Coyote catalog connects landowners, hunters

Coyote population down in western ND

Kim Fundingsland/MDN This coyote wandered into a south Minot neighborhood and appeared to be quite comfortable lying in warm sunshine.

North Dakota’s coyote population is always a concern for livestock producers. They know that too many of the wily predators can take a toll on their operations. Hunters and trappers across the state watch coyote numbers too.

In an effort to keep coyote numbers in check, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department team up to produce the Coyote Catalog. The catalog connects landowners who want coyotes removed from their land with hunters and trappers willing to help out.

“One of the reasons we started this a few year ago is that livestock producers expressed concern about high coyote numbers,” said Doug Goehring, N.D. Agriculture Commissioner. “The beauty of this is that we play match maker. We facilitate a service. If a landowner has coyote problems he can be put into the system.”

Once a landowner signs up for the Coyote Catalog, which can be accomplished on the N.D. Department of Agriculture website, their information is shared with coyote hunters and trappers who sign up for the Coyote Catalog on the N.D. Game and Fish website.

“It’s kind of a match.com for coyote hunters and landowners,” said Stephanie Tucker, NDG&F.

Both Goehring and Tucker advise that landowners experiencing problems with coyote depredation should first contact U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services.

“They provide services for free for livestock producers,” said Tucker.

However, noted Goehring, predator control through USDA Wildlife Services is “somewhat limited.” For that reason, the Coyote Catalog is often a preferred option for ranchers and landowners looking to find a solution to their coyote problems.

“This year we have 17 landowners signed up and 359 hunters,” said Goehring. “It’s nice, especially with calving and lambing season coming on. In some areas there’s an increase in coyote activity and this is a concerted effort to manage the population out there.”

While the program is entirely voluntary by both parties, Goehring said there are some landowners in remote areas of the state who would welcome a few more hunters. It may mean driving a greater distance than some hunters are accustomed to, said Goehring, “But it’s a good way for sportsmen and landowners to work together and try to take care of a nuisance.”

As for coyote numbers, that varies throughout the state. Overall though, coyote numbers in western North Dakota appear to be down somewhat from a year ago while the coyote population in eastern North Dakota, particularly in the Red River Valley, has increased.

NDG&F uses rural mail carrier surveys each April to help determine coyote populations. The 2018 survey, said Tucker, showed a decline in coyote numbers south and west of the Missouri River.

“Our survey is not tied to the fur market,” explained Tucker. “And the fur market has been good for several years. There’s good money to be had in selling coyote pelts.”

The state’s coyote harvest has been trending up for the past decade. However, Tucker thinks harvest numbers in North Dakota may have reached a plateau.

“From what I’m hearing, I would not expect harvest to go up this year,” said Tucker. “It depends on which region of the state – some regions have better numbers of coyotes and the harvest will follow suit.”

Rich Hensen of Glenburn was involved in purchasing coyote pelts for nearly 40 years but still operates Hensen’s Fur and Leather in Minot and keeps in touch with both landowners and coyote hunters.

“I don’t buy fur anymore but I know there’s a lot of coyotes around,” said Hensen.

Jerry Hansen, a fur buyer from Columbia, S.D., makes fur-buying trips throughout North Dakota. He says the coyote population is doing very well in many areas but, overall, thinks the statewide population of coyotes is down from a year ago.

“I talk to a lot of people. Compared to last year, more people would say the coyote population is off,” said Hansen. “There are some exceptions. There’s some pockets with as many coyotes as last year,”

Hansen said he thoroughly enjoys working with landowners in North Dakota.

“Those ranch-style people, they just don’t come any better,” remarked Hansen.

As for the coyote market, most of the fur is used for trim on winter coats. Current prices for better quality coyote carcasses range roughly from $60 to $100.

“The fur industry is roller coaster. When it’s hot, it’s hot,” said Hansen. “The coyote market has been very strong going on five years.”

Coyote Catalog for landowners, hunters

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department and North Dakota Department of Agriculture oversee the Coyote Catalog, a statewide effort designed to connect coyote hunters and trappers with landowners who are dealing with coyotes in their areas.

Last winter, nearly 30 landowners participated in the Coyote Catalog, along with 500 hunters and trappers.

Landowners can sign up on the Department of Agriculture website at https://www.nd.gov/ ndda/livestock-development-division/coyote-catalog. County and contact information is required. Hunters and trappers can sign up at the Game and Fish website, gf.nd.gov/hunting/hunter-landowner-contact.

Anyone who registered for the Coyote Catalog in the past must register again to activate their names on the database. Throughout the winter, hunters or trappers may receive information on participating landowners, and they should contact landowners to make arrangements.

Landowners who are experiencing coyote depredation of livestock should first contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services. The Coyote Catalog will remain active through March 31, 2019.