Iowa deer harvest stable; attention set to turn to popular coyote hunt
The 2017 Iowa deer harvest is running less than 1 percent ahead of the 2016 totals, according to a news release by the Iowa DNR.
So far this fall, 76,204 deer have been reported, compared to 75,909 for the same period last year.
Iowa’s second shotgun season ends Dec. 17. Iowa’s deer seasons conclude with the late muzzleloader season and archery season, both of which are Dec. 18-Jan. 10, 2018.
And when those final hunts close, an expected 10,000 to 15,000 Iowa hunters will turn their attention to pursuing the state’s top predator.
Although its season never closes, coyotes are hunted most often during the winter, the DNR said in a release. Iowa coyote hunters and harvest numbers have been at a record level for four of the past five years, thanks in part to predator hunting shows and because coyote fur has held its value as most other pelt prices have declined, the DNR said.
“Coyote pelts go for anywhere from $15-$30 per pelt depending on the quality and Iowa’s pelts are considered average. Last year’s average price was $17,” said Vince Evelsizer, state furbearer biologist with the DNR. Coyote fur is used as trim for hoods and coats in foreign markets.
Coyote population is distributed fairly well across the state with the highest population in western Iowa, the release said, adding that coyotes are habitat generalists and can be found near large brushpiles, timber and grass fields, and in particular, fields with switchgrass.
Hunters can use predator calls, hunt day or night, use rifles, may hunt over bait and use groups of hunters and or hounds to round coyotes up. There is no bag limit and coyotes can be hunted on a hunting or fur-harvester license.
“We receive complaints from the public about coyotes’ impact on young deer, turkeys and rabbits; harass pets, and farmers’ loss of livestock. So in that respect, hunters provide an important service by hunting coyotes,” Evelsizer said. “That being said, they’re a very wary game animal worthy of respect. We don’t allow the use of artificial light for night hunting on purpose because we encourage fair chase and it could increase the incentive to misuse the technology to poach deer and other wildlife.”
Coyote trapping is allowed, but it must be done during the trapping season.
The release went on to say the coyote hunters need to be aware of the possibility – however remote – that the animal they see through their scope is not a coyote but a wolf passing through the state. Wolves are protected in Iowa and there is no open season. Shooting a wolf has the potential to bring state and or federal fines.
Evelsizer said that other than the obvious size difference – coyotes typically weigh 25-40 pounds, while wolves typically weigh 70-110 pounds – there are other characteristics to help determine the identity of the canine. Coyotes have a pointed snout and their ears are larger proportionally in to their body. Wolves are taller than coyotes, have long front legs and a heavier, squarer frame.