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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s controversial coyote bounty program continues to rack up huge numbers. In a recently released report, the Division of Wildlife Resources said that 7,041 coyotes were turned in for the $50 reward in 2014. While that’s just shy of last year’s tally, more people participated in 2014, so the program appears to have maintained its momentum.
The DWR introduced the bounties in 2012 as a method for reducing the state’s coyote population, which in turn would benefit the deer herds on which they prey. Officially known as the Predator Control Program, the ambitious program pays hunters $50 for every coyote they kill. The New York Times has described it as “one of the nation’s largest hunter-based efforts to manage predatory wildlife.”
Each bounty is paid from a fund established by the Mule Deer Protection Act. A certain amount of money is set aside each year for the bounties and hunters have yet to come close to tapping it out.
To claim the reward, hunters must document when and where each coyote was killed and bring the animal’s scalp and lower jaw to one of the DWR’s check-in sites across the state.
Opponents contend that the program has no effect on deer herds, causes ecological problems and is a waste of state resources.
Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, has referred to the Predator Control Program as “ecologically reckless, economically unjustifiable and ethically reprehensible.”
According to Fox, most government agencies concede that coyote bounties are ineffective at reducing coyote populations. In fact, some research suggests that the systematic killing of coyotes actually increases reproduction, immigration and survival.
With scores of loyal supporters and ardent critics, the Predator Control Program will undoubtedly continue to be a hotly contested aspect of wildlife management in Utah.
Grant Olsen joined the KSL.com contributor team in 2012. He covers outdoor adventures, travel, product reviews and other interesting things. You can contact him at email@example.com.