Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
Over the past two weeks we have talked about coyotes and the attempt to control their numbers through the years. Bounties, government trappers, and other attempts to reduce the coyote populations all have been tried and not produced satisfactory results. During the fur boom of the early 1980s, a good portion of Missouri saw recreational hunting of coyotes with trucks, dogs and CB radios being employed almost every weekend when snow conditions were right. A good number of coyotes were taken during this era, but eventually things changed. Fur prices fell, gas prices rose and for a period of years mange reduced coyote populations and the efforts at hunting them.
Another change was occurring at the same time. Some rural farms were being divided up and more private property owners objected to the running of dogs. Since a dog tracking a coyote, (and the coyote) didn't know where these no-go farms were, it made it harder and harder for a group to run dogs without running into a problem.
The eventual solution in Missouri was to educate any landowner having depredation through an extension program how to catch the animal causing the problem. Instead of waging a war on all coyotes and other predators, the attention was focused on the offending animal. Traps and supplies were made available at cost and the landowner then had the knowledge and ability to control his problems in the future.
In a 1973 paper on predator control in Missouri, Dan Dikniete summed up his findings by saying,
“Missouri does have a substantial predator depredation problem aggravated by the extreme views of opposing groups, and some mismanagement of livestock. We have found that bounties, government trappers, and hunters with dogs cannot expect to satisfactorily alleviate damage. From some 27 years of experience and questionnaire results, we know that the Extension trapper system is the least expensive and most effective method of control under Missouri conditions. It enables farmers and ranchers, once trained, to apply control measures promptly when and where they are needed. Control activities are aimed only at that specific predator causing damage and not the overall population, as is the case with bounties and poisoning campaigns. This fits in well with our philosophy of managing wildlife - allowing the "honest" predator to fulfill its basic role in the overall wildlife community.”
This approach along with a long open season for sport hunting and trapping is the approach still used today.