Mostly Trapping

Trapper: Coyotes have been turned into villains but agrees management is necessary
Mar 28, 2019 07:38 ET

(Reprinted from above link)

GAMBO, N.L. — Max Pike has been trapping coyotes in the eastern end of central Newfoundland for going on a decade.
Gambo trapper feels the predator gets a bit of a bad rap.
“In some situations, there’s an illegitimate fear of coyotes, they’re kind of villainized,” Pike said.

“They’re animals, they have to eat just like anything else.”

Pike’s first catch was a young male coyote about 15 kilometres outside the Bonavista Bay town about eight years ago.

Given the illusive nature of the species, by minimizing the human scent, removing footprints, handling snares with gloves and a series of other approaches, he’s been averaging five coyotes per season – Nov. 1 through Feb. 1 – since he started.

He sets 40 snares annually, all of which are designed to act as humanely as possible.

Rapid spread

According to the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources, the invasive species was first reported near the Port au Port Peninsula in 1985, and by the mid-1990s coyotes were confirmed throughout most of the island.

There are currently more than 4,000 coyotes on the island of Newfoundland, Fisheries and Land Resources indicated in an emailed statement to The Central Voice.

Coyotes have been confirmed in southern Labrador, as well, and will likely continue their range expansion further north through Labrador.

Carcass collection results from 2004 to 2012 indicates about 80 per cent of the food coyotes consume is composed of three species: caribou, moose (carrion) and hares. Other foods include voles, squirrels, birds, fox, berries and garbage.

“Most of the caribou coyotes kill are old animals, although (caribou) calf collaring activities confirm that coyotes also kill caribou calves,” the email read. “It’s believed that moose meat observed in coyotes’ stomachs comes from carrion scavenged from hunter kill-site remains, and natural moose deaths in winter. The number of caribou kills by coyotes observed by biologists during survey work has declined markedly in recent years.”

To manage the species, the department has a collection in place to continue monitoring coyotes on the island, and will pay hunters and trappers $25 for each carcass submitted.

Returns from those submissions – from 2003 to 2012 – have indicated most trapped coyotes are pups and yearlings.

The Department has also determined coyotes can live up to 15 years, and litter sizes average seven pups per female.

“In recent years, an average of 500 coyotes have been trapped per year, but given the high reproductive rate of coyotes, reducing their numbers on a large landscape like the island of Newfoundland is very difficult,” the email continued.

“Placing a bounty on coyotes as a way to increase other wildlife populations has had limited to no success in other jurisdictions.”

Kept in check

By Pike’s summation, coyote populations in the eastern end of the region appear stable.

“I haven’t noticed any major increases or decrease,” he said of area coyote populations.

Pike said he hasn’t seen much of an ecological impact as a result of coyotes either, as the observation of stomach contents point to small mammals – fowl, mice, shrews and birds.

Still, he feels coyote numbers have to be kept in check.

“Should we control their population? Most definitely,” he said. “But it’s not a species we have to completely wipe out. They are here to stay and we have to manage them.”