Deer hunters in northern Wisconsin will now be able to shoot coyotes during the firearm deer season this fall.
Thanks to persistent efforts of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, in particular Ralph Fritsch, past president and current Wildlife Committee chair, the Natural Resources Board voted unanimously Aug. 8 to open the coyote hunting season during the gun deer season in wolf management zone one.
The season had been closed because wolves were added to the Wisconsin and Federal Endangered Species List, in order to prevent a wolf from being shot due to misidentification when a hunter thought he was shooting a coyote.
The closure was no longer needed, as wolf populations are far over the goal population and this year the DNR has opened a hunting season on wolves. But hunters can only shoot a wolf if they possess a valid wolf harvest license.
In speaking to the board in August, Fritsch said that there was no biological reason not to reopen coyote hunting in the northern counties.
Fritsch has been persistent, beginning with a petition to the Board in Dec., 2011 to reopen the coyote season during the nine-day gun deer season. This eventually led to a question on the 2012 spring hearings where voters approved opening the coyote season by a vote of 2,501 in favor and 1,048 against. A total of 71 counties supported opening coyote hunting, and only 1 was against.
Fritsch also spoke to the board in May, when the board was taking information on the wolf season, to reinforce his message that coyote hunting should be allowed during the gun deer season.
Coyotes have spread throughout the state and some people are concerned about their impact by preying on fawns, and nesting and young upland gamebirds.