A new award-winning documentary scrutinizes the history of human-coyote interactions and how most negative encounters have human-created causes.
The film, “American Bolshevik,” studies coyotes’ expansion and explains that when coyotes are cruelly killed, the massacres only make room for other coyotes to move in. The film also evaluates how the vicious cycle of ineffective killings, intended to “manage” populations, and the coyote’s ability to survive all types of environments, including urban ones, only perpetuates negative human-wildlife interactions.
The 84-minute movie by filmmaker Julie Marron was inspired by Cliff, a coyote who moved into a small town in Marron’s home state of Rhode Island. Cliff’s presence led to debates on the best strategy for coexisting with urban wildlife.
The film also highlights research that shows coyote numbers grow in areas with an abundance of food scraps, dead livestock, compost, or pet food. If we wasted less food, secured stored food, and kept our furry friends on leashes, coyote numbers would naturally decrease, according to experts featured in the film.
Marron noted during an interview that more than a century of killing coyotes — sponsored by private individuals, local and state governments, and hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funding — hasn’t led to decreased conflicts.
“It hasn’t worked to either eliminate or manage coyotes,” she said. “There are evidence-based strategies for coexistence, but they require us to make some adjustments to our behavior.”