The bounty for killing a coyote will more than double due to a new law that was signed by Governor Gary Hebert this weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah
The new legislation was introduced by Senator Ralph Okerlund of Monroe and passed under the guise of the Mule Deer Protection Act, which will increase the bounty for bringing in a pair of coyote ears from $20 to $50 and appropriate $750,000 to fund programs supporting the slaughter, despite the fact that coyotes can already be killed year round in the state and there is no quota on how many can be killed or regulations regarding how they can be killed.
The goal is to provide hunters with more of an incentive to go find coyotes and kill more than 20,000 of them, but even wildlife officials are skeptical of the law.
John Shivik, mammals coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources, stated that even though populations are lower, they have been steady for the past two years and that the decline can also be attributed to habitat loss and environmental changes.
Other organizations also spoke out against the new law and held onto hope that the governor would veto it.
“Research shows that human hunters, habitat degradation, and climate have greater effects on deer herd size than does predation by coyotes. The truth is coyotes typically prey upon rodents and rabbits, which actually increases forage for deer, and for livestock,” according to WildEarth Guardians.
“Coyotes are important ecological actors. Their presence in systems creates greater biological diversity. Without them, kiss your ground-nesting songbirds goodbye. Coyotes limit populations of smaller carnivores such as skunks, raccoons, and opossums that prey upon birds and their eggs. Moreover, killing coyotes is ineffective. They quickly change their breeding and immigration strategies and make up for their losses. A vacant territory will contain a new coyote in about four month’s time.”
The Utah Humane Society also voiced concerns over the use of traps and poisoning, which are not only inhumane, but could pose a danger to pets and other non-target animals.
Another bill signed by the governor this weekend will impose a $5 fee on big-game licenses that will also go toward predator control.
“At a time when state budgets are being cut and Utah taxpayers are feeling an economic crunch, spending limited taxpayer money ($7.5 million in 10 years) on a wasteful and ineffective coyote-killing program is unjust to Utah citizens. This money would be far better spent to improve our public education system or any number of other worthy programs,” according to Project Coyote.
Sounds like the governor’s office has run out of ideas on how to generate money so it’s going after the slaughter of what we clearly now understand is a critical element to the balance of the ecosystem …just so hunters can kill the deer they’re pretending to save.
Photo credit: Scott Butner