Coyotes: An Over Populated Threat to Our Wildlife
Although historical evidence supports the presence of coyotes in New England, there were no coyotes present in the late 1800s. Since the mid-1900s, coyotes have moved from the Midwestern states, through Canada and into the Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states. The first verified account of a coyote in New Hampshire was in Grafton County in 1944. Between 1972 and 1980 coyotes spread across New Hampshire from Colebrook to Seabrook. Today, coyotes are common in every county throughout the state.
I vividly remember the good old days of hunting when woodchucks, pheasants, cottontail rabbits and snowshoe hare rabbits were plentiful. The coyotes were populating in the state and today, it is a rare day that you see a woodchuck, a surviving pheasant or snowshoe hare. And perhaps worse is the fact that coyotes in New Hampshire are responsible for declining deer populations too. They kill the young fawns. Coyotes are generalists, eating whatever food is seasonally available. This includes mice, squirrels, woodchuck, snowshoe hare, fawns, farm chickens, house cats and small dogs. They’ll eat carrion, garbage, amphibians, insects and fruit. They utilize forested habitats, shrubby open fields, marshy areas and river valleys.
Within a year, some pups will travel long distances to find their own territories , while other offspring will remain with their parents and form a small pack. Territories can range in size from five to twenty-five square miles. Coyotes are very elusive and intelligent animals that manage to hold their own when living in close contact with humans. Most coyote management attempts have been designed to reduce their population numbers, however, due to their prolific birth rate, behavior and adaptability, those attempts have failed.
We need more incentive to attract hunters to hunt coyotes, perhaps a bounty? It might work, but such would cause another burden on Fish and Game’s finances and we don’t need that. They aren’t easy to hunt and it takes some doing. In New Hampshire, there is no closed season on coyotes. They may be taken by trapping, or shooting, but it is illegal to use poison as a method. Hunting them is open all year round, statewide, with no limit. However, usually the best success in hunting them is at night and requires written permission from the landowner. Night hunting season for them is January 1 through March 31.
In shotgun-only towns for deer, hunters must use either shotguns, .22-caliber rimfire rifles, muzzleloaders or bow and arrow to hunt coyotes. Lights may be used except from a motor vehicle or OHRV. The use of electronic calling devices are legal. Written landowner permission, filed with the local conservation officer is required to hunt coyotes at night or to place bait for them. You also need a drawn map of the landowners area where you will be setting up your stand showing the location of your bait and/or calling device. Make three copies of the written permission and your stand map, one each for you, the conservation officer and the landowner.
There is a lot to hunting coyotes. Their populations are way out of control and we do need more hunters going after them. Our deer and other wildlife are more important. Many years ago, the state began importing fishers for the purpose of reducing the then over abundant porcupine populations here. They did a fine job of it, but now they have also become over populated to the determent of many small game animals and game birds as well. Can we ever win?
Bob Harris can be
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Columns by Bob Harris
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expressed by Mr. Harris are not necessarily those of the
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