On a frigid winter day in Michigan, a hunter shoots a coyote three or four times, gravely wounding the animal. Gasping for life, the poor creature lays prone, bleeding in the snow. The hunting ethic calls for an additional shot to put the animal out of his misery.
But this hunter didn't get the memo. Just for sport, he unleashes a pack of hounds to attack the coyote. The dogs then shred the defenseless coyote as the hunter presses them to continue the attack. It's tough stuff for anyone to watch, even someone like me who has had to look at thousands of hours of animal cruelty video footage during my two decades at The HSUS. In this case, the hunter let this entire horror play out in front of a child, thinking again that it was all some sort of enjoyable or educational experience.
Today, Mlive.com reporter John Barnes publicly exposed this cruelty, and The Humane Society of the United States is calling attention to the egregious practice of hound hunting of mammals and this unbelievable instance of wanton depravity. We are releasing this video in the hopes that exposing these grievous acts of animal cruelty will result in the prosecution of the perpetrator.
Any decent-minded person agrees that purposely wounding a wild animal so that it can be tortured by a pack of dogs is a blood sport, akin to animal fighting. It should be illegal, and the people who do it should be held accountable.
There are conflicting views about coyotes. Some people label them as "varmints" and can only see coyotes as wily, voracious competitors for human food sources. Many others recognize that they are closely related to dogs and play a vital role in ecosystems, especially in controlling rodent populations. Because coyotes prey on skunks and raccoons, they indirectly benefit other species such as ground-nesting birds, promoting biological diversity and ecosystem health.
Today, hounding for coyotes is allowed in Michigan. In Wisconsin, it's also allowed for coyotes and for wolves. And if we don't succeed on ballot measures to protect wolves in Michigan in November -- an issue The HSUS has helped place on the ballot in order to prevent this very sort of cruelty -- hounding for wolves may be coming to the Wolverine State soon. This is the type of cruelty the politicians in Lansing and the unelected political appointees at the Natural Resources Commission could allow if they get their way and prevent the voters from having a say on wolf hunting.
This conduct should have no place in a civil society, and we should all be on our guard against it. And today in Michigan, prosecutors should act with haste.
This article first appeared on Wayne Pacelle's blog, A Humane Nation.