Hunting coyotes with rifles to resurface

Published 11:43 am Saturday, February 23, 2013

COURTLAND—Southampton County Capron District Supervisor Bruce Phillips will ask the board to revisit whether or not to allow the use of higher-caliber rifles to hunt coyotes.

“I’ve had several calls,” Phillips said Friday. “Certainly some favor it and others are opposed for various reasons.”

He would like to see it on the agenda for the 7 p.m. Monday, March 25, board meeting.

Southampton County supervisors in June delayed taking action on the proposal introduced about a year ago by Phillips and Boykins/Branchville District Supervisor Carl Faison.

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 Faison indicated that residents who hunt coyotes had 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 would give landowners control over a nuisance while keeping rifles out of the woods when people are deer hunting.

Newsoms District Supervisor Glenn Updike favors the proposal, noting that three years ago he lost 30 lambs and 14 geese to coyotes.

“Anything we can do to reduce the coyote population will be a benefit to all citizens,” Updike said. “Coyotes are deadly on cats, small dogs, and any small animals, and the population is increasing.”

He believes any advantage for hunters could help control the population.

“You gotta be an expert (shot),” Updike said. “Even the hunt clubs and hunters will say ‘I saw a coyote, I shot him and missed.’ They are fast, quick and smart, and will hang around the edge of the woods.”

Drewryville District Supervisor Dallas Jones favors the proposal with restrictions, including no Sunday hunting or hunting around churches or schools.

“Either way, I don’t know how to get rid of coyotes,” Jones said. “Some solve it by bounty. That doesn’t seem to work.”

Coyotes can be hunted 24/7 except on Sundays, according to state law.

If supervisors approve hunting coyotes with rifles, nothing could be implemented until after the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries sets regulations, which is normally done in May.