Coyote bounties don't work, and have never worked
A few months ago, a Pennsylvania legislator proposed putting a bounty on coyotes in the Keystone State. His stated coyotes are major predators on young deer and he reasoned if there were fewer coyotes there would be more deer. The bounty would be paid by the Game Commission from a $700,000 dedicated fund.
A few weeks ago in Sounding Board interviews which appeared in our sister publication, Pennsylvania Outdoor News, every person interviewed said they would be in favor of a bounty on coyotes. But although we think these people are well meaning, at worst they seem to have a cockeyed idea on game management or, at best, they are misinformed. One person actually stated the Game Commission was responsible for introducing coyotes in the first place and it now wants to reduce their numbers by placing a bounty on their heads.
Personally, we feel the whole idea of offering a bounty is a harebrained attempt to make hunters think their legislators are working for them and that the Game Commission and its professional biologists are the ones who are way off base in managing Pennsylvania’s deer herd and, to a lesser extent, other wildlife species. It infuriates me that some of these legislators seem to think they know more about game management than the dedicated professionals who are actually paid to do so.
First of all, wildlife experts across the nation all say the idea of paying a bounty on coyotes has never worked anywhere it's been offered and that there is no evidence that paying a bounty has had any long-term impact on coyote numbers. The Game Commission itself feels it made a serious mistake when it previously offered bounties on predators such as foxes and even great-horned owls. What’s more, it’s estimated that up to 70 percent of the local coyote population would have to be removed in order to make a dent and even if that did occur, coyotes are able to cope by having larger litters, thus offsetting the population decline.
Thankfully, here in New York there are no cries for paying bounties on coyotes. And personally, I don’t know a hunter who’s seen one in the woods that hasn’t taken a shot at it. Do we have a good population of coyotes here in the Southern Tier? You can bet the ranch on that. This past archery season there was hardly a night that I didn’t hear them howling in the woods around me, and last spring while turkey hunting I had one come sneaking into my calls. Coyote fur is in demand and a good coyote pelt could bring a trapper $30 or more. So I say forget the bounty and let the hunters, trappers and nature control the coyote population. The money saved could be put to far better use.