YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When discussing ways to deal with wildlife predators, some hunters proposed an idea — but not everyone thinks it’s a good one.
To control the predator populations — especially coyotes — the possibility of holding a predator tournament was suggested. Hunters and trappers would compete for prize money to kill or capture the most and biggest coyotes. There are also a set of rules describing entry fees and payouts.
But one wildlife activist is questioning the ethics of hunting for competition.
President of the local Audubon Society Jeff Harvey said he doesn’t think anyone should be paid for killing coyotes or other predators.
“So we’ve finally brought predators back in and now all of a sudden, there’s this idea that we need now to kill them off.”
Dennis Malloy, with Whitetails Unlimited — one of the groups sponsoring the predator tournament — said such competitions are legal. The hunting of coyotes is year-round in Ohio and Pennsylvania — all you need is a hunting license.
Malloy said coyotes are a problem for farmers.
“They’ll talk about the calves that they’ve lost. They’ll talk about the chickens, the new precautions they have to take.”
Harvey said he has no problem hunting a coyote if it’s killing farm animals.
Eric Barrett, with the Mahoning County Extension Service, said he doesn’t know of any problems recently between coyotes and farmers.
Jamey Emmert, with the Ohio Division of Wildlife, called the predator tournament a bounty system. She said the Division of Wildlife does not support hunting for bounties and that it isn’t the best option for controlling something like the coyote population.
But Malloy said this is not a bounty.
“What this is is an awareness thing.”
Harvey wants to know what the basis is for the hunt.
He said statistics from the Division of Wildlife show the coyote population in Ohio growing since 1990 but falling in the past few years. Coyote distribution in Ohio shows it’s low in Mahoning County and medium in Trumbull and Columbiana counties.
According to the Division of Wildlife, no comprehensive study has been done on coyotes in Northeast Ohio.
“Why the coyote hunt when coyotes can be good for controlling small rodents and deer populations?” Harvey questioned.
So the reason?
“Being that hunters don’t hunt coyotes anymore or don’t trap, they’re trying to learn. We’re trying to encourage them to get out and hunt because if not, we have no predators for coyotes,” Malloy said.
He said the only people who will dislike the idea of a predator tournament are those who are against hunting altogether.
“They’re the same people that probably don’t like seeing a deer head on a wall, the same people that don’t like seeing a raccoon in a trap.”
The predator tournament is not a definite — it’s still being discussed.