Professor discusses coyote preservation

FMU hosted  Christopher Mowery, associate professor of biology at Berry College and director of the Atlanta Coyote project, to present a science symposium about coyote preservation.

Mowery said Travis Knowles, associate professor of biology, who shares a connection with Highlands Biological Station in North Carolina, approached him to speak at FMU. Mowery, the founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project, said he was drawn to the topic of coyote ecology because of the lack of information on the topic.

“The main takeaway I hope students have from this lecture is just a deeper appreciation of ecology, and to hopefully dispel some of the major misconceptions about coyotes,” Mowery said. 

Knowles said he appreciated Mowery’s topic because it coincided with a class he is currently teaching.

“I’m currently teaching conservation biology,” Knowles said. “One of our topics is the critical role of predators in natural ecosystems. We need to ensure their conservation where they persist. Few animals, in my experience, are more misunderstood or despised by the general public than coyotes.”

Associate professor of biology Paul Zwiers, who attended the event, shares the opinion that symposiums like this are vital in enriching the FMU community. 

“Science symposium is a venue for our faculty to explain and demonstrate their research projects,” Zwiers said. “Honors students are eligible to take a course in which students read and discuss scientific articles outside of the symposium and attend the symposium for credit.”

Zwiers said he particularly liked this cause because he enjoys discussing new topics with students.

“I hope attendees leave these symposiums with more questions than what they came with, as this leads to new lines of inquiry, new research projects and then more questions,” Zwiers said.

Wright, current FMU student and vice president of the Pre-Vet club, said he attended the event because of his interest in the topic of coyotes.

Wright said the public and South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) are too quick to demonize coyotes.

Wright said this is seen in the Coyote Harvest Incentive Program used by the SCDNR. The program captures coyotes, tags and releases them. Anyone who kills and returns a tagged coyote receives a hunting license for life.

“As with most animals who are given such a bad reputation I know that the rumors are seldom true,” Wright said. The speaker, Dr. Christopher Mowery, was very knowledgeable on the subject. It really was a phenomenal talk and I was very glad I attended.”