Prime time for predators

By Josh Sheldon

Sun Outdoors Writer

Predator management is a majorly important tool for anyone attempting to protect and sustain healthy herbivore populations. Some people view them as brother fox, coyote or wolf, while others see them as vermin. It surprised me as to the reaction I received by local hunters, after simply mentioning coyotes eating deer a couple of columns back.

It's understandable how a person’s image of predators differs so drastically from person to person. I haven't written a column on the topic thus far, but expect this one to open the granola flood gates. I have received a few hate mail letters from confused animal lovers, and expect several in reaction to this column. It seems the least educated rabble rousers make the most noise these days. I guess it's just a sign of the times.

On the topic of species hate mail, coyotes have taken the prize. It's a known fact among hunters that coyotes do more damage than good when trying to operate a wildlife management program. For this reason, many hunters hate coyotes and would like to see the outright extermination of the species. Hunters like myself recognize a coyote’s place in our environment, but only when kept at a reasonable carrying capacity. If at any time that number is exceeded, measures need be taken to prevent damage to the other wildlife.

The problem is uneducated folks in government keep changing the rules, and making new ones that don't reflect an acceptable management program. As for our state, opening season on coyotes year-round is the most sound management tool. If it's deer we want to protect, we must reduce the number of fawns killed. A spring season would be the only way to do so. Many states have done this and have reduced their numbers, while not endangering them as a species. At this point, the extermination of coyotes would be idiotic, nearly impossible, and would also reflect a negative management program.

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