Monday, March 05, 2012

It seems like foxes are getting bigger in Britain. One scientist speculates that "one possible explanation is that they are getting better fed in urban areas."

Assuming that bigger coyotes is not something we want to encourage, then certainly restricting their access to human related food sources is a good thing. But we have been arguing that for a long time, albeit it for a different reason.

What has just occurred to me is that 'managing' their population may have the same effect, by artificially reducing competition for their natural food sources. Under normal circumstances their population, and perhaps their size, is to some extent at least controlled by the availability of food - the carrying capacity of their environment. But when we start controlling their numbers by hunting and trapping, the prey:predator ratio increases, so can we expect their health and size to increase too? 'Health of the herd' is often cited by hunters as a good reason to hunt, so perhaps the answer is yes?

So, unless we want bigger coyotes, this seems like just another reason to stop trying to manage wildlife and let nature take its course. It probably knows best.

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