From March until August, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division is promoting the Georgia Coyote Challenge. This program not only encourages the lethal removal of coyotes for wildlife management purposes, but also presents participants with an opportunity to win a lifetime hunting/fishing license (or credit for purchase)—thanks to the Georgia Hunting and Fishing Federation. This program was developed for the management of wildlife in Georgia, which is an important factor for conservation of our natural resources.
Luckily, the federal excise tax placed on sporting equipment makes it possible for the Wildlife Resources Division to keep our wildlife populations healthy and diverse. This is all thanks to hunters and anglers purchasing this equipment and the proper licensing for its use. With this revenue our state’s professional wildlife biologists can perform studies to better understand our ecosystems and best manage any current and future issues. Currently, concerns are high about coyotes moving in on metropolitan areas and preying on domestic animals. Through scientific evaluation, it has been determined that the span of time between March and August is optimal for the lethal removal of coyotes for the conservation of all native wildlife, including the coyote. Another great outcome of the Georgia Coyote Challenge is the opportunity to educate hunters who are unsure of regulations in relation to coyotes. In the state of Georgia, coyotes are not—and have never been—a protected species. Their ability to adapt quickly and exploit resources keeps these animals abundant, and the increased sightings around human developments calls for the regulation of their numbers. In addition, despite the 5 per month entry limit, the season for coyotes is open year round and there are no bag limits.
DNR RESPONSE TO STATEMENTS OF MISINFORMATION
“DNR is supposed to be protecting the diversity of wildlife”
The mission of the Department of Natural Resources is to sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources for present and future generations, while recognizing the importance of promoting the development of commerce and industry that utilize sound environmental practices. The mission of the Wildlife Resources Division is to conserve, enhance and promote Georgia’s fish and wildlife resources and outdoor heritage (i.e., hunting, trapping, fishing, wildlife watching) through science-driven research, management, regulation and education.
The Georgia Coyote Challenge is consistent with and supported by the DNR and WRD missions.
“Other states have banned similar contests”
There is only one state to have prohibited coyote contests – California. Specifically, California’s approach does not actually prohibit contests; it only prohibits the offering of a prize for the taking of a furbearer or nongame mammal in an individual contest. In California, coyotes may be taken year round (i.e., there is no closed season and no bag limit).
Many other states have recognized that the prevention and management of wildlife conflicts is an essential and responsible component of wildlife management and have used programs similar to the coyote challenge as a tool in addressing the negative impacts of unmanaged predator populations.
“Hard data showing that coyotes significantly impact the populations of other wildlife species is scant to nonexistent”
This is incorrect. In brief review of published literature since 2005, wildlife biologists and researchers have produced more than 29 scientific, peer-reviewed publications documenting significant impacts of coyote predation to fawn survival alone. Further, more than 80% of these were conducted in the Southeast and 40% were specific to Georgia.
“Recent studies in South Carolina concluded that the negative impact of coyotes on deer populations is minimal (Kilgo et al., 2016)”
This is false. The referenced 2016 study concluded that the impact of coyote predation on adult female deer was minimal on the Savannah River Site, however the introduction of that journal article specifically notes that multiple studies have documented the high level of coyote predation on white-tailed deer fawns in the Southeast.
“Coyote ‘removal’ will not reduce the population long-term.”
We agree, and we never stated that the goal of this program was to reduce the statewide coyote population. This program is designed to complement and recognize the existing lethal removal of coyotes by hunters to more effectively manage the impacts of coyote predation on native wildlife and minimize the negative interactions between humans and coyotes including the killing of pets, livestock and public safety and health.
“Initiating this in March is intended to coincide with pup-rearing season.”
This program is focused on this time period (March-August) because the best available peer-reviewed science shows that lethal removal of coyotes during this time period is most effective for reducing negative impacts from coyote predation on native wildlife.
“The ‘Georgia Coyote Challenge’ is a misguided attempt to reduce state coyote numbers”
Again, the Georgia Coyote Challenge is not designed to reduce the statewide coyote population, and we never stated that the goal of this program is to reduce the statewide coyote population. The Georgia Coyote Challenge is a program that highlights a management strategy available to citizens to maintain a biologically appropriate balance of predators and prey.