From The State Journal:
Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick believes he has the solution to West Virginia’s coyote problem.
Helmick is looking at establishing a bounty to encourage hunters to kill the critters.
He said coyotes are the state’s biggest predator problem. They are in all 55 counties and pose a threat to both farm animals and domestic pets.
“More of them are being born than we’re removing. They’re winning the battle,” Helmick told The Register-Herald of Beckley.
“We spend a significant amount of money on predator control. About half a million dollars. The feds helped us out a few years ago but aren’t doing anything at all now. We’ve lost the federal support.”
Under Helmick’s plan, coyotes would be trapped and their ears would be marked with an identifying number. They would then be released in a different area. Hunters who kill a coyote marked with a number would receive a bounty.
“Hunters will be out there all the time, looking for this type of opportunity, and will probably kill another 25 trying to get to that one, or maybe even kill 100 of them,” he said.
Details of the plan, such as the bounty amount, are still being worked out.
Helmick wants to expand the state’s sheep industry. But he said that will be difficult unless the coyote population is reduced.
“I know we have a problem with the sheep industry,” he said.
“And the coyote is not all the problem, but it’s a significant part. For the rebirth or growth of the sheep industry, it would be almost impossible with the amount of coyotes we now have on the loose.”
If this plan is implemented, West Virginia will learn the hard way what a waste of money a bounty system for coyotes actually is.
For some perspective, the coyotes that live in West Virginia are derived from ancestors that first encountered Europeans on the Great Plains.
Those settlers then spent a hundred years trapping and poisoning coyotes left and right all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Coyotes are now found in every province in Canada and every state in the US except Hawaii. If they were better swimmers, they would do fine in Hawaii.
Their range now runs from Alaska to Panama.
And all those millions and millions of dollars spent on killing them has only resulted in them expanding them.
I have no problem with hunting coyotes, but we are kidding ourselves if we think we can significantly reduce their numbers through a trapping and hunting bounty lottery.
If we couldn’t reduce their numbers on the Great Plains, where it’s very open, you can forget about reducing their numbers in dense, brushy places like West Virginia.
Coyotes are here, and they are going to stay.
You can hunt them and trap them, but we’re always going to have them.
Furthermore, Helmick’s understanding of trapping is pretty weak.
If you trap a dog in a fox trap and then let it go, that dog will never be caught in the same kind of trap again. Dogs are not stupid animals, and many old trappers trained their dogs to stay out of their traps by setting some to catch the dogs.
Once caught, the dogs become trap-wise.
This plan, which involves catching a coyote and then turning it loose in the hopes that it will be caught again, is really quite stupid.
A coyote has far more sense than any dog, and the chances of a trapper ever being able to catch one of those marked coyotes are really quite low, and we would have to pay trappers to catch the coyotes in the first place.
There really isn’t that much of a sheep industry in West Virginia. You can drive all over the state and go 50 or 6o miles without seeing a single sheep. So this policy really isn’t helping a major industry in the state. It’s just giving a few select sheep producers so assurance that the state is doing something.
A much better use of taxpayer money would be to encourage sheep farmers to keep a donkey among their flocks.
Donkeys hate anything that looks like a dog, and they will also bond very strongly to whatever animals are in their pasture.
So a donkey is the ideal weapon against coyote predation upon flocks.
But politicians like to look like they’re doing something.
This coyote bounty lottery scheme will not reduce coyote numbers. It will cost the taxpayer money.
It will look like we’re doing something.
But we’re just wasting more government funds.
But I guess that only matters when Obama does it.