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After you read this, you’re going to wish you had half the pluck and stamina of a coyote. They’re the ultimate survivors!

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(iStock)

If there were ever a universal nuisance animal it would be the coyote.

Often linked in the popular imagination to the West and ranchers, coyotes are truly everywhere. State game agencies don’t even bother to monitor them – it’s open season year round. The International Union for Conservation of Nature – the folks who defend wildlife! – have them labeled of “least concern” among species.

              In Nevada and many other states, no hunting license is required to go after them. If you see one, it’s fair game. As Game & Fish put it, “varmint” is a more apt description for the coyote. Some state game officials estimate that 70 percent of the coyote population in the United States is killed every year.

And despite all this, their numbers are actually heading up!

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             “This is anecdotal because we don’t do any surveys, but in the last 30 years with fewer and fewer people living in a rural type of setting, they have less reason to shoot coyotes,” Nevada Department of Wildlife furbearer biologist Russell Woolstenhulme told Game and Fish. “Coyote numbers have increased. I see coyotes on a nearly daily basis, and I live in Reno.”

In fact, they are growing so fast that they are being blamed for declining deer populations in Ohio and other Midwestern and Eastern states.

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The winter months are prime coyote hunting season. Indiana hosts a coyote hunting tournament – The Coyote Showdown – in an effort to harvest the rapidly growing population.

Many of the hunters seem to nurse a special hatred for coyotes. The Showdown’s organizer, Erik Fannin, told Fox News that his dog, Maggie, was attacked by coyotes last month.

“She was outside for about 15 minutes and then went to call her back in and she was laying on the front porch full of blood,” Fannin said.

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All this hate for the coyote is sparking a backlash in some quarters.

Annoyed by coverage of a coyote hunt called the Eastern U.S. Predator Calling Championship in Virginia, environmentalist and Michigan State University professor Rupert Cutler wrote the Roanoke Times to defend the animal he called “America’s song dog.”

“Predators including coyotes and foxes are an essential component of healthy ecosystems and help keep ecosystems in balance,” Cutler wrote. “Killing them only throws ecosystems out of kilter. Coyotes’ main diet consists of mice, rabbits, ground squirrels, other small rodents, insects, reptiles, and the fruits and berries of wild plants. They pose no threat to people and have been welcomed in many communities across the country from New York City to Los Angeles.”

With his canine teeth showing in a close up photo, a coyote licks his mouth with snow on his chin while standing next to his mate (off camera) in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.
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So where do you fall on the coyote spectrum? Leaning more toward love or hate?

If you’re more of a hunter than a gatherer, Game and Fish offers a few tips to hunting them courtesy of Patrick Carney, president of the Idaho Trappers Association and longtime coyote hunter.

“The colder the weather and the more miserable as far as cold and snow, the quicker the coyotes will come to you,” Carney said. “The hungrier and the more they are hunting, the better. When it is cold and miserable and groceries are hard to come by it is hard for them to sit there and let a meal go by, if they think it is a meal.”

“What I try to do is find just a little bit of a knoll with some broken country,” Carney explained.

Then he sneaks in and gets along the side of the higher ground. But he’s careful not to be silhouetted.

“A lot of times they will lay in that broken country during the day. I like to get off the top and come partway down, and then I like to get where I can watch the country coming in to me. I lay down and call from there. I lay down on my belly with my rifle out front in front of me.”

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