The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is calling it the Georgia Coyote Challenge where the state is inviting people to hunt or trap coyotes to win a prize. Humane advocates are outraged and call the hunting and trapping of the animals as cruel and absolutely inhumane. The challenge begins in March and goes to the end of August; the winner of the challenge will receive a free lifetime hunting license. On the organization’s website, the details are explained. No guidelines as to the humane killing or trapping of the animals are mentioned:
“Each coyote killed, up to five (5) a month per hunter/trapper, will earn an entry into a monthly drawing for a lifetime license (or equal credit for purchase of hunting/fishing licenses)*.
Currently, scientific research suggests that removal of coyotes during the spring and summer is the most advantageous time to reduce the impact of predation on native wildlife. We want to encourage coyote removal efforts during this critical period.”
For the last ten years, the Atlanta Coyote Project has been documenting and tracking coyotes in the Atlanta area and contend the hunt coincides with pup-rearing season where both the male and female are involved in raising and feeding their offspring. If the killing is initiated and both parents are killed, the puppies will all starve to death or be attacked by other predators. According to the Atlanta Coyote Project’s Facebook, the state agency’s mission is to “sustain, enhance, protect and conserve Georgia’s natural, historic and cultural resources” and to sponsor such a program is reprehensible. Although the Coyote Challenge refers to coyotes as “non-native predators,” and experts agree the animals are relatively recent immigrants into the southeastern United States, coyotes have come to the area because humans have killed all of the native wolves.
“Killing predators leads to unintended ecological consequences. Past efforts to eradicate wolves have clearly shown this,” state the organization.
In addition, the Atlanta Coyote Project states the following:
“Hard data showing that coyotes significantly impact the populations of other wildlife species is scant to nonexistent. Recent studies in South Carolina concluded that the negative impact of coyotes on deer populations is minimal (Kilgo et al., 2016). Secondly, we do not believe that coyote “removal” will reduce the population long-term. More than likely, it will lead to an INCREASE in coyote numbers over time as competition is reduced and a resurgence occurs. To see the ineffectiveness of lethal control as a wildlife management strategy, one needs to look no further than the estimated 70,000 coyotes that are killed each year by the USDA’s Wildlife Services.”
The Atlanta Coyote Project is working with state legislators to ban this type of hunting challenge, which they say other states have done. For more information or to contact the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, click here.
(Photo courtesy of Atlanta Coyote Project)
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