Coyote numbers down in N.S., trappers say
Trappers say the number of coyotes is down in Nova Scotia since last year when the provincial government began paying $20 per pelt to encourage them to go after the animals.
"The numbers that they're getting this year are down," Gary Fisher, president of the Trappers Association of Nova Scotia, said.
"The area where I trapped four coyotes last year, I only caught one coyote this year. Right at the moment, there's no other coyotes in that area."
But it appears there is no simple connection between the bounty and what appears to be a lower coyote population. So far, wild life biologists with the provincial Natural Resources Department can't back that up scientifically.
But, for Fisher the evidence is pretty clear — there are no tracks and no scat and foxes have moved back into the area where he traps in Cumberland County.
"Once coyotes move into an area, they push the fox population out," Fisher said, "and with the coyotes not there, the foxes have moved back in."
Fisher said he is hearing similar stories from other trappers. "I'm hearing from trappers that I know that have caught large numbers last year," he said.
But so far nobody is connecting the dots between subsidies paid to trappers to offset low fur prices and what seems to be fewer coyotes.
"No, I think it's too simple of an answer at the moment. We're still collecting carcasses for the department," Fisher said.
If there is a decline province-wide, there could be lots of reasons, he said, including a cyclical drop in the rabbit populations, or in other sources of food.
The bounty was introduced in 2010 to control aggressive coyotes. Trappers turned in 2,600 pelts that year. The bounty was worth about $50,000 to the more than 300 trappers who turned them in over a five and half month period.
There have been numerous reports of aggressive coyotes since October 2009, when a Toronto hiker was killed in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.