- Chuck Haus says a bounty hunt for coyotes in southeastern
North Dakota has been a success after just two weeks. State officials say
the long-term outlook, based on years of study, shows differently.
Haus and his group, the Richland County Wildlife Club, recently said
they exhausted a $2,100 bounty fund in two weeks when hunters turned in 84
coyotes and collected $25 for each.
"We had an overwhelming response," said Haus, of rural
Hankinson. "It sounds like other clubs around the state are thinking
about doing the same thing."
Bounties once were a popular tool for states to control predator
populations. In North Dakota, the state paid $2.2 million in bounties
between 1898 and 1961 for coyotes, wolves and red fox.
The bounties were discontinued when the state determined they had no
impact on predator numbers, said Randy Kreil, the wildlife division chief
for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
"Bounties are a great way to spend a lot of money and not reduce
the predator population," Kreil said.
Haus said Richland County sportsmen felt a bounty was necessary because
the coyote population has grown in recent years and the predators are
raising havoc with the area's deer and pheasants.
"We felt like we had to do something to make it an issue, that
this is a problem," Haus said. "We've had calls from all over
the state wondering what we're doing. Some people have actually driven
here to hunt them."
The Richland County Wildlife Club is planning to offer a bounty on
coyotes again next year, Haus said.
"We know bounties don't work," Kreil said. "That's why
the state hasn't supported bounties in decades."
Kreil lists a number of biological reasons why bounties fail to reduce
coyote numbers. Topping the list is the fact that female coyotes will have
larger litters if there is a significant decrease in the population, he
Kreil said the Game and Fish Department once looked into reducing the
coyote population in the North Dakota's Badlands in hopes of increasing
the lambing success of bighorn sheep. The study found the state would have
to reduce the coyote population by two-thirds a year, every year, to make
"Once you stopped, you'd lose everything you'd gained," Kreil
said. "It wasn't realistic."
Kreil said that if there are fewer deer in the southeastern part of the
state, the reason would likely be the significant increase in the number
of deer licenses issued by the Game and Fish Department over the past
several years to try to reduce the deer herd.
Minnesota legislators are considering a bill that would allow counties
to offer coyote bounties. As in North Dakota, the animal is considered a
furbearer and hunting season is open year-around.
Coyotes have multiplied in western Minnesota after an increase in
grasslands as well as a rise in the population of mice, voles and other
prey species, said Department of Natural Resources area wildlife manager
Dave Soehren of Appleton. Commissioners in Swift County have asked for a
Echoing Kreil, Soehren said there is a reason coyote bounties have been
obsolete in Minnesota since 1965.
"They are an outmoded system for dealing with predators,"
Soehren said. "They do nothing to affect the population."