Hunting coyotes with rifles proposed

Published 11:15 am Tuesday, March 27, 2012

COURTLAND—Southampton County supervisors on Monday voted unanimously to pursue allowing the hunting of coyotes with higher-caliber rifles.

A public hearing on the matter — proposed by Capron District Supervisor Bruce Phillips and Boykins District Supervisor Carl Faison — will be held 7 p.m. Monday, April 23, at the county government center in Courtland.

Virginia classifies coyotes as a nuisance species and allows them to be killed 24/7. They cannot be killed with a gun or any other weapon on Sundays.

The county code makes it illegal to hunt anything with a rifle larger than a .22 caliber, except for groundhogs between March 1 and Aug. 31. The county code also prohibits muzzleloader rifles or muzzleloader shotguns loaded with slugs. Shotguns are allowed.

Phillips and Faison indicated that residents who hunt coyotes have asked about using larger-caliber rifles. They claim the coyotes are becoming more of a problem and shooters’ being limited to a .22 caliber makes the animals tougher to hunt.

“We are suggesting our law be changed (to allow for rifles) for groundhogs and coyotes outside the general firearms deer season,” Phillips said. “This will give landowners control over a bigger nuisance and will keep rifles out of the woods when people are deer hunting.”

Southampton County is among six localities that do not allow hunting with rifles, said Lee Walker, outreach director for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries in Richmond. Others are Isle of Wight, Goochland, New Kent and Prince William counties and Virginia Beach.

Rifles are more accurate and most people who hunt coyotes, use rifles, Walker said.

“It’s a much more accurate and a lethal method of being able to take coyotes because they can be taken from a greater range. Coyotes are very leery animals.”

County Attorney Richard Railey noted that Louisa County changed its ordinance, permitting the hunting of coyotes with rifles except during the deer gun season.

“I feel the legislation can be changed (here),” Railey said.