Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Sly Coyote Becomes a Bounty Hunters’ Target in Utah

...Mr. Glauser is not alone in his aversion or in his desire to do something about it. Last year, the Utah Legislature enacted a “Predator Control” incentive program as a way to jointly curb coyotes and safeguard their occasional prey, the mule deer. Under the law, the state now pays civilians to hunt coyotes. So this winter, when Mr. Glauser, 18, spotted a coyote on a patch of ice, he ably called it to him, and shot it. Then he made his way with the carcass to a Division of Wildlife Resources office here, where a government pickup truck served as a repository for parts. Ears, jaws, scalps and nose-to-tail pelts were deposited in an iced-over flatbed as hunters pulled up with garbage bags carrying the animals’ remains. In orderly fashion, their hauls were documented. One veteran trapper came with a cargo of a dozen skins. Others, like Mr. Glauser, proudly carried one capture. They lined up to qualify for their bounty: $50 per coyote. Coyotes are considered a persistent menace in the West, where they and a highly adaptable neighbor, humans, have been encroaching on each other’s territory for decades. “I’ve seen them pull down animals, and they’re vicious,” said Chase Hufstetler, 29, who has been hunting coyotes for 15 years. “I think they are a nuisance.”  The new bounty program represents one of the nation’s largest hunter-based efforts to manage predatory wildlife. Though no one knows how many coyotes there are in Utah, the law allows for as many as 10,000 animals to be killed. (The state is also home to the country’s only coyote research facility financed by the government.) By early March, six months into the collection, the remains of 5,988 coyotes had been turned in. Utah residents pride themselves on the state’s natural beauty, its wildlife and the acumen of its hunters, and so the bounty program also represents an experiment in managing the competing agendas of conservation and culture, scientific and economic development. So far, hunters are enthusiastic, environmentalists are crying foul, and state wildlife administrators are stuck in the middle...more

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