One state is offering a coyote bounty to hunters willing to kill predators.
The days of state wildlife agencies paying hunters and trappers to kill predators are long gone.
South Carolina’s Department of Natural Resources is going to reward hunters and trappers who kill one of a handful of special coyotes with lifetime hunting licenses. The hunter can keep the license himself or pass it along to someone else, such as a child.
Not every coyote counts, though. The Department released 32 tagged coyotes over the last two years. Only turning in the carcass of one of those will earn a reward.
So far, eight coyotes have been claimed. Twenty-four remain.
According to the department, the program is the idea of state lawmakers. It launched in 2017.
The goal is to encourage more people to target and kill coyotes. They were imported to the state illegally in 1978 and have since expanded exponentially. The fear is that they’re hurting deer populations.
Speaking of politics and management, there’s a battle brewing in another state.
The Arizona Game and Fish Commission and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are opposing a proposed ballot initiative. It would ban the hunting of mountain lions and bobcats. It would also limit the ability of professional wildlife managers to decide what’s best for the two species.
“I like to describe it as ballot box wildlife management versus scientific management of wildlife,” said commissioner Kurt Davis. “This is very dangerous for the ability of our wildlife professionals, our scientists, to effectively manage all the forms of wildlife in the state. It removes management tools that are used by the department and I think that’s a very dangerous path to go down.”
The initiative is sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States. It hadn’t qualified for the ballot as of early December.
The commission and Foundation are trying to keep it from getting there.
And here’s one last bit on legislation.
Two Pennsylvania state Representatives, Harold English and Bill Kortz, both of Allegheny County, are sponsoring House Bill 359. The bill says that “if an honest hunter” kills a bear or elk by mistake and turns themselves into the Pennsylvania Game Commission they may still have to pay a fine, but they wouldn’t lose their ability to buy another license.
That’s the rule already for those who mistakenly kill a deer or turkey and admit it.
The House of Representatives passed the bill. State Senators are considering an amended version.
One amendment would allow game wardens to wear body cameras, much like state police. The other would allow people who have violated the game law, and are making payments on their fine, to keep their hunting license privileges.
And so it’s official: Game Commission officers are now game wardens.
That’s what many have called them seemingly forever. That was never their real title, though.
For years, officers were district game protectors. Starting in 1987, they became wildlife conservation officers. The latest change is meant to make it clear what officers really do.
That’s the good news, at least in the agency’s eyes.
It revealed some bad news recently, too, though.
The commission won’t be selling tree seedlings from its Howard Nursery to the public this year.
“Drastically low inventories” are to blame. Seedlings will be made available to participants in the Seedlings for Schools program, as well as to landowners who open their lands to public hunting through the hunter access program.
But that’s it.
The commission hopes to return to selling seedlings to the public in 2019.
Capacity plates may be coming back.
The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission eliminated the need for boaters to have capacity plates in their crafts a few years back.
Now, though, its boating advisory board – based on feedback from the U.S. Coast Guard — is recommending that rule be changed again.
Under the old/new rules, capacity plates would be required on monohull boats less than 20 feet in length designed to carry two or more people and propelled by machinery or oars it it’s either manufactured, transferred, or offered for sale in Pennsylvania or operated on commonwealth waters.
Excluded would be canoes, kayaks, pontoons, sailboats, inflatable boats, hydroplanes, personal watercraft and “boats considered by the commission to be of unusual or unique design.”
Two webcams offering viewers a glimpse into bald eagle nests are active.
Audubon Society of Western Pennsylvania said its Harmar and Hays webcams – re-positioned this year to offer closer views – are operational. And what’s more, they’re broadcasting in HD with sound. Viewers can rewind the live stream to go back two hours and share video clips on YouTube, too.
The live streamed cams may be viewed at aswp.org.