HomeOutdoorsNewsConservationists Push to Get Coyotes Listed as Endangered Species: Here’s Why

Conservationists Push to Get Coyotes Listed as Endangered Species: Here’s Why

by Megan Molseed
(Photo credit should read Gerardo Vieyra / Eyepix Group/Future Publishing via Getty Images)

A new petition being pushed by conservationists is aimed at moving coyotes to the endangered species list. This move comes as experts work to preserve the population of a certain type of wolf. These wolf numbers continue to fall toward worrisome levels.

According to reports, multiple conservation groups are seeking these changes. The belief is that increasing protections for non-endangered coyotes will be effective in halting accidental Mexican gray wolf deaths. Cyndi Tuell who works as the Arizona and New Mexico director for the Western Watersheds Project says that these protections are necessary. Ultimately protecting the Mexican gray wolf population.

“I believe the current numbers were documented about 122 Mexican gray wolves in the wild,” Tuell says. “Which is an extremely low number.”

Tuell notes that a lot of the Mexican gray wolf deaths are simple accidents. After hunters mistake them to be coyotes.

“We discovered that a lot of people were saying, ‘oh, I accidentally killed this Mexican gray wolf,” she says. “[Because] I thought it was a coyote,’” she explains.    

The Mexican Gray Wolf Bears A Striking Similarity To A Coyote

The petition aiming to protect these Mexican gray wolves includes several documents. Many detailed incidents where people shot and killed these threatened gray wolves. Each of these incidents comes after the hunter mistakes them to be coyotes. One of the documents even includes an incident report from a Fish & Wildlife Service employee. This incident stems from a moment this employee “absolutely” believed he was “shooting at a coyote when I pulled the trigger.” 

And, Tuell says, this mistake is not a hard one to make. A Mexican gray wolf is of similar size to an adult coyote, she says.

“They’re both going to be gray, brown tan with a little bit of white,” she explains. “Unless you spent a lot of time looking at both coyotes and wolves to know those comparisons, it is a little bit tricky to tell.” 

Tuell adds that the protections these petitions are pushing for would only apply in areas where the Mexican gray wolf is already protected. These areas cover most of southern New Mexico. Primarily in the Gila National Forest.

Currently, there are no regulations for coyote hunting in the area. Making it much more likely that gray wolves will continue to be in danger without further protection. According to Tuell, if a hunter admits to killing a wolf and says they thought it was a coyote there are little to no reproductions.

“Even people who admitted that they killed the wolf if they claimed they thought it was a coyote, there wasn’t any consequence for them,” she explains. 

And, she says, “one of the best ways to help people understand that they cannot accidentally kill a Mexican gray wolf is to take away the excuse that they thought it was a coyote.”