Here is a article from my hometown newspaper
CHARLESTON — Paying bounties to hunters is not an effective method of lowering the burgeoning coyote population in West Virginia, a Division of Natural Resources game expert says.
At the same time, Paul Johansen says he applauds the efforts of Smokie Coyote Hunt Club to encourage predator hunting.
For several months, club founder Doug Prichard has stumped the state in so far unsuccessful efforts to corral public funds to defray the $25 paid for each coyote brought in.
To date, Prichard has formed 20 chapters of his club, named after a prize coonhound victimized by a pack of coyotes in a hunt several years ago.
“Evidence is overwhelming and crystal clear — bounties simply do not work as an appropriate control mechanism,” says Johansen, assistant chief of game management for the DNR.
“Literally hundreds of millions of dollars were spent in North America, much of it in western states for years and years on paying for coyote bounties. They didn’t work. The population has not been controlled.”
Moreover, Johansen says, the bounty system is saddled with a number of setbacks.
“One of the biggest ones is fraud,” he said, “such as people claiming they killed a coyote when they picked it up in a road kill.”
What’s more, he says, coyotes are extremely adaptable, capable of adjusting to hunting pressure, whether that is executed in a trap or at the point of a rifle.
“They respond to mortality, adjust to reproductive potentials and are extremely capable of surviving in a habitat appropriate to that species,” Johansen says.
“There’s no question that coyotes are here to stay. They’re part of the natural eco-system here in West Virginia.”
Johansen also disputes Prichard’s belief that coyotes are making serious inroads into the deer and turkey populations in this state, threatening a multimillion-dollar hunting industry.
In fact, he said, the number of deer victimized by coyotes to sustain their diet is “probably rather insignificant.”
“There is clear evidence that in some regions of the country, coyote degradation can have an impact on deer population,” he said.
But this is in the northern latitude where severe winters usher in huge and long-lasting snowfalls, and deer tend to “yard,” or cluster, to preserve energy.
“In severe winter months, they tend to cluster under cover to get out of the elements and to conserve nutritional needs,” the DNR official said.
“That’s usually associated with areas in the East, in New England. Yarding is a behavior pattern we don’t see in West Virginia.”
That isn’t to say a coyote wouldn’t chow down on a fawn if the opportunity arose, he said.
“Do coyotes eat deer?” Johansen asked rhetorically.
“You bet they do. If they can get something in their mouths and chew it, they’re going to eat it. But when you talk about population dynamics and the significance of that impact, the impact on the deer population is rather significant.”
Prichard referred to statistics showing that 70 percent of fawns this will year will be wiped out by coyotes. He also said the turkey population in some parts has fallen by 50 percent or greater — another point that Johansen disputed.
“There’s absolutely no evidence to indicate that,” he said of turkeys.
The fact is, he said, ample research has shown that only one turkey has been victimized by a coyote and even that kill is only suspected, not proven, Johansen said.
While Prichard paints a grim picture of coyotes massing to the point they have wiped out 300 cats in his Oceana hometown, Johansen cited the work of a retired federal agent who estimated their numbers at between 20,000 and 40,000.
“There is no definitive way to say what the population is,” he said.
“I would certainly characterize the coyote population as statewide. They’re in every county. They’re extremely healthy and have certainly expanded into all 55 counties.”
West Virginians may hunt coyotes year-long in daylight hours, but night hunts are limited from Jan. 1 to July 31. The abbreviated nocturnal hunting is explained by the concern that landowners might confuse gunfire with poachers hunting deer at night out of season, Johansen said.
Johansen says farmers and other livestock owners can get help in ridding their land of troublesome coyotes in a government program that targets those attacking domestic animals.
“That’s a learned behavior,” he said. “Not every coyote engages in it.”
As for homeowners worried about pets, Johansen offers a simple suggestion — don’t leave cat and dog food in dishes at night, when coyotes go foraging.
Based on experiences elsewhere, Johansen says he doubts a bounty system is ever going to make any inroads into thinning the ranks of coyotes.
“However, I applaud the group (Smokie Club) for its efforts to encourage the recreational pursuit of coyotes, either through trapping or predator hunting,” he said.
“I think that’s probably a good thing.”
U.S. Airforce Pavements and Construction Equipment Operator (Dirt Boyz) 1996 - 2016.