A woman driving to Oakdale over the weekend came across a grotesque scene: seven dead coyotes hung by their snouts on a wire fence along 26 Mile Road north of Woodward Reservoir.
She stopped and saw blue hay bale twine was wrapped around the coyote’s canine teeth and tied to the fence.
“What kind of demented mind would do that?” the woman said.
The woman named Dee, who asked only to be identified by her first name for fear of retaliation, first saw the carcass of one coyote on the fence Friday. But when she drove by again on Monday it was still there and joined by six others.
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There are very few restrictions on killing coyotes and nothing illegal about displaying their carcasses in that manner, but Patrick Foy, Captain of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Division, agrees that it is “highly offensive.”
“What is likely happening with this situation is there are people who think that if they kill a coyote and hang it on some fence or tree it will serve as a warning to other coyotes to not cross that line, which is entirely false thinking,” he said.
People most often kill coyotes to protect livestock, some do it for their pelts and even fewer to eat.
There is cattle on the property where the coyotes were hung but the owner said neither she nor her tenants know anything about who killed the coyotes or hung them there. She also said they haven’t had any issues with coyotes harming the cattle.
The property owner asked not to be identified because she is worried about retaliation from animal rights groups.
“Anyone that would kill coyotes and put them like that so the public could see is just not a normal person,” the property owner said.
She said her tenants and neighbors told her there has been a lot of gunfire in the area recently and people using spotlights to hunt at night.
“Coyotes are a non-game mammal so there is no season or limit on them; any person with a hunting license with legal access to a property can hunt coyotes,” Foy said.
When Dee saw the coyotes on Monday she took a photo and called animal control, which responded Tuesday to remove them.
Foy, who has been hunting since he was a child and teaches hunting ethics classes, said Dee’s picture is the type of picture he’d show his students as an example of unethical behavior.
Using the example of deer hunting he said, “Most hunters are savvy enough or respectful enough that they would cover their carcases. They take them home, they clean them, they don’t put them on display. That is a bygone era, or at least it should be.”