The Animal Doctor by Dr. Michael W. Fox

Coyote-Killing Contests

DEAR READERS: Thanks to the efforts of Project Coyote and other nonprofit wildlife-protection organizations, coyote-killing contests are being banned in many communities.

The good news: In January, the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, approved a resolution that condemns wildlife-killing contests. Hopefully the state of Minnesota will soon join California, Vermont, New Mexico, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maryland and Colorado, which either prohibit or restrict these hunts.

The bad news: Wildlife-killing contests continue, including the recent Buffalo Ridge Coyote Hunting Tournament in Marshall, Minnesota. At this event, contestants compete for cash for the most, largest and smallest coyotes killed.

The Howling for Wolves organization posted this comment:

“Hunts like this are unregulated, with no rules and no limits. They are wrong for many reasons. First, there is no place in a civil society for wildlife-killing contests. These types of tournaments are disastrous to wildlife and the balance of ecosystems, and simply glorify violent behavior by encouraging killing simply for the sake of killing. Second, the organizers of these events often claim that they are helping to control predator populations, but the fact is this is not about controlling wildlife populations. This is about thrill-killing: a nonsensical, savage contest to see who can kill the most.”

Those who disagree with this statement need to learn about the true nature of the animals they kill. Then they might feel some remorse, evolve into more compassionate members of society and lay down their guns.

Coyotes are expanding their ranges southward. More than 400,000 coyotes are killed in the U.S. every year, but they have a remarkable ability to adjust and adapt, and they are expanding their range into Central America and moving toward South America.

Project Coyote (projectcoyote.org), founded and directed by my daughter, Camilla Fox, has valuable information on facilitating such harmonious coexistence in communities where coyotes are establishing themselves.

DEAR DR. FOX: I rescued a stray cat this December. I took it to the vet hospital with the understanding that it would stay overnight and be neutered, after first checking for a microchip and for FVL and FIV.

They said he was a 2- or 3-year-old cat, and gave him antiparasite medication, but then said I must take him home because the hospital would be closed the next two days. They said I could bring him back for neutering later. I said it would be stressful on him to have to bring him back in again, and that my other two animals would be stressed having an un-neutered tomcat in a large cage in our living area. Plus, if he started spraying, it would stink up my home.

So the veterinarian said, “Why not let him out and trap him again later and then bring him in for surgery?” She had no idea about animal behavior. Any intelligent animal, once caught in a humane box trap, is not likely to go near it again. And it is freezing cold and snowy outdoors!

I argued more, and after she spoke to one of the clinic owners, she decided to “make an exception” because he seemed to be healthy. They held the cat over the New Year’s holiday and scheduled surgery the next day. I just wanted to share this with you. -- J.Z., St. Paul, Minnesota

DEAR J.Z.: Many veterinary hospitals are cautious about taking in stray cats and keeping them on the premises if they do not have any quarantine area, because of the risk of spreading infection to other cats being treated for illness or recovering from surgery.

They were very accommodating of you, but I agree: The veterinarian who saw your cat needs to broaden her animal behavior knowledge, and common sense, when it comes to trying to retrap an animal who has recently been trapped. The suggestion was also insensitive with regard to the stress on the poor animal.

I wish you all the best in resocializing this cat. In my experience with all the stray cats we have trapped, they soon adjust to life indoors and make wonderful companions -- some more energetic than others -- and the more, the merrier!

(Send all mail to animaldocfox@gmail.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.

Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)