The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said it has tagged and released 16 additional male coyotes for the second year of its Harvest Incentive Program. The coyotes were released in various rural hunting zones across the state.
A hunter who harvests one of these coyotes and provides the tag and carcass to DNR is eligible for a lifetime state hunting license. The incentive program is an effort by DNR to control the coyote population in parts of the state.
“A lot of legislators were being beat up about ‘what are you doing about the coyote situation?’ So this is their attempt to provide some incentive at a relatively modest cost to try to get more people to take to the field to try to remove extra coyotes,” DNR Furbearer and Alligator Program Coordinator Jay Butfiloski said.
DNR officials say coyote populations have expanded quickly since they first appeared in the state 30 years ago, due to a lack of natural predator. Biologists believe their presence is hurting white-tailed deer, whose population has declined more than 30 percent since 2002.
“Do we have plenty of coyotes? Yes we do,” Butfiloski said. “And there is evidence they could be suppressing the deer populations in certain locations, so that’s why there’s a lot of interest from some of the sportsmen.”
The legislature put a budget proviso in the agency’s budget last year which directs DNR to tag 16 coyotes and distribute them throughout the state. Lawmakers renewed the program with another 16 tags this year. A total of 22 of the specially-tagged coyotes are available, including six which were not harvested in 2017.
Butfiloski said efforts to capture, neuter or spay and release coyotes are not cost-effective.
“In suburban areas, your ability to do traditional coyote control using firearms and foothold traps becomes very restrictive,” he said.
Butfiloski said humans and coyotes are going to have to get used to living with each other.
“We’re going to have to figure it out one way or another because they’re not going anywhere. They’re extremely adaptable and they’re extremely successful. So the sooner we get over the fact that we’re going to have them from here on out, we’re not going to eradicate them,” he said. “We might be able to control them in certain circumstances.”
Despite the presence of coyotes in populated areas, Butfiloski said they try to avoid contact with humans. Their normal behavior is not to be where humans are in the daylight.