organizations [5] and many individual citizens[2] view this to be inhumane, which suggests that the government should consider alternative measures to address this issue. The current plan tarnishes the public image of Nova Scotia.

3. We see this more as an issue of how humans interact with coyotes, and not vice versa. There are many preventative measures that are effective to discourage coyotes from habituating to humans and human habitats without resorting to killing.

4. The call for a cull and establishment of a bounty is contrary to much research and evidence that such methods are ineffective and counterproductive.[6] Proper risk analysis, current science and expert opinions should be the cornerstone of such programs. Science shows that removing individual coyotes from the population can cause packs to split up and seek new territories, to create more breeding females, and to increase the number of young and inexperienced animals that are recruited into the adult population.[6] Thus any attempt at population control of coyotes is only going to have short term effects. During this period we may once again become complacent about coyotes, putting us at risk once again when the population rebounds in a few years time. We believe that an objective long term plan which should include considerable public education is an integral part for successful management, and should not be ignored for political expediency.

5. The Department of Natural Resources is to be commended for what it has done so far in implementing the Natural Resources Strategy 2010 process. It has demonstrated integrity by recognizing the value of citizen and stakeholder engagement and creating a vehicle for input from citizens and external expertise to inform policy. It acknowledges that Nova Scotians want the Department of Natural Resources to use the best available information that incorporates science, economics, citizen values, and community knowledge when making resource-management decisions, and that they need and want to be kept informed so they can better contribute to the decision-making process.[7] The way in which the Plan to Reduce Aggressive Coyote Behavior was formulated seems to contradict these findings.

1. Province announces Plan to Reduce Aggressive Coyote Behavior
2. Stop the Nova Scotia Coyote Cull
3. Nova Scotians for People and Wildlife
4. "Coyote Management Plan" Denver Parks & Recreation, October 2009.
5. Nova Scotia SPCA position statement on hunting.
6. "Eastern Coyote: the Story of Its Success", Gerry Parker 1995
7. Natural Resources Strategy 2010
8. "Being Coyote Wise". Video by Colorado Division of Wildlife.