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Western Minn. counties take varying views of coyote bounties

MONTEVIDEO -- A $10 price was placed on the head of coyotes in Chippewa County starting Dec. 1, and some bounty hunters are answering the call.

One week after the start of the bounty program, Chippewa County had paid out $10 bounties for eight coyotes. All of the coyote bounties were claimed by hunters who pursued the animals with firearms, and none by trappers, according to Chippewa County Sheriff Stacy Tufto. His office is responsible for overseeing the bounty program.

The Chippewa County Board of Commissioners had adopted a resolution to pay a $10 bounty for each coyote taken in the county from Dec. 1 to April 1. Coyotes must be presented to the Sheriff's Office, where an ear is punched to identify it once the bounty has been paid.

Swift and Yellow Medicine counties will pay $10 bounties for coyotes as well. Yellow Medicine County adopted a resolution to begin paying bounties on Dec. 1. Swift County adopted the same resolution but set the start for Jan. 1.

The Lac qui Parle County Board of Commissioners took up the issue Thursday but did not adopt the resolution. The board is not likely to take up the matter again anytime soon.

Todd Patzer, chairman of the Lac qui Parle County Board, said it was apparent from the discussion Thursday that there is no interest in establishing a bounty in the county.

The biggest reason is a lack of interest from constituents about a possible bounty. Only one commissioner had received one call from a constituent expressing support.

The commissioners also expressed reluctance to saddle a county department with extra work, Patzer said. They also expressed doubts as to whether a $10 bounty would really serve to interest people in hunting coyotes who do not already do so.

The county's location on the border with South Dakota also figured into the conversation. The commissioners noted that it would be hard to know whether coyotes were harvested in the county or in the neighboring state.

The Chippewa County Board of Commissioners had been the first to promote state legislation to allow bounties on coyotes. The state had ended its coyote bounty program in 1965 and until new legislation was approved during the last session, counties could not offer their own bounty.

The Chippewa County commissioners said they adopted the bounty in response to concerns from livestock producers about predation by coyotes, and from hunters who believe they prey on fawn and reduce deer numbers.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources had opposed the bounty, pointing to research showing that bounties are ineffective.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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