Southampton again delays voting on coyote hunting

Published 9:38 am Friday, June 29, 2012

COURTLAND—Southampton County supervisors on Monday delayed taking action until March on whether or not to allow the use of higher-caliber rifles to hunt coyotes.

Capron District Supervisor Bruce Phillips said he understands the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is looking at coyote hunting statewide.

“If the game commission comes up with an ordinance, we would be satisfied with, (we could consider that),” Phillips said.

Supervisors agreed to revisit the matter if the state does not take action.

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

Phillips and Boykins/Branchville District Supervisor Carl 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 make the animals tougher to hunt.

They suggested the county law be changed to allow for rifles for groundhogs and coyotes outside the general firearms deer season. They feel this will give landowners control over a nuisance while keeping rifles out of the woods when people are deer hunting.

If they had approved it, hunting coyotes could not begin until mid-2013 because the matter would require approval from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Board when it meets next May.

Lee Walker, spokesman for the Department of Game in Richmond, said Thursday he is unaware of changes under consideration for coyote hunting.

“We don’t regulate county ordinances and already offer liberal (laws when it comes to hunting) coyotes,” Walker said. “They are a nuisance and can be taken any method it takes to get them. It would still be a county decision to allow rifles.”

Coyotes can be hunted 24/7 except on Sundays.

Even if supervisors acted on the matter sooner, nothing could be implemented until after May 1 when the Department of Game sets regulations.