State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

A bounty on their heads

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Dec 13, 2013 11:07 AM

Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Hunters could collect a bounty for coyotes under a measure passed by the state House.

The legislation would allow the Pennsylvania Game Commission to turn hunters and fur-takers loose on the coyote population and collect $25 for every carcass they bring in.

The measure wouldn’t give the commission any additional funding. Instead, the agency could take as much as $700,000 from its own revenues, most of which come from hunting license fees – a revenue source it has called “relatively fixed.”

The coyote population is described as “likely” increasing, but, more to the point, the animals are encroaching on suburban and urban areas. Hunters have been rewarded for killing coyotes in other states the past, but the Pennsylvania Game Commission has suggested such methods “did lead to any significant population reduction.”

From the commission's website:

The main reason was that about 70 percent of a coyote population has to be removed annually in order to cause a population decline. Even then, coyotes - like many other species - have demonstrated an ability to offset population declines by increasing their litter size. It's spurred by a built-in biological mechanism that responds to population deficits.

A bounty system has never successfully eliminated or significantly reduced coyote populations anywhere in North America. Coyotes have a superior ability to adapt to a changing environment. Attempts to reduce coyote populations in western states using year-round poisoning, hunting and trapping resulted in millions of dollars being spent over many decades with little reduction in coyote numbers. The result of any predator control method is temporary and often very localized. No measurable good ever resulted from the Game Commission's predator bounties in the 1900s. They truly were a waste of money.

The Game Commission has not taken a position on the bill. But Sarah Speed, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania chapter of the Humane Society, said money shouldn’t be diverted from other Game Commission programs to keep coyotes by way of a shoot-on-sight method. She also voiced concerns that the coyote control program could result in reckless firing on pet dogs.

The measure passed without debate in the House, with a vote of 111-78. It now goes to the state Senate.

Published in State House Sound Bites

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Comments: 4

  • img 2013-12-14 17:58

    "A bounty system has never successfully eliminated or significantly reduced coyote populations anywhere in North America."

    So why is the house and senate passing this measure? The evidence shows it does not work.

  • Skip Carlsbaugh img 2013-12-15 11:36

    The bounties spoken of that failed were in HUGE desolate states in the west several times larger than Pa, with very small human populations, huge coyote populations and a fraction the number of hunters Pennsylvania has. The statement: "A bounty system has never successfully eliminated or significantly reduced coyote populations anywhere in North America" is VERY misleading. The only way to know if a bounty will work is to implement it. It can always be repealed. Although there is little doubt it would work given our specifics.

    • Skip Carlsbaugh img 2013-12-20 21:42

      The environmentalist nutjobs and antihunters don't care about facts Skip. You make very good points as to why a bounty would have a very good chance of working in PA, not Utah. Not New Mexico. PA.

      Lets do it! Its badly needed. Way too many deer, pet and livestock killers around right now.

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