By Simon Romero
The New York Times
Dennis Murphy sniffed the bobcat urine he uses to lure his prey. He checked the silencer on his AR-15 assault rifle and loaded a few snares into his Ford pickup.
“Let’s go kill some coyotes,” he said.
But he wasn’t heading for the wilderness. Mr. Murphy’s stalking ground is on the contentious new frontier where hunters are clashing with conservationists: cities and suburbs.
Coyotes are largely associated with their ancestral bastions in the wild lands of the American West, but they are highly adaptable, and in recent years they have been colonizing large population centers throughout North America. The hunters have come after them, stalking the predators in settings like strip mall parking lots, housing tract cul-de-sacs, and plazas in the shadow of skyscrapers.
The growing popularity of urban hunting is igniting a fierce debate over the perils and benefits coyotes pose in populated areas, and whether city dwellers ought to adapt to living alongside a cunning predator that has thrived since one of its top adversaries, the gray wolf, has been all but wiped out in much of the continent.
Enthusiasts for the urban coyote chase contend that they are helping to limit the spread of a pest that federal authorities already kill by the tens of thousands every year in eradication projects. Some also concede that they enjoy the thrill of urban hunting, which requires different kinds of training and marksmanship than prairie or mountain hunting.
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