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No answers in coyote control

July 12, 2009 at 02:40 PM

MILLVILLE, Utah (AP)—Coyotes are often unwelcome guests, whether they’re prowling city parks, stalking the prairies or roaming the modern American suburb. Usually they forage for food, snarf down a rodent or two and disappear into the night.

Each year, government agents shoot, trap and poison about 90,000 of the ones suspected of killing livestock or causing other problems. But they’re still trying to figure out how to turn the less troublesome coyotes back from neighborhoods and ranches—without killing them.

Researchers in Utah, Chicago and elsewhere have tried a number of methods—from startling noises and lights to the whiff of wolf urine and electrified fencing. They have discovered a stubborn truism about coyotes: Unlike the bumbling cartoon character, they are wily.

“We’re really interested in how they outsmart us,” said John Shivik, who runs the nation’s only large-scale coyote research center near Utah State University.

Coyotes are fast-learners. They share information with each other and can overcome fears quickly when they realize that something that looks or sounds dangerous actually isn’t. They’re also fiercely individualistic, so a technique that works on one coyote might not work on another.

“There is no single solution for coyotes,” said Stan Gehrt, an assistant professor at Ohio State University who has been studying urban coyotes in Chicago since 2000.

Wildlife Services—the federal agency that’s spending about $16 million this year to protect livestock from wild animals—is transitioning toward a more nonlethal approach with coyotes, said Gail Keirn, an agency spokeswoman in Fort Collins, Colo.

No one’s talking about eliminating programs to kill coyotes. But over the years, there’s been an acknowledgment of the importance of keeping some of the predators on the landscape and dealing primarily with those causing damage.

“We’re not out there to eradicate the coyotes. They’re an important part of the ecosystem,” Keirn said.

For generations, coyotes were viewed as vermin—four-legged thieves that showed up in the night to steal livestock and howl eerily in the darkness. Coyotes remain the top culprit in predator-caused deaths—though far from the overall leading cause of death - among sheep and cattle.

More than 135,000 sheep valued at more than $10 million were killed by coyotes in the U.S. in 2004, the latest figures available from the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Coyotes killed about 97,000 in 2005, a loss estimated at $44 million, according to the agency.

Of the coyotes targeted last year by Wildlife Services, more than 11,000 died from M-44s, a tube-shape capsule with a pellet of sodium cyanide inside. Conservation groups have petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to have it banned.

“I just think the whole system of predator control needs enormous rethinking,” said Wendy Keefove r-Ring of WildEarth Guardians.

In Gehrt’s Chicago study - the largest of its kind on an urban coyote population in the United States - researchers found that some harassment devices worked, including two instances where wolf urine was successful keeping coyotes out of a yard. Wolves were at one time natural enemies of the coyotes.

The researchers at other times used a more low-tech method: groups of volunteers chasing coyotes while shaking coffee cans full of coins.

Researchers know less about city coyotes than rural ones, primarily because they’re relatively new on the scene. Few cities had any coyotes to speak of in the late 1980s. Now, they’re in most metropolitan areas across the country, Gehrt said.

About 300 have been radio-collared and tracked in Chicago. For the most part, they stay out of trouble - apparently feeding more often on rodents, deer and rabbits than family pets. Those that do pose problems may need tailor-made solutions.

“So me of the things, like sirens, might work out on the range but not as well in the city, for obvious reasons,” Gehrt said.

At the Utah research center—which focuses primarily on conflicts between livestock and predators—165 acres are ringed with high fences and outfitted with a high-tech security system.

Inside, about 100 coyotes are kept busy testing the latest nonlethal devices and techniques. Those that pass muster in this outdoor laboratory are taken into the field - often to ranches where coyotes have been a problem.

One of the items is a suitcase-shaped device with a flashing light and noise system that blurts out sounds of bowling alleys, car crashes and people yelling. Some bolder coyotes simply ignored the device, others stayed away and a third group were frightened at first but eventually overcame their fears.

“Coyotes just aren’t that predictable,” Shivik said. “That’s what makes this so hard.”

Other experiments have focused on “co nditioned flavor avoidance”—something akin to smelling tequila the morning after a bender—and electrified strips of red flagging that provides a brief jolt for unsuspecting animals.

Researchers in homemade perches overlooking large enclosures spend days, weeks or longer watching coyotes, looking for any helpful hints about how their minds work and how they translate knowledge into behavior.

Ultimately, the solution to keeping coyotes out of trouble will be a complicated one, Shivik said. Sometimes it will require a mix of lethal and nonlethal methods that change over time. Landowners and wildlife managers will have to be flexible but, in the end, coyotes and people should be able to get along.

“We’re trying to help coyotes as much as we help people,” Shivik said.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

i do my fair share to control them gun’s ,traps and calling…ain’t even put a dent in them .the more i catch the more i see..

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/13 at 05:34 AM

If they would take all the money on research and start a bounty on them again, then more people would hunt them down.  Predator hunting reached a peak a couple years ago when fur prices were decent, but since the price of fur has dropped, then so has predator hunting and trapping.  Trappers got hit the hardest.  I know several trappers that didn’t really mess with coyotes last year because of fur prices.  Just think what kind of population explosion we are going to get this year.  If you want to get rid of coyotes, go hunt them around august.  You will have every new pup coming to any call you can throw at it.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/13 at 08:38 AM

According to this: the bill passed both houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature as of June 16th.  In other words, it’s probably being held hostage until he gets his tax increases…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/13 at 02:39 PM

The public land i hunt only allows yote hunting during the fox trapping season and only with a .22 rimfire.If it was open all year to hunt yote i would definately take advandage of that.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/13 at 03:01 PM

There is a public site around Joliet that offer no coyote hunting, and they are so thick, that when i was trailing a deer I arrowed at night, I had at least 4 of them following me at less than 75 yards. It was slightly unnerving to know they had ZERO fear of me or the light I kept shining at them to check them out while I was trailing. The coyotes in the northern FP’s are the size of German Shepherds, literally. They have no fear either and will run to a deer grunt.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/13 at 06:40 PM

have any of you guys ever seen mothballs???

if you answered yes, How’d you get their little legs apart???

haaaaa haaaaaaa haaaaaaa

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/13 at 07:57 PM

I think most people are more annoying and unwelcome and dangerous than any animal. But if I propose going out to shoot all the rif-raff and idiots in the world, or to some other way “thin ‘em out” I sound like a nut case.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/14 at 09:48 AM

I just finished “The Daily Coyote” by Shreve Stockton.  This book is a personal account of the author’s rescue of a ten-day-old coyote after his parents were shot for killing sheep in Wyoming.  She named him Charlie.  It is a biography of Charlie’s life under the tender loving care of Stockton.  She recounts both the tender moments and the instances in which she felt excruciating fear in Charlie’s presence.  Because she is so determined to domesticate Charlie, she eventually succeeds.  Numerous photos capture Charlie’s life from babyhood through adulthood.  Coyotes are wild animals, but Stockton’s life with Charlie may help you to see them from a different perspective.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/14 at 10:02 AM

Coyotes are on the same sheet of music as cockroaches.  You are never going to eliminate all of them and if you try and do so they come back in more numbers.  The more you shoot, the heathier the bitches are due to more food supply and they throw more pups.  I don’t even waste my time shootin them anymore.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/14 at 11:03 AM


Jon, you are absolutely correct-John Kube with IDNR for many years, told me that when you take out X amount of coyotes per a habitat, the bitches may go from having 4 or 5 pups, to 12 or 14- that seems to be the case here, as we’ve never been able to put a dent in them either.

Now they do in the more open country-north of me- where they run coyote dogs all winter, and kill as many as 125-per group-

Some farmers have a much higher success rate- using Golden M fly bait on a dead hog- but of course- it kills EVERYTHING that feeds on it- Even the bald Eagles here a few years back!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/14 at 04:54 PM

ilbowhunter and walmsley you are correct. The term is “compensatory reproduction”, which is just a fancy way of saying the lower the population goes, the more young are born per litter. It seems to be driven by the pack howling and pack interaction. When there is room for more in the neighborhood as evidenced by not hearing other packs or coming in contact with them, the bitch goes from 3-5 pups to as many as 10. Double or triple the normal production. The only limiting factor then becomes pup survival. If momma can come up with enough food for the larger litter, then local numbers go up fast. With all of the CRP ground full of mice and voles that is not usually a problem. (Most studies of midwest coyotes show an 80% plus diet of rodents over the course of the entire year). This is why the sections that are hunted the hardest every year by the coyote hunters in 25 trucks with 30 dogs, still have large numbers of coyotes year after year. So shoot them, trap them, whatever, they will endure and thrive. Probably the only real threat they could face would be if the DNR assigned a biologist to manage them. Then their harvest or lack thereof would be tied to: too much corn in the fields, windy conditions and rain in one county in southern Illinois.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/14 at 07:23 PM

snhunts & Jeff 2020
Bill HB2294, was sent to the Governor, on 6/17/09 & awaits his signing. IF Quinn does not sign it within 60 days & he does not veto it (almost no chance in that), it will automatically become law.
So probably no late then the middle of Aug, we will FINALLY & LEGALLY, be able to shoot coyotes from a tree stand.
IBS’s Legislative Councilman & PSO blogger, Kevin Chapman, is the person who is mainly responsible for this old poorly worded law FINALLY, getting corrected.
IBS & UBI have both been working for years, to get this corrected.
BUT sadly we all know to well, how slow things actually work in Springfield.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 08:40 AM

Governors traditionally sign conservation legislation legislation at the state fair. It gives them a photo-op at Conservation World. They do the same thing with agricultual bills- stop by the Dept. of Ag building at the state fair and sign ag bills.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 09:27 AM


The deer and the coyote’s would be stacked up in there, hiding on top each other!

With the late corn planting this year, if the firearm deer harvest goes down again, what do you think the DNR press release will lead off with?
Bet it’s not- To -Cold-Rainy-Windy-

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 09:43 AM

Sorry walmsley that will not necessarily the case. There are different varieties of corn that mature at different dates. Thus, in springs like this one that were pushed back most farmers will plant a faster maturing variety of corn in order to get the most of their crop. This means the farmers will pick it when it is fit.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 11:29 AM

That’s if you have the option to switch varieties in the spring, Jake.  Seedcorn doesn’t grow on trees and the seed companies are growing next year’s varieties right now. Most will require orders to be placed this fall to lock in pricing and availability for next spring.  Some will let you change your order, but this will be based on availability of the seed you’re wanting to change to.  If they’re sold out of a certain variety, they can’t just whip up a new batch to sell.
  We’re basically 4-6 weeks behind average on planting, but have probably made up a week or so with the rain and hot temperatures.  My guess right now is that we will be harvesting about the same times as last year when it’s all said and done.  This assumes no early frost kills, or extremely wet conditions during harvest…

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 11:50 AM

As I said not necessarily gonna be the case. Not to mention the later corn planting isn’t necessarily the determining factor on when harvest will be. Many factors like frost late in the year to the amount of heat and moisture throughout the growing season factor in. Every year some area that grows corn seems to have difficulty getting all their crop in at the “normal” time. The seed company produces x amount of each variety of seed the year before and have it on hand. Most will let you swap seed but it doesn’t mean it won’t cost you and provided they still have some in stock. Obviously, they are growing next years seed now and take the orders in the fall. I’m just saying you can’t only put the finger on when the corn is planted as the reason that it was or wasn’t harvested by day ‘x’.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 12:07 PM

Hmmmmm has somebody not been around to catch the standing corn jokes for the last several weeks ? chuckle….....Shame on you Tim…look what you started .... hee hee

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 02:45 PM


Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 03:45 PM

Oh, I know exactly what you meant, Tim.  wink

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 04:21 PM

For you guys that rely on public ground to hunt yotes, why are you wasting your time there.  A little hard work knocking on doors and you can have all the coyote ground you could ever hunt.  Land owners usually don’t hesitate to give permission to hunt coyotes.  Granted they don’t want you hunting during deer season, but the best time to hunt coyotes is after deer season.  Illinois is actually one of the most lenient state in our country in regards to regulations on coyote hunting.  Most other state would love to have the coyote laws we have or lack there of.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/15 at 06:46 PM

Onething about coyotes they are tough critters. One year I was deer hunting not far from the house and someone had a coyote caught in a snare. It was still alive but no wayto get near. I didn’t want too blast it with the shotgun so went backtoo house and got the 22 and went back and put it down.After checking it out it was a bitch and one rear leg was gone must have been caught in a steel trap who nows when but she was in real good shape and had a beautiful pelt. But for a wild animal making it with three legs maybe thats why there is so many. Tough and smart.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/16 at 07:52 AM

Come on Tim, there won’t be any standing corn in November….LOL I know mine will be standing at that time.  When numbers are down this year the door is wide open for our buddies at the DNR.  Press release will read “Deer harvest numbers down due to STANDING CORN”.  Now back to coyotes.  Some where in these posting someone mentioned turkey nests.  The worse critter on nesting turkeys is mr possum and raccoon.  So next time you have a chance to harvest one of these “egg eaters”, do it.  A buddy I know has whacked as many “egg eaters” as they could and their turkey population went way up.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 07/16 at 09:14 AM

Another point that is seldom made with coyotes is that the population can be worsened by shooting the alpha male in a pack, which causes the females to come into heat.
On the plus side though, coyotes kill and eat racoons and possums who in turn are the primary raiders of quail and turkey nests. Skunks are prolific raoiders too but I don’t know if yotes tangle with them or not. Wipe out the yotes and you’d probably just create problems elsewhere and see a negative effect on ground nesting bird populations.
Either way I stopped shooting them years ago and don’t have any more or less than I did when I hunted them (and I still have good quail and turkey populations). I have read that the primary killer of coyotes is other coyotes and disease which makes sense to me. If others want to shoot them have at it, but I don’t believe for a minute that it makes a hill of beans difference. Better to spend your time and effort improving your habitat.

Posted by Henry Holt on 07/16 at 11:33 AM

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