The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission announced on Friday that it has reached an agreement in a lawsuit filed against it that will restore “conditional” coyote hunting in five counties where red wolves live in eastern North Carolina.

The Commission said the agreement will allow hunting of coyotes during daylight hours on private lands in Dare, Hyde, Beaufort, Tyrrell and Washington counties by licensed hunters who obtain a special permit from the Commission and report their kills. Across the rest of North Carolina, where coyotes may be hunted during daylight hours or at night using artificial lights, nothing will change.

The agreement stems from a lawsuit brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Red Wolf Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife and the Animal Welfare Institute. The suit charged the Commission with violating the federal Endangered Species Act by allowing coyote hunting in the five aforementioned counties.  A court-ordered injunction issued in May had halted coyote hunting in the five counties, except under extremely limited circumstances. 

This agreement restores opportunities for landowners and others to manage coyotes on their properties through daytime hunting. Coyotes are found in all 100 North Carolina counties, posing a predatory threat to pets, livestock and native wildlife. Hunting and trapping are effective tools for landowners to manage coyote populations on a localized basis.

Restoration of coyote hunting in the five counties requires the Commission invoke rulemaking to implement these changes. This process will be initiated as quickly as possible. Interested persons will be able to follow the progress of rulemaking by visiting www.ncwildlife.org. 

In June, the Commission requested a review of the red wolf reintroduction to determine whether it is meeting its goals and objectives under the ESA’s rules.

Landowners are permitted to “take” or kill a red wolf or a coyote if it attacks their livestock or pets, or if it endangers human life. A red wolf that is killed incidentally by any type of legal activity, such as hunting coyotes following state regulations, does not constitute a violation of federal regulations, provided that the taking is not intentional or willful. It also must be reported within 24 hours to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at 855-496-5837 or N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission at 800-662-7137.