Next time you see a coyote in the wild, you could be watching $1000 on all fours.
Earlier this week, the South Carolina House approved a coyote-bounty program that could put $1000 in the pockets of hunters who kill tagged coyotes. The measure will become law if it is approved by the Senate in a vote that is forthcoming.
The law will direct the SCDNR to capture, neuter, tag, then release at least a dozen coyotes across the Palmetto State. The program is meant to give hunters an incentive to shoot coyotes, which are not native to the state. Coyotes are known to kill and eat a large number of deer fawns, and are partly to blame for the decline in deer populations across the state.
South Carolina has no closed season on coyotes, but many hunters don’t shoot them except when they happen to see one while they are hunting deer or wild hogs. Some hunters won’t even shoot coyotes then, because they fear that shooting will ruin their chance at seeing other game. Lawmakers believe that this law will give some hunters the push they need to pull the trigger in such situations, and to put other hunters in the woods even when it isn’t deer season.
Some critics of the law say the new bounty program will encourage reckless hunting.
Micah Sellers of Hopkins said he hopes the bill becomes law.
“A lot of people don’t realize how destructive coyotes are to our deer population, so this will get some of them to shoot coyotes. I shoot all of them I see anyway, so it won’t change me as far as whether I shoot coyotes or not, but it might line my pockets with some cash, and I like that idea. And actually, I will probably hunt coyotes more often during the summer knowing that some are worth a grand,” he said.
Daniel Freeman of Rembert likes the idea too, and though he has never shot a coyote before, he said he will if this becomes law.
“I have a limited amount of time to hunt during deer season, so anytime I’ve seen a coyote while hunting, I’ve not even thought about pulling the trigger because I don’t want to spoil my chances of seeing a deer. I’ve always let the coyotes walk, then stayed in the stand hoping for a deer to come by. But if there’s $1000 on the line, I’m gonna take a shot at it,” said Freeman.