What’s A Dead Coyote Worth?
What’s a dead coyote worth? Depends on who you ask, and how you define worth.
In GON’s Coyote Cull, a dead yote could win you a rifle, $500 cash or a $210 trapping package. We love dreaming up ways to give y’all stuff, but the purpose of the Coyote Cull is to keep coyotes on the minds of sportsmen.
GON will continue to beat this drum… coyotes are a non-native, invasive species in Georgia, and they have dramatically impacted wildlife and hunters. So, when I ask what a dead coyote is worth, I’m thinking more in terms of what it’s worth to wildlife and the economic engine fueled by hunters, not what you might get for killing one.
The Coyote Cull is an incentive, not a direct reward. I’m against a state-run direct reward—a bounty. No offense to my friends who work for the state, but I lean Libertarian when it comes to government programs. Sportsmen already have more than enough incentive to kill coyotes, simply because of the impact they are having.
After hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on research, it’s been scientifically proven that coyotes have a negative impact on wildlife. Research also shows that removing coyotes, especially this time of year, has a dramatic and quick result—fawn survival rates improve, even doubling in several scientific studies.
“For some of you who don’t kill enough does, coyotes are probably doing you a favor.”
That quote is from a retired biologist. Are coyotes being thought of as a potential tool in the future deer-management toolbox as hunter numbers decline? Surely not, let’s hope. The biologist was speaking at a meeting of Morgan County landowners. After the wildlife professional gave his presentation, he opened it up for questions, and a landowner asked about the impact of coyotes on wildlife.
His answer may be accurate in some instances, but not for folks sitting in that room, land managers who work their tails off for wildlife, have immaculate habitat, but they don’t have the critters they did 10 years ago. Not accurate for hunting clubs, not for mountain hunters who will get even fewer either-sex deer hunting days in coming years.
And not appropriate for folks who had turkeys forever but don’t anymore, even though the habitat is good as ever. Landowners who can’t be blamed for killing gobblers too early in the season or killing so many the hens aren’t being bred—they haven’t killed a gobbler in years and there aren’t any hens to breed.
I think a more appropriate answer would be to declare yes, coyotes have an impact. That coyotes are an invasive, non-native species in Georgia that kill a significant number of deer. And that the likely suspect in what’s caused the turkey decline is that coyote you called in with a few soft hen yelps, or the one that left a pile of hen feathers and busted up eggs in a turkey nest.
In the turkey woods, we’ve always had nest predators. The habitat on WMAs should be the best of the best. What’s changed? Fawn recruitment and turkey poult survival plummets—the response is to limit hunting opportunity.
I don’t hate coyotes. I think predators are awesome. Hand me a remote control with Netflix, and I’m picking the nature show on predators, and I’m not rooting for the impala.
But what gives with the yotes? Why a constant drumbeat from our trusted professionals that downplays the coyote impact? Next time an expert downplays it, ask yourself why. Do they not believe the research? Coyote lovers? Or do they feel the only way to deal with fewer baby deer and turkeys is to keep hunters out of the woods?
We can afford sharpshooter teams who knock off wild hogs from helicopters—because wild hogs are a non-native, invasive species having a negative impact. We can afford electro-fishing boats and people to run our rivers shocking up and killing flathead catfish—because flatheads are a non-native, invasive species having a negative impact. At least you can eat those, and they’re fun to go after.
What gives with the coyotes?
How about using some of that invasive species money to hire a professional trapper to work a WMA for a few weeks each year. Better yet, do it for five years and call it a research study. Just let me know which WMA… that’s where I’ll start using my quota-hunt priority points.