Mostly Trapping

Outdoor Journal: Coyotes and Predator Control
Jan 24, 2019 17:34 ET
Comments: Part 2 is the link above (

Part 1 can be found here:

TEXT for Part 1:
Coyote bounties and predator control in Missouri
I don't remember how I acquired the coyote. I don't remember if I took in the whole carcass or just the ears as was optional. Whatever evidence I had, I took to the County Clerk in Caldwell County where I lived. I do remember the check. It was probably three or so by eight or nine inches, fairly large. It looked like it was right out of an old western movie. It had bank note style design and was hand signed by Mayo J. Anderson, County Clerk, Caldwell County for the sum of $5.00. It was an official bounty paid by the county for one dead coyote. Mayo had excellent flowing penmanship, even though he was missing fingers on his right hand as the result of corn picker accident. I'd give more than $5.00 to have that check today just to have it framed. My best guess on the year was 1969 or 1970, when I collected my one and only bounty check.

Since 1825 the State of Missouri had been waging war against wolves,

coyotes and bobcats by allowing county courts to pay bounties on these species,

with financial help through legislative appropriations. In 1936, the Missouri Department of Conservation was created. Wanting to base wildlife management decisions on science, the furbearer research biologist began his annual survey of bountied animals.

By 1973, the State had spent over $2,000,000 to kill slightly more than 200,000 coyotes, without causing any apparent decrease in the overall coyote population. Between 1973 and 1976, the Missouri legislature failed to appropriate funds for bounties, and all but a relatively few Missouri counties had by then discontinued bounty payments for coyotes and bobcats.

So bounties failed to reduce the number of coyote damage complaints or even slow down the growing number of coyotes in the state and faded into history when the legislature stopped funding them. But coyotes were still around, still killing pigs and chickens and sheep.

For 14 years starting in 1923, the US Fish and Wildlife Service funded a government trapper program. As with most government programs, it ran out of money and was too slow in assisting with problems. We will continue with Missouri's history of predator control next week.

TEXT for Part 2:
Last time we covered the period in Missouri where bounties were paid on coyotes. After several years of research by the Department of Conservation that had been formed in 1936, the Missouri legislature decided to stop appropriating money to Missouri's counties to pay coyote bounties. The goal of controlling coyote populations by encouraging the public to kill them hadn't produced the desired results. Even the practice of digging up coyotes in their dens and killing the pups for bounties had been encouraged, but still the coyotes persisted and helped themselves to pigs, chickens, sheep and other livestock.

In 1971, there were 141,000 farms in Missouri. It was estimated at the time, that uncontrolled predator losses could run as high as 15 to 25 million dollars annually. That figured out to about 2% of Missouri's overall agricultural production; a problem of some significance.

When the US Fish and Wildlife Service trapping program proved inadequate, a different method was employed for a while. In Dan Dickniete's 1973, A BRIEF HISTORY OF EXTENSION PREDATOR CONTROL IN MISSOURI, he says, “For a short time a coyote hunter who used dogs was hired to answer some of the complaints of damage in counties that the government trappers could not service. He would organize interested groups of farmers and sportsmen, locate animals and drive them towards men stationed with guns at coyote crossings. While this technique had much public appeal and afforded a spectacular performance, it failed to reduce reported damage to any significant extent.” I expect a good time was had by all while the hunt was going on. Similar coyote drives were organized by local groups and occasionally involved a big social gathering afterwords.

The dog hunters service was provided free for a year and a half, but when it was proposed to share the cost 50/50 with the counties, no counties were interested.

Next week we will talk about the extension trapping program that finally gave landowners a tool that helped.