When she went to take her dogs for a walk in a popular spot just south of Rock Springs last week and found a pile of four dead coyotes on the public road, Jo Lynn Emerson wasn’t pleased.
When she returned Sunday and found three more carcasses added to the pile, that was just too much.
“One was left almost in the middle of the road, I had to maneuver around it,” she told Cowboy State Daily on Monday.
The scene was distasteful and not the sort of thing that should be displayed on the main route into a popular dog-walking and recreation area, she said.
Thankfully, a hunter friend of hers volunteered to go clean up the carcasses and dispose of them properly, Emerson said.
Not Against Coyote Control
Emerson said that although she isn’t a hunter and personally doesn’t mean coyotes any harm, she understands the need to control their population. She frequently sees them when she’s out in the vast countryside surrounding Rock Springs.
She said that if she had to, she’d kill a coyote to defend her dogs, although she certainly doesn’t relish the thought. Coyotes are known to attack dogs, sometimes luring them away from their owners to do so.
“I am not against population control. I’m out in the desert almost every single day, and I carry firearm with me,” Emerson said.
Even so, she said it’s frustrating to head out for an outing with her pets in a public recreation space only to find someone’s dumped a pile of dead animals on the way in.
“If you kill them (coyotes), fine. But give them a little respect,” she said.
The spot where the carcasses were piled is along a dirt road just off Highway 430 south of Rock Springs, Emmerson said.
‘A Total Disrespect To The Wildlife’
Several Wyoming hunters told Cowboy State Daily that dumping a pile of coyote carcasses there was a terrible move.
Rowdy Anderson of Riverton is the past state champion of the Wyoming Best of the Best (WBOTB) coyote hunt.
Speaking on behalf of WBOTB, he said the carcass dump puts predator hunting in an unflattering light.
"We do not condone or appreciate this type of behavior,” he said. “Not only is this disrespectful to the people of our communities, it is a total disrespect to the wildlife we all enjoy. As an organization that promotes the harvesting of coyotes we do not promote the wasteful dumping of their carcasses in public spaces. As responsible sportsman, proper disposal of harvested coyotes should be extremely important.”
Josh Coursey, who lives near Kemmerer, said predator hunters are typically more responsible.
“Sportsmen and sportswomen have a responsibility to be stewards and guardians of their activities. This doesn’t do that. Period,” he said.
Zach Key of La Barge agreed that the carcass pile undercuts the importance of ethical predator control.
“I also don’t agree with how they were left,” he said. “It puts a bad name out there for hunters and predator management. Predator management is extremely important, and it’s also important to discard the carcasses appropriately.”
Pelts Not Worth Much Now
Coyotes are classified as a predatory species in Wyoming and may be hunted at any time. Hunters typically hide in remote areas and use calls that imitate such things as the cries of wounded rabbit to lure their quarry into shooting range.
Aerial gunning is also sometimes used, especially for large coyote culls on ranch land.
At one time, coyote pelts fetched a fair price and hunters would skin their kills. But the price for coyote pelts has since cratered, so most hunters just dispose of the entire carcass.
Seven coyote carcasses in one spot could indicate aerial gunning, said John Eckman, a predator hunter and trapper from Greybull.
“That is unacceptable for carcass disposal. Not sure who would have done that,” he said. “I'm curious what they were shot with? That's a lot of coyotes for the average hunter. If they were shotgunned it could have been aerial hunters. Prices (for pelts) are still very bad, so yes, a lot of guys are throwing them away.”
Leaving carcasses in plain sight could play into the hands of anti-hunters, said Mike Schmid of La Barge, a former member of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.
“I am a predator hunter as well and go whenever I can. I would agree that this is very distasteful,” he said. “The world is changing and more folks are against all types of hunting, especially predators. Displays like this only give them ammunition. It can be used in so many ways against predator hunting and hunting in general.
“If this was done by a predator hunters, they need to realize this doesn’t help our hunting heritage. There are plenty of places to dispose of these carcasses in the country they hunt them in.”
Given the current social and political atmosphere, Schmid said he wonders if there weren’t more nefarious reasons behind leaving a pile of dead coyotes in plain sight.
“As crazy as things are today and what people will do to aid in their cause, a part of me must ask myself, could this have been done and staged by an anti-hunting group to help their cause and make hunters look barbaric, cruel and wasteful?” he said. “These photos are very powerful, and could they play on the sympathy of future supporters? We will never know.”
Schmid also noted that a section of the controversial proposed Bureau of Land Management plan for the Rock Spring area would ban lethal predator control.
A shocking image of dead coyotes carelessly left in a public area could be used to garner support for that part of the BLM plan, he said.
Mark Heinz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.