Since the early 1900’s, coyote population expansion has moved from the great plains to all corners of the country. Coyotes are now found in all 49 states on the continental US. Given the fact that coyotes have no natural competition, they breed and reproduce at staggering rates. The population explosion of these animals has led many states, like Colorado, to issue unlimited bag limits and year round hunting.
So- why should we hunt coyotes? Let me count the ways!
- The challenge. Despite their numbers, hunting coyotes is a challenging pursuit. They have very keen eyesight and hearing. You can potentially come across them by accident, but calling is the most efficient method of hunting. Coyote calling is its own science. There are mouth calls and electronic calls. Learning the nuances of both is fun and frustrating all at the same time, but when it all comes together, it is really rewarding.
- Fawn Recruitment. Coyotes kill countless fawns each spring. In fact, predation tends to be the number one cause of declining fawn recruitment in coyote-rich areas. In fact, one study in Oklahoma cited that “coyotes were responsible for 86% of the annual white-tailed deer mortality”. Managing the coyote populations helps improve the fawn recruitment for all 5 species of deer in North America.
- Fun. Let’s face it. Hunting coyotes is fun. The challenge of calling is part of the thrill, but the target is small and takes skill especially at long distances.
- Year Round Hunting. As mentioned above, many states have no specific season for coyote hunting. This allows us to get on out and hunt when there are no other seasons open. Winter coyote hunting is especially rewarding as coyote coats are especially thick and healthy that time of year.
- Livestock Protection. Simply talk to any rancher during calving season and you will get a quick run-down on how destructive coyotes are to new calves. Literally, as soon as the calves start to hit the ground, the coyotes are on their way in. But coyotes don’t limit themselves to calves only. They will find any food source possible which includes chickens, turkeys, pigs and virtually any smaller mammal on a ranch or farm.
- Pet Protection. Coyotes are not just found in rural areas. It is now common to see coyotes in cities anywhere from Central America on north. These predators will easily consume small dogs, cats, chickens and rabbits. As humans continue to push into their habitat, they will continue to hunt in these populated areas.
- Coyote Population Management. Females can reproduce at 20 months of age. Their litters range anywhere from 4-12 pups depending on food sources and population. If the average lifespan of a coyote is 10 years- you can see how quickly their numbers can increase. With these estimates, one female can potentially have 40-120 pups in her lifetime. Actively hunting coyotes helps keep the numbers down to manageable levels.
- Disease. While not all that common, coyotes can spread canine hepatitis, canine distemper, rabies, tuberculosis and tularemia to humans or dogs.
Despite the fact that many people see coyotes as “cute dogs”, they quite simply are not. They are destructive and if their numbers aren’t kept in check the result will be devastating. So get on out there and hone your skills on these crafty canines.