Tourists in Yellowstone National Park shouldn’t feed coyotes on the side of the road because it can lead to domestication and attacks. One cause of this may be that people are not informed. More info posted around the park would help this issue, such as signs for not feeding animals. People may think the park is out there for their benefit only and not for the animals. Unless the park is taken care of, it may not be available for the benefit of others in the future. Others may think that it doesn’t matter, and they just don’t care what happens to the animals. But, in the end, it does affect both coyotes and humans.
Brett French, an editor of the Billings Gazette outdoors page, says people get too close to animals. He also said people leave trash out around the park, and animals find it and get into it looking for food. Domesticated animals want easy food, causing the problem of wild coyotes begging food from people on the side of the road. Yellowstone National Park posted an article on their website talking about coyote and human interactions that said, “Coyotes also face threats from humans. They quickly learn habits like roadside feeding. This may lead to aggressive behavior toward humans and can increase the risk of the coyote being hit by a vehicle. Several instances of coyote aggression toward humans have occurred here, including a few attacks.” They will keep coming back for more as long as people keep giving them food as an easy food source. Also, people can get too close to the animals for pictures. They may not realize just what it can do. Animals eventually become accustomed to being around humans and lose their fear, resulting in attacks.
My class took a trip to YNP, and we witnessed a family going up to a bison for a picture on the boardwalk. We were walking away as the family was walking towards the bison. This shows that people are either not informed on what can happen, or they don’t think anything will happen to them. Also, two teachers on the YNP trip witnessed a traffic jam caused by a coyote walking on a narrow path between the road and the river. The coyote was trapped between the road and the river, unable to avoid the people. All of our experiences supported the data on coyote domestication. People were stopping on the road to watch a coyote running right beside the road, and, in doing so, were way closer than the parks 25 yard limit from the animals. People are probably not informed of that, and it is leading to the domestication of wild animals.
On the other hand, people may argue that they aren’t affecting the coyotes in any way, and that they won’t come to people for food. They may think the park is there for their enjoyment. They may think that the wild animals need saving. In all of these probabilities, though, people miss the purpose of Yellowstone. Yellowstone National Park is here as a public park for the enjoyment of people, but it is also here for the preservation of the animals and the ecosystem.
All in all, coyotes are affected by people throwing out food and trash. The more food they can get, the more they want it because it is easier to get. Coyotes are becoming more domesticated and in some cases no longer fear people. As long as nothing is done on the issue, there is the possibility out there for more people to get hurt. There needs to be more enforcement of rules that prevent people throwing food or trash out. People will keep doing this as long as there is no punishment for their behavior.
Coyote Op-Ed Letter by Cody is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.