Coyotes must be controlled

Some people may find it difficult to comprehend, but the first month of 2017 has come and gone. Many adults are now asking each other, “Where has all the time gone?”

When I was online last weekend, it looked like everyone was getting ready for the appearance of either French Creek Freddie or Punxsutawney Phil. From the looks of things we are going to have at least six more weeks of winter. In spite of the cold weather we are having this week, Randolph County has not had a rough winter this year.

In good weather, the trout stocking trucks are rolling. Sportsmen and women need to keep in mind that several of the small game hunting seasons don’t go out until Feb. 28,  like cottontail rabbit, ruffed grouse, snowshoe hare and squirrel, to name a few. While I have not done any serious trout fishing in several years, I have had two anglers tell me that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources has stocked some nice-sized trout on Shavers Fork about two miles downstream from the Stuart Park area.

This past Monday, winter was showing itself in Randolph County. The county schools were closed and more bitter cold weather is in the forecast this weekend.

Just about all hunters have cleaned up their guns and archery gear and put them away for a while. For the winter hunters who are not ready to let some snow or cold weather get in their way, here is one activity they should enjoy.

Last weekend, the first organized West Virginia Coyote Hunt was held. It was run from noon Saturday to noon Sunday. Hunters across the state checked in at Cabela’s Sporting Goods Store in South Charleston and then hunted coyotes for the 24-hour period.

Organizers of this special hunt say their goal is to educate and show the public that coyotes need to be hunted regularly in order to keep their population under control. Coyotes prey on a wide range of animals which include deer, turkey, small farm animals and household pets. In this state, coyotes have no natural predator and this is the problem.

From the reports I have received, approximately 500 hunters participated in this special hunt, which included a few from out of state. During the 24-hour hunt, about 40 coyotes were killed and nearly $11,000 worth of prizes were awarded.

Coyote calling and hunting is a new sport that is becoming a favorite among varmint hunters in this state. In West Virginia, coyote hunters can hunt these critters at night using artificial light or with the latest night vision technology from Jan. 1 through July 31.

During the winter, most coyote packs have established their territory and keeping food in their stomachs is a priority. In February, food sources are dwindling and they must continue to hunt to simply stay alive.

A coyote hunter using a predator call that resembles the distress cry of a rabbit would be an easy way to bring in a few of these rascals, especially if they are hungry. In West Virginia, it is legal to use electronic calls when hunting these varmints.

The Humane Society of West Virginia highly condemned this organized hunt by referring to it as a “blood bath.” They released a statement saying the event sends a message to youth that “killing is fun.” They also said “slaughtering animals for thrills and prizes is unethical and out of step with the current understanding of the ecosystem and the important role each species plays within the system.”


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