A Pennsylvania coyote rumor that will not die
In early November I participated in the two-day Ruffed Grouse Society upland bird hunt, which was held in northwestern Pennsylvania. Ruffed grouse and woodcock were on the agenda. Sixty two hunters from nine different states had the privilege of hunting with experienced huntsmen and their well-trained bird dogs.
However, this isn't about the enjoyable hunt, it is about one of those evening conversations that was shared between hunters. It is always interesting to swap hunting experiences with those from other states. That evening was no exception.
Several of us from assorted states were standing around, drinks in hand, discussing turkey and grouse nest predation – always an interesting topic. Of course coyotes were mentioned.
A hunter from West Virginia piped up, "At least your states aren't as dumb as mine," he declared. "Our DNR [Department of Natural Resources] brought in coyotes from out west and stocked them here. Talk about stupid."
Well, I have heard this story in various forms so many times that it hardly begs a reply, but this hunter did not know that. I was, however, surprised to hear it attributed to another state instead of Pennsylvania.
I briefly played along. "How did you learn that?" I asked.
"From a DNR employee," was his reply.
To any rational mind all kinds of questions immediately pop up. When did this happen? Why would they do that? Did it ever make the newspapers? – and on, and on.
Then little things like facts also get in the way. Coyotes have been in West Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania and other eastern states for well over half a century. Their DNA is different from western coyotes and eastern coyotes are considerably larger than the western variety. No one needs to bring in coyotes when they are already here.
Tact is not my middle name, so I just looked him in the eye and said, "I'm sorry, but I'm not going to believe that story."
His jaw dropped open and the conversation ceased. Everyone in the group looked at me.
"So you personally heard this," I queried. "Who was the DNR employee?"
Of course, he hadn't actually heard it, "a friend" of his did.
Before I got punched in the mouth, another hunter piped up. "You know, it is always the friend, then a friend of a friend, and eventually it leads nowhere," she said. "These stories just aren't true."
This has been my experience in every case, however the rumor lives on. Did the West Virginia hunter learn from our exchange? I can always hope, but my guess is that he is probably sharing the stocking-coyotes story with another group of hunters right now.