Thursday, 09 November 2017 06:37

Roadrunners beware: No worries about coyote population

Written by  Jamie Rieger
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Take a drive into the country and it doesn’t take long before one can spot a coyote or two, or a group of coyotes.


Often seen as a predator that will kill a farmer’s calves, the coyote is hunted and trapped as a mechanism to control their population, reduce losses to their herds, and in the case of trapping particularly, as a way to make a few bucks for their pelts.
Joel Nicholson, senior wildlife biologist for Alberta Fish and Wildlife said that while his department does not do active monitoring of coyote population numbers, there always seems to be an abundance throughout southern Alberta.
“Coyote populations are not formally something we monitor, but there are lots out there and coyotes are extremely resilient. If they are harvested, they can rebuild pretty quickly,” said Nicholson. “But, we have no concerns here about the coyote population.”
According to Alberta Trappers’ Association’s Furbearer Management registration information for the 2016-17 season, 34,264 coyotes were trapped, down from 44,607 from the previous year. The fur production based on export permits for 2016-17 showed an average price of $80.03 with an economic value in Alberta of $2,742,148.
“With those numbers, you can see how resilient they are,” said Nicholson. “It seems the fur prices are high enough for there to be interest for trapping.”
Jason Storch, Ag. Fieldman for Cypress County and Dave Matz, Ag. Fieldman for the County of Forty Mile both indicated that they have not heard any complaints from producers in their areas, but there have been reports of reduced numbers in the Manyberries area because of overtrapping. Nicholson noted that Fish and Wildlife has not had a trapping program in the Manyberries area for two to three years.
“We were only using resident trappers and it was discontinued because of the low numbers in that area,” he said.
Gladys Stryker, who farms with her husband, Will, in the area said that farther west of the Sage Grouse protected area and along Highway 501, the gopher population has skyrocketed because of fewer coyotes in the area.
“They have overtrapped here and now there is an over-balance. That is what happens when you take one thing out of the equation,” said Stryker.
LeRay Pahl, who ranches in the Bowell area, said that with the elk hunt commencing, the coyotes will have plenty to feast on.
"There is lots of carrion around for them. They do catch rabbits and will come into the yard to eat the dog food. They are pretty good at cleaning out the carrion," said Pahl, who noted that he did lose a calf to a coyote about four or five years ago.

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