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Governor urged to end state's bounty on coyotes

A coalition of more than 25 wildlife and animal protection organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States, delivered letters Tuesday, June 19, urging Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to cancel the “Georgia Coyote Challenge.”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the Humane Society of the United States and other groups recently sent letters urging Gov. Nathan Deal to cancel the event

During the six-month period from March to August the challenge offers Georgia residents the chance to win a lifetime hunting license.

Residents enter to win the license by providing photo evidence of having killed a coyote. Individuals are allowed to submit up to 10 entries, each representing one coyote killed.

It’s the second year that the challenge has been offered. Last year Georgia residents killed 195 coyote.

“Scientific evidence does not support the notion that indiscriminately killing coyotes through events such as the Georgia Coyote Challenge is an effective wildlife management practice,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, a national organization based in Marin County, Calif..

The contest also encourages an unethical attitude, she said. “We are beyond killing animals for prizes and fun,” she told National Public Radio. “This should be part of our history books.”

Christopher Mowry, associate professor of biology at Berry College and director of the Atlanta Coyote Project, said “wildlife killing contests are antithetical to responsible hunting ethics.”

John Bowers, chief of game management for Georgia Wildlife Resources Division of Georgia Department of Natural Resources, said population control is not the point of the Coyote Challenge.

“The purpose is to complement and highlight the existing lethal removal of coyotes by hunters and trappers,” he said. “They can do that year round.”

Bowers said coyote removal is a part of game management. 

“If I’m managing my property for wildlife, for deer or turkeys, and I’ve got an abundance of coyote on my property then those coyote need to be managed, too,” he said. “This is the time period. March through August is the best time period to lethally remove coyotes.”

Patrick Wiley, manager at The Outdoor Depot on John Morrow Parkway in Gainesville, said that coyote control is important during the whitetail deer’s fawning season, which is in the late spring and early summer.

“(Deer) become very vulnerable this time of year to coyote predation,” Wiley said.

Wiley, who does not personally participate in the challenge, said turkeys, rabbits and other small game are also susceptible to coyote attacks.

Coyotes are seen more and more often in urban as well as rural areas, including throughout the city of Atlanta.

Just before last year’s Coyote Challenge a Roswell man was attacked on his morning run by a rabid coyote.

Other states have sparked protests with similar contests, including Utah, which stages a yearly World Championship Coyote Calling Contest, in which participants try to kill as many coyote as possible in 48 hours.

Staff reporter Megan Reed contributed to this story.

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