Coyote hunting just breeds more coyotes

Vernon, Utah (AP) – Bill Keebler knows coyotes. He can follow
their tracks, even in deer trails, and he knows their scat and wily
ways.

And for a price, he’ll help you kill one.

“They can hear a mouse squeak at 300 yards. And they can see you
blink from 100 yards,” the 52-year-old Tooele County outfitter
tells The Salt Lake Tribune.

Keebler says the best time to hunt the elusive animals is in
winter when they spend more daylight hours on the run, though
hunting coyotes is legal year-round.

“The coyote is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever
hunted,” Keebler said. “They’re predators. They do the
hunting.”

Utah wildlife authorities respond to complaints from ranchers
and others by killing as many as 5,000 coyotes a year, but it
doesn’t seem to lower their numbers.

Project Coyote, a California educational group, says coyotes
respond to hunting pressure by reproducing faster.

The death of even one coyote in a pack can trigger breeding in
adults that normally defer to mating by an alpha male and female
pair, said Gina Farr of Project Coyote.

That observation brought no argument from John Shivik, mammal
coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

“Controlling coyote populations through hunting them is like
digging a hole in the ocean,” he said.

Most nuisance coyotes are shot from the air, but on the ground
it’s almost impossible to get close enough to the critters, Keebler
said.

To get a clean shot off, Keebler sits low in sage brush, heavily
camouflaged, sprays himself with coyote urine and blows reed calls
in an effort to lure the predators from afar.

For Keebler, coyote hunting is a pure sport, and he doesn’t pay
much to attention to the politics.

As part of his service, Keebler will guide hunters who want a
pelt or bounty offered by most rural Utah counties. He said coyote
hunting is growing in popularity but most hunters fail at it.

“There is no instruction manual for this. It’s very hard without
experience to get a coyote,” he said. “If they have no experience,
I offer training. But even then, you can’t expect to go out and get
a coyote the very first time.”

Ranchers hate coyotes, but naturalists say the predators are
misunderstood. Coyotes are known for attacking calves and sheep
ewes, but they also keep the rodent population down. They also eat
gophers, which dig holes that trip up horses and cattle.

“When it’s birthing time, the ranchers want all the coyotes
dead,” Keebler said. “But when it isn’t calving season, they want
them alive because they eat the gophers.”

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