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Coyote hunt returns to area this weekend

MARSHALL — It’s shaping up to be a cold, snowy weekend, but some area hunters are still planning to spend it outdoors. Organizers for the Buffalo Ridge Coyote Hunting Tournament said Thursday that the event has drawn some pre-registered participants so far.

The annual coyote hunt is scheduled to start this evening, and runs until Saturday evening, when hunters must check in their coyotes.

Organizers said Thursday that hunters might see the snow forecast for today as a good thing. The fresh snow makes it easier to see animals and tracks, and lets hunters move more quietly.

While the hunt is organized in the Marshall area, the event has a reach into a wider area. Hunt organizers said participants may hunt anywhere in Minnesota. However, they must follow Minnesota Department of Natural Resources rules and regulations. Other hunt rules include that trapping animals, or using dogs or motorized vehicles to chase animals, are not allowed.

Prizes are being offered for the coyote hunting tournament, including cash prizes for the smallest and largest coyote brought in.

Last year’s tournament registered a total harvest of 25 coyotes, according to a post on the Buffalo Ridge Coyote Hunt’s Facebook page.

Coyote hunting contests have drawn controversy in Minnesota. At the Jan. 8 meeting of the Marshall City Council, both council member Craig Schafer and Marshall Mayor Bob Byrnes said they had received e-mails critical of the hunt, although the city of Marshall is not involved with organizing the event. Kathy Coughlin, an Oak Grove resident, wrote a column calling for the end of “wildlife killing contests,” which was published in the Independent last week.

Coyotes are not a protected species in Minnesota, and a license isn’t required to hunt them. According to information on the Minnesota DNR’s website, an estimated 4,000 coyotes statewide are shot or trapped each year.

It isn’t known exactly how many coyotes live in southwest Minnesota, but populations have grown over time, said Dan Ruiter, southern region information officer for the Minnesota DNR. There could be a variety of reasons why, including changes in wolf populations statewide. Coyotes and wolves don’t usually get along, Ruiter said. As wolf populations declined in much of Minnesota, coyote populations gradually rose in those areas.

“Coyotes are very adaptable animals,” Ruiter said. They live in a range of habitats across Minnesota.

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