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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Coyote bounty focus of legislative effort
Doug Smith, Star Tribune
February 16, 2005 DOUG0216

Four years ago, three western Minnesota counties put $10 bounties on coyotes in hope of reducing their numbers.

But the counties soon discovered a major problem: The bounties were illegal.

Now, bills in the Legislature would allow Minnesota counties to pay bounties on coyotes.

Bob Padula says the idea is a no-brainer.

"Coyotes eat sheep. I've had four attacked in the last five years," said Padula, a sheep rancher in Montevideo in western Minnesota and president of the Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers Association.

"One of my neighbors lost 120 lambs a couple years ago. People are having conflicts with them. There's more and more of them around. It's a problem."

Ed Boggess doesn't deny that there might be more coyotes in farm country these days, and that they sometimes prey on livestock, but he says putting a bounty on their heads will have little effect on the coyote population.

Coyotes will kill sheep and other livestock, but DNR officials say they are less damaging to pheasants and ducks than predators such as fox and raccoons. "Bounties haven't proven to be effective in controlling coyotes," said Boggess, state Department of Natural Resources fish and wildlife policy chief.

"With bounties, you tend to pay people for taking coyotes that they would have taken anyway. Coyotes already are an unprotected species and can be taken at any time of year, in any quantity, by almost any methods."

Coyote numbers likely have increased in farm country, especially since more grasslands have been established through programs like the federal Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), which boost all wildlife, Boggess said. "Where there's more extensive grasslands, you're going to have more coyotes," Boggess said.

Rep. Aaron Peterson, DFL-Madison, asks this question: Regardless of the perceived ineffectiveness of bounties, why not at least give counties that option?

"Our thinking is that maybe this will knock back some of the more aggressive coyotes that are currently running around southwestern Minnesota," said Peterson, author of a House bill legalizing coyote bounties.

Swift and Yellow Medicine counties -- which he represents -- want to offer bounties, Peterson said. Those counties, plus Chippewa County, did so in 2001 before they learned that a state law only allows bounties for gophers and ground squirrels.

"This just gives them the authority to do it," Peterson said. "They would have to pay for everything. It would cost the state nothing."

Peterson said he has found widespread support for the measure, not only from rural legislators, but from some representing Twin Cities suburbs, where coyotes have become a concern. Five dogs were attacked in Eagan this winter, probably by coyotes.

"The general thinking in my district is that there are more of them, and that they are getting more aggressive," Peterson said. "In one instance, a constituent called and said they are within a block and half of a day-care center during the day."

Wildlife officials repeatedly have said coyotes pose little danger to humans, and there's never been a reported attack on a human.

Lesser of two evils

There's another reason why wildlife officials aren't thrilled with coyote bounties: Strange as it sounds, coyotes can help ducks and pheasants -- popular game species.

"We're better off for pheasants and ducks nesting in an area that has a coyote-dominated predator community than one with a fox-dominated predator community," Boggess said.

That's because even though coyotes will eat young pheasants and ducklings, fox and raccoon tend to target ground-nesting birds even more -- often with devastating effect, wildlife officials say. And coyotes kill fox and raccoon, keeping those predator populations in check.

"A coyote pair will have a territory of close to 20 square miles; that would displace four or five fox pairs," Boggess said. "Because coyotes have a large area, they don't cover it as intensely as fox will."

For that same reason, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is watching the coyote bounty issue closely, too.

"If this law were to pass, we'd have to wrestle with whether we'd allow bounty hunting on WPAs [waterfowl production areas]," said Jim Leach, Fish and Wildlife Service refuge supervisor. Those federal lands, common in western Minnesota, are popular public hunting destinations.

"We wouldn't want to oppose hunting, but if you're hunting a critter that would benefit waterfowl production, we might have to think about it," Leach said.

Meanwhile, Peterson said despite the concern by wildlife officials, counties should have the bounty tool at their disposal. Bounties might spur more hunters to try to kill coyotes.

"But I don't envision people driving down the road with high-powered rifles trying to shoot coyotes on the run. You have to be rather accomplished to get them," Peterson said.

Said Sen. Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, author of the bill in the Senate: "I think there is support to pass it. We're not asking to eradicate the population, just reduce the population."

Doug Smith is at [email protected]. About coyote numbers killed and prices in MN for pelts


Ron Schara: Coyote bounty: dog of an idea

Ron Schara, Star Tribune
February 20, 2005 RON0220

In 1865, Minnesota counties began paying bounties for dead coyotes.

County commissioners eagerly gave taxpayer money for coyote scalps until 1957.

When the bounty system ended, Minnesota had more coyotes in more counties than it did in 1865.

At the moment, the Legislature is again considering a bill to give counties the option of restoring a bounty on coyotes. If this bill passes, Minnesota will have the distinction of enacting, not once but twice, the most worthless wildlife management tool in America's history.

Spare us, oh Legislature.

We've waged war on coyotes long enough. We've lost. They've been poisoned, trapped and aerial-hunted in the name of eradication for 100 years. Now there are coyotes in every county.

Responding to farmer complaints about coyote-killed livestock, the House sponsor of the bill, Rep. Aaron Peterson, DFL-Madison, wants to give counties the option of paying coyote bounties.

If you pay county taxes, open the window in your car and toss a few bucks into the air and yell, "Bounty payment."

Here's why:

A bounty doesn't guarantee that the coyote killed for money is the same coyote who likes mutton.

A bounty payment goes to the same hunter who was hunting coyotes for the sport of it and would continue coyote hunting if no bounty was offered.

If only Swift or Yellow Medicine counties pay coyote bounties, the county commissioners will need a new four-lane road to handle the traffic as bounty hunters haul coyote carcasses to the courthouse from three states. You want fraud? Establish a bounty.

What about those poor defenseless sheep?

First, where's the farmer's responsibility here? Hired trappers who can nail the guilty coyotes provide the best control and are probably cheaper than bounties.

Can we talk?

Bounties haven't worked to reduce pest animals anywhere around the world. So why have dozens of legislators signed on as sponsors of such wildlife quackery.

Can we talk?

In Minnesota, we have serious losses of wetlands and duck populations that appear to be reaching a crisis. We have polluted rivers that need cleaning. We have declining water quality that can't continue.

We have lakeshores needing more protection from overdevelopment.

A year ago, the governor, the leadership in the Republican-controlled House and the leadership in the DFL-controlled Senate all vowed their support for the 3/16ths Plan, a way to establish consistent, long-term funding for the state's resource programs.

Yet nothing's happened.

Now our lawmakers are toiling over a bounty on coyotes?

Roll down the window and throw out the tax money.

Ron Schara is at [email protected]

3,091 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Some good info above on how coyotes actually HELP the ducks. :thumbsup:
I used to trap and if I had a fox in the trap and acoyote came along--there would nothing but ead hair balls around with part of a fox carcus. Those coyotes would tear aprt the fox. They do NOT mix well and being the coyote is over twice the weight of fox...well you get the picture.

A good point is made about targetting only the problem animals at sheep ranches. Out in MT pro trappers go after the dens, called "denning them" meaning if you kill off the pups often then there are enough wild food resources around-but with hungry growing pups they would take down even 6 mo calves. So the farmers paid the pro trappers to den the coyotes durring the spring when the calves and lambs were being born. Very effective way to control them, and cost effective too. The same should be done here where there are problem coyotes, take out the problem ones only, leave the rest IMO.

195 Posts
Just another example of people who know little or nothing about wildlife, exert their control..........If the farmers losing livestock are really losing that much....I wonder if they let hunters and trappers on their land to thin them out......the only true villian here is us....long live the coyote....
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