Response to Wildlife killing contests despicable

A few years ago I saw a PBS documentary about coyotes and coywolves, an eastern wolf-coyote cross. Other than man, coyotes are about the most successful species out there. The city of Chicago is supposed to have about 2,000 of them. They are very smart and stay out of sight. Most people would have no idea how many there are. My neighbor, a sheep farmer, trapped one of the first ones around here. That was in 1985. It was so unusual that it made the local newspaper.

If you look in plat books you will find that in 1978 there was 160 acres of permanent conservation acres in the 72 square miles of Hope and Lake Benton Townships of Lincoln County. Now the DNR, US Fish and Wildlife, Ducks Unlimited, and Nature Conservatory have 2,824 permanent conservation acres. RIM, which is also permanent, and long-term CRP are not included in that total. This is a statewide phenomenon. Permanent conservation acres are up all over in Minnesota. The conservation acres which have made good habitat for game species have also made perfect coyote habitat.

In years with open, snowless winters it is really hard to hunt coyotes. They are camouflaged and hide really well. The coyote population is only limited when the food supply is eaten up. That means pheasants, fawns, my free-range chickens, turkeys, and Muscovy ducks are gone. Two neighbors that are sheep farmers had dead sheep. One had 14 in one year. They are reluctant to have guard dogs because of liability issues. We have a cattle building where our Muscovy ducks used to do a good job controlling flies in the summer and a man would buy them in the fall to take them to the Hmong.

We currently have 45 pheasants in our grove, the most since the early 1960s. We have 12 colorful free-range chickens. We see fawns and their mom in our back yard regularly in the summer and the fall. Recently we have not had coyote poop outside our door or coyotes waking us up at night. Controlling coyotes is a quality of life issue. I am sure that when we have at least two open winters resulting in poor hunting conditions the fawns, pheasants, and chickens will disappear and the neighbor will complain of dead sheep and loss of livelihood.

Through the self imposed Land and Legacy sales tax the state is willing to pay millions of dollars to get more land for habitat. They have already done it. I say write your legislator to put a $100 bounty on coyotes. $100 times 10,000 coyotes equals $1,000,000. Think of what removing 10,000 coyotes would temporarily do for game populations and livestock people. To be effective, a bounty would have to be permanent. States to the west of us help control coyotes in sheep areas. Increasing habitat is a no win game if you do not control predators.

I personally will not shoot foxes. They are few in number around here. The coyotes have displaced them.

— Alan Roelofs is a Lincoln County resident

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