By Tom Beveridge.
Over the Holidays, I had the opportunity to run a trapline in Northwestern Pennsylvania with some good friends of mine. We connected with some beavers and a gray fox, as well as two mature coyotes. Several people encouraged us to contact the Pennsylvania Game Commission to collect our “bounty” on these two dogs. Unfortunately, however, there appears to be some confusion as to the state of the legislation surrounding this “bounty” which I hope to clarify in this article.
On June 17, 2013, Representative Michael Peifer (R), along with several other Representatives, introduced House Bill 1534 known as the Coyote Control Incentive Program. Under this Bill, the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) may create and control a coyote control incentive program to compensate properly licensed hunters and furtakers $25.00 for each lawfully harvested coyote. Funding for this program will entail the transfer of $700,000.00 annually from the Game Fund to a special account with the remaining balance used for other purposes at years end. As written, the Bill merely allows for the use of this money to establish and run the program, as well as pay each bounty. The Bill will be effective 60 days after becoming law.
Upon introduction, HB 1534 was immediately referred to the House Committee on Game and Fisheries. Thereafter, it was returned to the House and recommitted to the Appropriations Committee on December 10, 2013. On December 11, 2013, the House passed the Bill and it was referred to the Senate. On December 13, 2013, the Senate referred the Bill to to the Senate Committee on Game and Fisheries where it remains as this writing.
While debate continues on the feasibility and necessity of this program, the Bill is still under consideration in our legislature and is not law. Even if approved, this Bill will not take effect prior to the upcoming coyote hunts in Pennsylvania, such as Mosquito Creek Sportsman’s Association hunt scheduled on February 21, 22 and 23.
Does Pennsylvania need a coyote bounty? I cannot comment on the science aspect of this question. However, as a hunter and trapper, I can tell you we have far more coyotes than ever before. And yes, they do indeed have a serious effect on small game and deer populations. Also, coyotes have no natural predators. Controlling their population is left to predator hunters and trappers. With fur prices higher than in years past, more hunters and trappers will be pursuing the coy-dog, but perhaps an extra $25.00 per dog may be the additional incentive needed.