Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Coyote regulations

I've gotten several questions about hunting coyotes in Washington state, or in snohomish county. So this post is the regulations related to hunting or trapping coyotes. I'm offering this as my opinion, but I'm not an attorney and this is not legal advice; for that you'll have to find someone with a credential.

Your best defense

First, your best defense against coyotes is to secure your animals at night. Although coyote predation does occur in the daytime, it's pretty rare. it is actually pretty hard to make a coyote-proof fence -- they will dig under it, and they can jump a 7 foot fence if it doesn't have a coyote roller on top of it.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (wdfw) has a good publication with pictures showing fencing ideas and other notes about coyotes here.

You may not be able to fence

If you are in the flood plain of any river, you are not allowed to build the sorts of fences required to exclude coyotes, or you may not be able to afford them. In Snohomish county, you are only allowed to build a 3 strand barbed wire fence or a 3 strand electric fence, neither one of which will exclude coyotes. Your second choice is to confine your animals every day, which may or may not be practical.

Regulations related to killing coyotes

First, check here to make sure that you're actually looking at a coyote. Wolves are protected, you can't kill them legally in Washington state.

WDFW says that a hunting or trapping license is required to take coyote here. The exception to this requirement is when you, a tenant or employee are hunting on your own property. Here's the quote:

"The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife does not classify coyotes as game animals, but a state license is required to hunt or trap them (RCW 77.32.010). The owner, the owner's immediate family, employee, or a tenant of real property may kill or trap a coyote on that property if it is damaging crops or domestic animals (RCW 77.36.030). A license is not required in such cases. Check with your county and/or local jurisdiction for local restrictions. Except for bona fide public or private zoological parks, persons and entities are prohibited from importing a coyote into Washington State without a permit from the Department of Agriculture and written permission from the Department of Health. Persons and entities are also prohibited from acquiring, selling, bartering, exchanging, giving, purchasing, or trapping a coyote for a pet or export (WAC 246-100-191)."

Your location may have restrictions on firearms use

If you live in an incorporated city or town, there may be restrictions that you'll need to know about. You can generally ask an attorney to research this for you. Calling a local police department can get you an answer, but there's some chance that the officer you talk to doesn't know himself, and if there's a misunderstanding between you and the local police, it's generally not in your favor. If you live on land that is unincorporated, not part of any town or city, the chances are good that firearm use is allowed. In unincorporated snohomish county there are no restrictions on firearms use other than the normal ones. Don't shoot across or along a road, don't shoot from a public road, be aware of your background, make sure you know what you're shooting at.

How do you hunt a coyote?

I've killed the coyotes bothering me by noting what time of day they appear, and where they come from and go. I did this by finding feather piles from turkeys they'd killed, and by carefully tracking them each time I lost a bird. Pretty soon I had narrowed down the area they entered my property, and the time of day they entered. They were coming between 4:30am and 6am, entering my property from a small patch of forest about 100 yards wide. I positioned myself on a barn roof with some stuff stacked around me to break up my outline, and was in place each morning at 3:30am waiting. I shot three coyotes in a week, and had one get away.

The coyote that escaped me was one that entered my property, and then worked its way around so that it was downwind of my barn. It scented me at 150 yards, and turned and ran away. So when you're waiting for your coyote, make sure to keep an eye on your downwind side. I didn't have to bother with calling, or bait -- the coyotes were after my birds, so I had a good lure already. There's a pretty good exploration of hunting coyotes here.

What do you shoot a coyote with?

A soft-nosed high velocity bullet is probably best for medium to long range. At short range or in cases where you don't want the bullet to go a long ways, say 30 yards or less, a shotgun is a good choice. I use a .308 calibre scoped rifle, and the shots I've made have been between 150 and 250 yards. It's worth practicing a bit to make sure you can hit at the range you're setting up. The kill zone on a coyote is about the size of your hand laid flat, just behind the front legs. You'll have one shot each day, and if you miss the coyote might not come back for a few weeks. Take the time and make sure you can make that shot count. Other calibers that are popular for coyotes are .223, .22-250, .243, .25-06, .260, .270. You can see a discussion on coyote guns here

"Shoot, shovel and shut up"

It's a fact of life that if you live in the country or you farm, you'll have some issues with predators. Most folks in the country follow this maxim for any predator that they encounter. Myself, I'm law abiding. If you find that you cannot kill your coyote yourself, you can generally call the WDFW for assistance. It's your government -- they're here to help you, right?

What do you do with the coyote once you've shot it?

I skin mine and have the skins tanned. You'll find a good site on skinning coyotes here.

You can have it tanned by these folks. They want the hide raw and frozen, shipped to them. Don't salt the hide, freeze it as soon as possible.


Anonymous said...

If you shoot a wolf by mistake, starving the sows a few days, breaking the carcass down, smashing the bones into small pieces and feeding it to the pigs will make the evidence go away. The big bones are the problem - the damn pigs won't eat all of them, but they will play with them and bury them: http://www.thestar.com/News/article/281554

I'd consider boiling the carcass until the bones release the gelatin and get soft enough that the pigs will eat them. If you are ever caught, you'll be just as guilty whether you've buried it or boiled it and fed it.

Bruce King said...

Somehow I don't think that predator control is the same as that case in BC.

Unknown said...

i think coyote huntinig is stupid i mean how would you like it if somebody came up to you while you were groming your babies or having a nice summer nap and somebody came up and shot you i mean god put us on earth to embrace life not kill it

By Brianna May Quinn.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, wrong circumstances you have listed there Brianna.

Anonymous said...

Wow brianna get real. How would you like to go out to your pasture in the morning to find one of your cows trying to calve and there is a coyote eating the tongue off of the calf while it is still half in the mother. most people only kill coyotes when they are eating livestock. And as far as I can see, the people that hunt them for sport are only helping the farmer.

Sol8air said...

I'm just about a mile east of the Ebey farm and have lost quite a number of small animals in and around my 4 acre rented property the past few weeks, including a much beloved semi-feral kitty and several raccoons and possum. I have no love of possum but I was saddened to find the remains of one I've been chasing off on the lawn this morning. I am JUST inside the newly defined Lake Stevens city limits so I cannot shoot them. I will try to call WDFW and see what they recommend. I'm not averse to killing them, they're not averse to killing local pets.

Anonymous said...

we have coyotes that are taking over in this suburban neighborhood in Snohomish County (Maltby area). They are getting so bold as to trot across my lawn in broad daylight. My cat disappeard 3 days ago,and we know it was a coyote(s).My neighbor saw a pair around the time my cat went outside to pee. We need to control the population growth. So many pets have gone missing here.

briannaisamoron said...

Brianna ur r a typical ignorant moron god put us on this earth to live and embrace life very true but he also put animals and such to provide food and other resources if coyotes threaten ur lively hood or someone wants to use there fur for something it's completely gods will or it wouldn't happen and that's according to ur believes

Coolcar said...

Yesterday I came home to find coyotes killed 10 chickens and a peacock in my chain link fenced poultry run. They dug their way under it and cleaned it out. For some reason they didn't get the 3 ducks and left one dead chicken behind. This is after snatching 4 cats over the past 3 years. I ordered my trap today- it's war now!

Bruce King said...

That sounds like quite the chicken coop. I draw the line when the coyotes start coming into the buildings. Can't fault you there.

Unknown said...

I am an avid coyote hunter anyone needing help with coyotes let me know James sewerrat24@hotmail.com

gtga said...

Im in Maltby area I have a feral cat who lives in my barn. I feed her daily but she kills many animals. A few months ago I went into the barn to feed her and I found 2 dead coyote pups, 1 of them was headless.
My cat is viscous! One for the cats I guess. I see coyotes almost weekly here. I have dogs so I fenced in most of my yard with 6 foot wire fencing with 1 foot underground. To keep the coyotes and rabbits out as well as my feral cat because im afraid she will kill one of my dogs. She has not tried to jump the fence yet. She did bite one of my dogs on the nose through the fence. At night my dogs howl and usually its because the coyotes are outside.My dogs are Shibas they look almost exactly like coyotes and are same size.

Unknown said...

I think you need to check yourself. If you actually have a routine method of disposing wolf carcasses because you can't tell what it is you're shooting then you probably should consider another hobby.