2,600 coyote pelts snared in N.S. bounty year
Trappers in Nova Scotia harvested 2,643 coyote pelts — nearly 1,000 more than the last year — under a bounty program to target aggressive animals.
The 366 trappers were paid $20 per pelt, for a total of $52,860, the Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday.
The bounty program ran during the regular trapping season, from October to April. In order to get paid, licensed trappers had to show their pelts were properly shipped to markets.
Eldon Graham, who lives near Stewiacke, said he trapped 79 coyotes this year — his best year ever. But he said he had to work harder and longer to get the animals.
"It's hard going out there. I'm telling you, they're hard to get," Graham told CBC News.
"You've got to use every trick in the book."
Graham said he got about $33 a pelt from the fur market. The extra money from the province helped pay his expenses.
"I would do it even if there wasn't any bounty but I like the bounty because it helps me a little bit for gas," he said, laughing.
The Department of Natural Resources doesn't know how many coyotes were trapped overall. Those pelt numbers are expected in a few months.
Last year, without the bounty, 268 licensed trappers harvested and exported a total of 1,736 pelts. The total number of coyotes trapped was 2,269.
Breakdown by region:
Central (Cumberland to Antigonish to Halifax) – 1,430 pelts.
Eastern (Cape Breton) – 460 pelts.
Western (Annapolis to Yarmouth to Lunenburg) – 753 pelts.
The province introduced the $20 bounty after a series of coyote encounters, including an attack that killed a 19-year-old singer in Cape Breton.
In October 2009, Taylor Mitchell was hiking the Skyline Trail near Cheticamp when she was attacked by two coyotes. She died later in hospital. Both animals were destroyed.
In announcing the $20 bounty last spring, Natural Resources Minister John MacDonell said as many as 4,000 of an estimated 8,000 coyotes could be killed.
Department officials are reviewing the numbers to determine if the pelt bounty program will continue next year.
The bounty was part of a four-part plan by the Department of Natural Resources to reduce aggressive coyote behaviour:
- A $20 pelt incentive for professional trappers to harvest coyotes.
- Training 15 trappers to target aggressive coyotes.
- Hiring a wildlife biologist specialist to focus on human wildlife conflict.
- Enhancing education about avoiding coyotes.
Bruce Nunn, a spokesman for the department, said Wednesday the province trained 13 trappers to target aggressive coyotes. Since April 2010, when the program began, there were 19 incidents and 32 coyotes were removed by those trained trappers.
The Department of Natural Resources would not say where those animals were killed or give a break down by county. Nunn said the incidents were in various parts of the province.
Each claim about a coyote must be verified by department staff and in some cases, staff members aren't sent out to the locations. The 19 incidents were cases where Department of Natural Resources staff investigated a claim, then called in one of the trappers.