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As coyote woes increase, Halifax crowd gets educated

Coyotes beware. Area farmers, landowners, homeowners and outdoor recreationists are educating themselves about the increasing population of coyotes in the county.

More than 60 concerned citizens attended a seminar Friday night at the Scottsburg Fire Department to learn more about coyotes’ impact to wildlife and agriculture.

Hosted by Virginia Cooperative Extension in cooperation with Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and USDA Wildlife Services department, the coyote seminar provided an overview of coyote biology and behavior from Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Region II Biologist Dan Lovelace.

Lovelace also outlined impacts coyotes are having on Virginia wildlife.

Coyotes are about the size of a medium-sized dog with thick and long hair that varies from blonde, a light reddish-brown grayish black or black. Coyotes are typically seen at dusk but can be spotted any time of the day. Their habitats change depending on where they can find food, according to Virginia Cooperative Extension Agent Jason Fisher. 

Fisher updated those attending on a Virginia Tech research project currently under way.

William Hodges of the United States Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services spoke of the impacts coyotes are making on livestock.

Halifax County Chief Animal Control Officer Todd Moser spoke of impacts his office is seeing on homeowners who have been affected by the encroaching coyote population.

Homeowners can take precautions to prevent coyotes by removing access to unnatural food resources. Do not leave an abundance of pet food outside. Leave enough food for your pet to eat in a short period of time. Secure all lids and cans to outside trashcans.

Larry McPeters of the Halifax Coyote Task Force explained the Halifax bounty currently on coyotes.

McPeters said a 19 percent increase in the harvest of coyotes was shown from 1993 when 1,200 were killed by hunters and 2008-09 when 25,000 were harvested.

He pointed to 13 separate complaints of animals being killed by coyote including numerous reported chickens and ducks, one house dog, four goats, 26 calves, six cows and one cow and one bull being chewed up.

McPeters explained the recently reinstated modified bounty program requires landowners, homeowners, trappers and hunters to become certified by training before collecting a bounty.

Individual bounties of $25 will be paid for coyotes killed in designated areas with the county paying $7.50, the Ward Burton Foundation paying $7.50 and the landowner paying $10 for each coyote killed.

According to law, coyotes may be killed at anytime except coyotes may not be killed with a gun, firearm or other weapon on Sunday.

At the conclusion of the seminar an opportunity was presented for participating in an expert panel discussion. 

Fisher said a second seminar is currently being planned for late August in North Halifax, and once more in September in the southern end of the county. 

Sponsors of the coyote seminar include Scottsburg Volunteer Fire Department, Halifax County Farm Bureau, USDA Wildlife Services, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Virginia Cooperative Extension and Virginia Trappers Association.