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Opposed to MI DNR Proposal for "Liberalized" Nighttime Coyote-Hunting Allowances

posted Feb 29, 2016, 1:15 PM by Scott Slocum   [ updated May 16, 2016, 8:37 AM ]

Update: 4/27/2016

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission expanded nighttime hunting for coyotes, opossum and raccoons as proposed.

Matheny, Keith. 2016. "State Approves Year-Round Coyote Hunt in Michigan." Detroit Free Press. April 27. http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2016/04/26/state-approves-year-round-coyote-hunt-michigan/83553624/.


2/29/2015

To: Michigan Natural Resources Commission (Cheryl Nelson, nelsonc@michigan.gov)

From: Scott Slocum

Re: Opposed to the proposal to liberalize night-time coyote-hunting regulations.

I am writing in opposition to "Wildlife Conservation Order: Amendment 4 of 2016," which would extend the Michigan daytime and night-time coyote-hunting seasons, and expand the season in which artificial lights may be used at night.

[I had missed a third change due to my misunderstanding of the meaning of the font-strikeout and bolding of old and new language, respectively, on the amended Wildlife Conservation Order. The third change was to allow larger shot in shotguns in night-time hunting. Two larger sizes of shot were allowed: #4 and #3 buckshot.]

I understand that the public has the opportunity to write in about this subject ahead of the 3/10/2016 meeting of the Natural Resources Commission.


Problems with the expansion of night-time hunting

Even with powerful spotlights, hunters have poorer views of 1) their targets, and 2) what lies beyond them.

The first problem (poor identification of targets at night) is that it would be likely to result in an increase in the incidental shooting of wolves and domestic dogs, due to hunters' reduced ability to distinguish them from coyotes.

The second problem (poor identification of what lies beyond the targets at night) is shown in the current regulations, which limit the size of shot in order to limit the damage that might be done in unseen areas beyond the targets. That says something about the danger of shooting at night. It also says something about the willingness of the MI DNR to allow the use of loads with less power to deliver quick, humane kills of coyotes. [In other words, the proposed allowance for larger shot would make night hunting even more dangerous.]


Problems with lengthening the duration of the hunting seasons

Hunting ethics generally call for hunting seasons to end before the mating season, in order to avoid the inhumane starving of infant and young wildlife orphans. This humane concern should apply to all animals, even if some special-interest groups feel it should not be extended to coyotes.

Wolves are harder to distinguish from coyotes when they're young.

Many dog owners are already avoiding coyote-hunting areas in season for fear of incidental shootings of their dogs. By extending the season, those dog owners would be further stressed and deprived of the pleasure of their outdoor recreation with their dogs.


Problems with pursuing an ineffective management strategy

The 2/16/2016 cover letter correctly points out that the proposed liberalization would not be expected to have "significant biological impact" in lowering the overall coyote population long-term. It neglects to mention the likely negative impacts of responses of the coyote population to the increased hunting: increased reproductive rate, and in areas with sheep, increased livestock depredation. The proposed liberalization is thus not justified in terms of overall wildlife management.


Conclusion

The proposed liberalization has many problems and few benefits. It would fail to benefit the general public interest, and would be likely to be contrary to it. Apparently, the only interest it would serve would be that of the predator-caller association and the industries and members it represents. It's a bad idea.



Michigan Department of Natural Resources letterhead.