Area state legislators to take one more shot at coyote bounty
WILLMAR -- Area legislators are planning to take another shot at passing legislation that would allow counties to set a bounty on coyotes. State Senator Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, and State Representative Aaron Peterson, DFL-Madison, said the...
WILLMAR -- Area legislators are planning to take another shot at passing legislation that would allow counties to set a bounty on coyotes.
State Senator Gary Kubly, DFL-Granite Falls, and State Representative Aaron Peterson, DFL-Madison, said they have heard from county commissioners in Lac qui Parle, Swift, and Yellow Medicine counties who are interested in the legislation.
The House approved a bill during the last session that would have allowed counties to set a bounty on coyotes after some suburban legislators took up its cause alongside the two rural legislators.
A similar measure failed to emerge out of committee in the Senate, however.
Kubly said he would again test the waters to see if a bill could pass muster in the Senate. Kubly said he will alter the legislation to allow counties to set bounties in target areas only. The original legislation ran into opposition because it took a blanket approach of a county-wide bounty, he said.
Peterson said he would also support a bill that allowed counties to target specific problem areas, possibly by township.
Kubly and Peterson said they have heard from livestock producers in their districts who are interested in seeing a bounty. They said some of the producers have complained about losses of lambs and calves to coyotes, although the number of reports has not been large. Kubly said the majority of complaints seem to be coming from producers in close proximity to the Minnesota and Chippewa Rivers.
The Swift County board of commissioners promoted the coyote bounty legislation last year, and brought up discussion about a bounty on coyotes at their annual re-organizational meeting on Jan. 3. Byron Giese, county auditor, said the commissioners remain interested in the legislation but informally agreed not to take any specific action on their own for it. Giese said the commissioners view coyote predation on livestock to be a problem. It's one that they feel the Department of Natural Resources should address, he added.
The Department does not support any measure to set a bounty on coyotes, according to Conrad Christianson, furbearer specialist with the DNR. Christianson said bounties "don't work'' and are fraught with fraud.
"They don't go after the problem animals,'' said Christianson.
Although it is generally believed that the number of coyotes has increased in some farmland areas of the state, their population has not shown signs of rapid or unusual growth, according to the annual predator surveys conducted by the DNR.
David Soehren, DNR wildlife manager in Appleton, said his office has received a couple of complaints about coyote predation in the last year, but has not seen any real increase in the number of problems.
Soehren said one complaint about predation may have been a case of scavenging by coyotes. A farmer reported finding a 250-pound calf that had been partially eaten by coyotes. Soehren said coyotes would not attack an animal that large.
He also responded to a complaint in Big Stone County where he was able to confirm that a coyote had preyed on a young calf. The farmer was able to shoot the male coyote believed responsible. "The problem went away,'' said Soehren.
He also heard from deer hunters this fall who said they saw coyotes and believe their numbers are up because of it. That idea has been debunked by hunters and trappers this winter, who have told Soehren they are not finding any significant increase in the number of coyotes.
Coyotes are an unprotected species and can be harvested by hunters and trappers. Kubly said farmers who have experienced coyote problems are free to invite hunters or trappers on to their land.