July 23, 2019

The $181.27 Dead Coyote

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According to information given to Reuters News about a year ago, Maine officials at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife (MDIFW), claimed there were around 20,000 coyotes living within the borders of that state. I don’t think there exists too many people, with the exception of coyote worshipers, who will argue that if MDIFW is willing to admit there are 20,000 coyotes in their state, there’s more accurately probably around 30,000 or more. However, for the sake of this article let’s say Maine has 20,000 coyote.

According to Gerry Lavigne, retired deer biologist with the MDIFW and current board member for the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, he says that, “Eastern coyote populations will probably decline if their annual losses exceed 60%.” “Probably decline” means also that they might not. So let’s say a 50% annual mortality on Maine’s coyotes will maintain the current population at 20,000. That would mean that each year 10,000 coyotes need to be killed just to maintain current levels. Please bear in mind here that I am being generously conservative in my estimates of coyote population and total mortality rates.

The MDIFW has miraculously found $50,000 to appropriate for killing coyotes in targeted areas. According to information coming out of the MDIFW office, that targeting is being done in 9 specified Deer Wintering Areas (DWA).

Below is a chart showing where the nine DWA are, the number of coyotes killed in each DWA and costs associated with paying hunters/trappers to kill those varmints. To date, 52 coyotes have been killed at an expense of $9,426.00. That breaks down to $181.27 per dead coyote. If Maine left coyote control up to the MDIFW, taxpayers or license buyers would have to come up with $1,812,700 annually just to sustain a coyote population at current conservative levels.

Also, according to Gerry Lavigne, of those 10,000 coyotes that need culling to maintain current populations, perhaps 80% of those are taken by natural causes in combination with trapping and hunting; again conservative numbers being used here. With Maine’s limited trapping regulations, taking more coyotes is problematic and with the state applying for an Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for trapping and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) threatening to pile on more trapping restrictions, controlling coyotes doesn’t hold a very good future for deer but wonderful if you are a coyote. This will put more burden on the MDIFW to find ways of killing more coyotes.

Of the 10,000 coyotes needed killing each year, and trapping, hunting and natural causes take care of 8,000 of them, MDIFW is left with finding some way of killing another 2,000 varmints. At $181.27 per each flea, tick and disease carrier, that’s $362,540 annually to hire trappers and hunters to get the job done.

Is this the best way to take care of this problem? Couldn’t it be argued that putting up a $100 bounty per each coyote cheaper and more effective, providing the targeting of specific areas was handled properly? For a $100 bounty per coyote there’s bound to be a spike up in coyote hunting and trapping license sales.

If you factor in the need to reduce coyote populations, say cut the current numbers in half, the expense becomes overwhelming. But I ask again, isn’t it in the best interest, if that amount of money is going to have to be spent to address this problem, that it be put into the hands of all trappers who have bought licenses and supported the wildlife and trapping in the state for years?

Either there’s a coyote problem in Maine that needs addressing or there’s not. Puttering at the problem accomplishes nothing. $50,000 could probably be used on better program management. Why go about this effort seemingly in order to fail? It’s time to go or get off the pot.

Tom Remington

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