RALEIGH, N.C. (May 16, 2014) — The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is notifying the public that a U.S. District Judge has issued a court order prohibiting hunting of coyotes in Dare, Hyde, Beaufort, Tyrrell and Washington counties, day or night, except under extremely limited circumstances. This notification is due to a lawsuit in which the Wildlife Resources Commission is alleged to have violated the federal Endangered Species Act by allowing coyote hunting in those counties where a non-essential experimental reintroduction of the red wolf is occurring.
In North Carolina’s other 95 counties, coyote hunting regulations allow coyote hunting on private land at any time, day or night, with no bag limit, and on public land at night with a permit.
The Wildlife Commission and the N. C. General Assembly through its House Select Committee on Nuisance Coyote Removal implemented tools to provide North Carolinians the ability to manage coyote predation on livestock, pets and native wildlife through hunting and trapping. These lethal removal methods provide the best means of removing offending animals while instilling fear of humans in other coyotes in the immediate vicinity. Hunting at night is often more effective than during the daytime because coyotes are often more active during nighttime hours.
Coyote distribution in North Carolina has sharply increased since the mid-1980s when coyote occurrences were documented in fewer than a dozen counties. Coyotes are now well established throughout North Carolina, occurring in all 100 counties. Estimates of coyotes harvested by hunters and trappers also indicate dramatic increases in abundance. For example, statewide estimated coyote harvest by hunting exceeded 27,000 coyotes in the 2012-13 season and estimated coyote harvest by trapping has increased 26-fold in the last decade.
The court order affecting the five counties allows that coyotes may be shot in defense of a person’s safety or the safety of others, or if livestock or pets are threatened. In accordance with the order, any coyotes shot under these circumstances must be reported to the Wildlife Commission within 24 hours. To report a coyote kill persons may call 1-800-662-7137. Landowners needing assistance with other coyote problems in the five counties affected by the court order may contact the Wildlife Commission at the same number.
In issuing the order, the U.S. District Judge stated that he would revisit his ruling in six months pending the outcome of a lawsuit that seeks to end coyote hunting permanently in the five counties.
“The Commission is deeply concerned about potential impacts to private landowners, hunters and native wildlife resulting from this order,” said Jim Cogdell, chairman of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
The board of the Wildlife Resources Commission will meet next week to consider other legal and procedural steps regarding the judge’s order. Interested parties may visit www.ncwildlife.org for information and updates.