I want to tell you folks a bit about coyotes and some of the local men dedicated to keeping their numbers in check. Coyotes generally spend their days in search of food and attacking anything they feel they can consume, including livestock. A non-discriminate predator, Canis latrans way of life, is nothing more than a fiesta of carnage. When they encroach on a person’s property and target their livestock, or family pets, coyotes then become quite problematic.
In recent years, coyotes have become a real problem in agricultural communities around Florida and few measures have been taken by official agencies. Way back in November of 2014, the Florida Wildlife Commission had a community meeting in Orlando to discuss coyotes and how to better coexist with them. The problem is co-existence is only possible when combined with efforts to reduce and control the population. With fur prices in the dumpster, few are motivated to put in the long hours necessary to control their spread.
All of Florida’s counties are confirmed to have coyotes, according to biologists for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Hernando and Citrus Counties are two of the more densely populated counties and reports of livestock being killed and eaten are far too common. Efforts to control coyotes can be expensive and time-consuming for a state agency and therefore none are really stepping up with any real solutions. At this time, there are no state or county funds currently earmarked towards the coyote, a non-native, invasive species.
For a landowner looking to protect his or her property, hunting and trapping are the best tools for dealing with the coyotes. However, the FWC requires difficult to acquire permits for effective traps and snares can be potentially harmful to non-target animals such as domestic dogs, bobcats or foxes. A huge problem is that they are prolific breeders with no natural predators. They reproduce at such a fantastic rate that according to an FWC survey from the 1990’s, an estimated 75 percent of the resident and surrounding coyote population needs to be eradicated every year to effectively control them.
That’s why a pair of local predator hunters have teamed up to assist some of our local ranchers, especially now, during the calving season. Lonnie Beck and Bob Ernstes, have taken coyote hunting to a seriously hi-tech form. They engage the wiley predators at night with some impressive night vision optics and recorded game calls. From the moment the coyotes enter the fields, they’re immediately under surveillance and once they reach a point with a safe background, the gentlemen send them an invitation for a tailgate ride from up to three hundred yards away.
The number of calf lives saved by these two coyote culling artists is clearly unknown, but given the songdog’s track record of calf predation, it’s surely a good many. As always, I’d love to hear about your adventures and maybe see a photo or two of your successes, so drop me a line at [email protected] God bless and Good Hunting!