A bounty on coyotes - are you kidding?

Posted on December 13, 2013

Mark NaleRepresentative Mike Peifer, R-Monroe, has proposed a $25 bounty on coyotes - with HB 1534. It is 2013, is this guy serious? Maybe he is just looking for votes from uninformed people.

This is what happens when legislators who know nothing about nature propose to make laws that affect wildlife.  Bounties are a "feel-good" response that incite fraud and cheating. They were tried a LONG time ago and they DO NOT WORK.  Why would the result be any different now?

As all wildlife biologists know – coyotes are a perfect example of the "compensatory response." If coyote populations are low and food plentiful, coyotes will reproduce at a higher level and their offspring will survive at a higher rate than normal. If coyote populations are high and food supplies low, their reproduction and survival rate drops.

Even if a bounty would cause significantly more coyotes to be shot (which is doubtful), the surviving coyotes would quickly respond by reproducing at a higher level.  Result: bounties paid, money lost – coyote population unchanged.

It was really nice of Peifer to legislate that the bounties be paid by the Pennsylvania Game Commission from the agency's Game Fund. If he is really sold on bounties, I suggest that he propose to pay for them with taxpayer money – not hunting license dollars.

Peifer claims coyote problems within his district. "Coyotes are coming into their yards, and they [the residents] are losing their cats," he said.

I guess my comment would be that overall, this is good for wildlife. Cats that are allowed to roam free are responsible for killing many, many rabbits, young pheasants, cardinals, chickadees, juncos and other wildlife. 

A new study published early his year and authored by scientists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finds bird and mammal mortality caused by outdoor cats is much higher than had been previously reported. According to the study, annual bird mortality is now estimated to be 1.4 to 3.7 billion and mammal mortality likely 6.9 - 20.7 billion each year.

People should keep their beloved feline pets indoors – end of story.

If coyotes actually eliminate free-roaming cats, I say bring on the coyotes!