IOW mulling offering bounties on coyotes

Published 11:00 am Friday, January 11, 2013

The howling of coyotes in Isle of Wight County is being heard more often. Supervisor Rex Alphin has asked the staff to look into the feasibility of creating a bounty program to reduce the varmints’ population. -- SUBMITTED


ISLE OF WIGHT—While recognizing offering a bounty would not eradicate the nuisance of coyotes in Isle of Wight County, Carrsville District Supervisor Rex Alphin has asked staff to research into the feasibility.

A report requested in December is anticipated by board’s meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, at the courthouse.

“In the rural areas, we have seen an increase in sightings,” Alphin said. “No doubt their population is increasing. Often I can see them even in daylight. We hear them a lot more at night. Hunt clubs are killing more.”

Known for preying on chickens, goats, sheep, newborn calves and pets, coyotes are nocturnal and hunt in packs, said Aaron Proctor, regional wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.

One of the first questions that needs answering is whether or not a bounty would be effective, Alphin said. He wants to find out what’s worked and what’s not for people in the western part of Virginia where coyotes are a bigger problem.

“I know there’s no magic bullet. It’s impossible to eradicate them,” said Alphin, who wants the county to at least limit the varmints’ population.

Proctor said the Eastern coyote averages 30 to 35 pounds, though they can sometimes get up to 50 pounds.

“What usually gets people’s dander up is that sportsmen feel that coyotes are strongly tied to a lower population of deer and turkeys,” he said, emphasizing again the threat of preying on pets.

Because coyotes, like black bears, are so shy of humans, the attacks on people are very rare, said Proctor.

There’s not a documented case of bounties eradicating the coyotes in any part of the country, he said.

“But what bounties can give is an incentive to control problem animals. If Isle of Wight wants to create a bounty, there’s no problem as long as it doesn’t conflict with our laws,” said Proctor.

He added that coyotes can be hunted day or night year around, except Sundays.

For more information, Proctor recommends visiting, and go to the category of Wildlife Information, then Nuisance and Problem Wildlife.