Coyote bill raises issues

Times Shamrock Writer

On Dec. 11, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved a bill that would authorize the state Game Commission to set a bounty on coyotes in the state.

Named the ‘coyote control incentive program,’ the bill would pay $25 to licensed hunters or furtakers for each coyote killed.

The bounty would be Pennsylvania’s first in about 50 years, and would offer incentive to reduce the coyote population. The Game Commission estimates that twice as many coyotes, around 40,000, were killed by hunters last year, about a 15 percent increase over the previous decade.

However, that number increase is one of the arguments given in opposition of the bill, along with vague regulations that the bill would offer.

William Kalinauskis, director of District 9 Pennsylvania Trappers Association, is familiar with the coyote population of Wyoming and Susquehanna counties, and believes that numbers in this area are down compared to five or 10 years ago.

`”In my estimation, hunters and furtakers are getting less,” Kalinauskis said. “They’re trapping less and killing less in the area. When we used to trap 10 years ago we could catch coyotes any day of the week, but not any more. Family units are smaller and move off after a couple of days and backup families aren’t going through the same circuit.”

Though coyotes can be hunted year round, Kalinauskis said that fall and winter seasons are the best time to harvest them because of their hide.

“The fur is in good shape around now,” Kalinauskis said. “The pelt is worthless in the spring or summertime. Coyotes are primed around mid-December, but then once breeding season takes place they start getting rough, which reduces value on the fur market. Without a bounty there’s not much reason to hunt them for fur in those seasons.”

As far as a bounty is concerned, Kalinauskis believes there’s a chance that numbers would increase during the ‘offseason’ of spring and summer since those who don’t normally hunt would have an incentive to do so.

However, Kalinauskis sees too many flaws in a bounty for it to be successful in the future.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Kalinauskis said. “History tells you that states that had a bounty withdraw them. We’re already out there 365 days a year. The bill doesn’t give any specifics other than telling the Game Commission to look at and accept a bounty for coyotes. To me, that’s not really a biological or scientific approach.”

Kalinauskis also noted that it would be difficult to monitor a bounty throughout the entire state.

“Many of our surrounding states have coyotes, so what would the checks and balances be to make sure that they were from this state,” Kalinauskis questioned. “What would be the percentage of coyotes that people will bring from other states to get $25? The Game Commission would have to come up with a way to prove that a hunter actually killed the coyote, too.”
Kalinauskis also argued that the bill makes no mention of the financial burden the bill may have on the commission.

“There’s still the question of how much the program will cost and if the commission will benefit from it,” Kalinauskis said. “There’s no way of knowing the numbers to run a program like that. The legislature is passing it off on the Game Commission to implement the program and they’ll get the blame if they don’t.”

He added, “At this point in time there isn’t the scientific data saying the program is worth it, and I don’t see a true advantage putting in more programs that will cost more than they’re worth.”

The bill must now be reveiwed by Senate, which was not to return to Harrisburg until Jan. 7.

District 9 is also sponsoring The Northeast Regional Coyote Hunt on Jan. 31-Feb. 2.

Be the first to comment on "Coyote bill raises issues"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.