While it is distressing to hear that the cat mutilations in Langley and Maple Ridge are the work of coyotes, it is also a relief in many ways.
Coyotes are doing what comes naturally to them — acting as predators on smaller and weaker animals. This is nothing new. Coyotes have done this for millenia, and there are lots of coyotes around here.
On the other hand, if the cat mutilations had been the work of humans, it would be obvious that we have someone with a twisted and warped sense of reality among us. As the Luka Magnotta case demonstrates, people with this type of twisted thinking are quite capable of doing even more destructive acts and then bragging about them on social media.
I had some nagging doubts about the suspicion that the cat mutilations were the work of humans, right from the time this suggestion cropped up several weeks ago. While the SPCA is quite right to call the matter to public attention, I believe that many people who live in highly-urbanized areas have no idea just how many coyotes there are in more rural parts of the Lower Mainland.
The area I live in is rural, although it is within a kilometre of a highly-urbanized area. The coyote population has been on the increase in recent years, possibly because of nearby development which has destroyed habitat.
I frequently have coyotes walking through my yard, and they don’t wait until nightfall. They are there at various times of the day and night, and feel quite at home.
Several weeks ago, I was out in my front yard in the early evening, about 6:30 p.m. or so, and noticed a coyote casually walking up the street. He obviously had no fear of vehicles or humans. Coyotes can frequently be seen in the medians along Highway 1, and in many farmers’ fields.
Some years ago, our neighbours had a sheep farm. Every evening, they made sure to put all the sheep and lambs in the barn, because if they didn’t, the coyotes would be feasting on mutton that evening.
Coyotes also frequent areas like Brookswood that are not completely rural, but aren’t very urban either. Any place where there is brush, creek gullies or even some temporary cover is the type of habitat they are sure to find. it. Even in Vancouver, they have been seen on golf courses and in city parks.
Coyotes routinely prey on small animals — such as cats and dogs. They particularly look for weaker and older aniamls who can be cornered more easily.
It probably isn’t a good idea to let cats out in the evening hours, particularly if they tend to stay out for hours. Coyotes will be on the alert for them. This would apply in virtually any area of Langley, because even the urban areas here offer plenty of cover for them.
This alert may have served a good purpose if it gets more cat owners to think about spaying and neutering them. Cats who have been spayed and neutered are less demanding about going outside, and often will live their lives indoors without a second thought.
It makes sense to spay and neuter them, and if it done while they are young, pet owners likely will save money in vet fees. There will be fewer cat fights, and less chance of cats being coyote bait.