Where did all these coyotes come from?

Despite some of the most liberal hunting regulations in the Carolinas, coyotes continue to be a problem in both states.

Despite liberal hunting limits, coyotes are a problem in both Carolinas

We’ve all heard the story about how the SCDNR or the NCWRC brought coyotes into the Carolinas to keep the deer population in check. Some of us even have a friend who swears he killed a coyote with an ear tattoo from one of those agencies back in the early days (no photo though).

And those of us who are really lucky have an acquaintance whose insurance agent “confessed” to conspiring with state agencies to bring coyotes in order to thin out the deer population, thus cutting down on vehicle vs. deer accidents, and the subsequent payouts that go with them.

I even had a guy tell me that a friend of his that worked for one of the state agencies was involved in bringing the coyotes in, and that his friend told him all about the program. But, he wouldn’t name this friend of his.

Then, according to these same sources, the coyote population exploded, which the states weren’t counting on, so now they’re blaming fox pen owners and general migration for the numbers of coyotes we have. And counting on hunters to right their wrongs, but keeping our hands tied with bulky regulations and firearm restrictions.

Rubbish. According to the SCDNR, the agency has never imported and released coyotes into any part of the Carolinas, not for any reason. The NCWRC states likewise. Both state agencies also agree that the first coyotes brought into both states were illegally imported for hound hunting. Along with federal agents, the SCDNR and NCWRC have prosecuted individuals they’ve caught doing so.

The two agencies also agree that on top of the illegal imports, coyotes naturally migrated into both states over the past 30 to 40 years. Wildlife biologists throughout both Carolinas also believe coyotes are having a negative impact on deer populations.

And both states have very liberal hunting regulations for coyotes, so we can’t say our hands are tied by the regulations of either state.

Coyotes are fair game all year long. There is no closed season for coyotes in either state.

Do you want to hunt them with a shotgun? No problem. Rifle? Yep. Crossbow? You got it.

How about using electronic calls? Also completely legal in both states.

Night hunting can’t possibly be legal though, right? Actually, it is legal, with a few exceptions. North Carolina hunters cannot hunt at night in Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, or Washington Counties, but the other 95 coyotes in the Old North State allow it, along with all 46 counties in South Carolina.

Along with wild hog hunters, coyote hunters have fewer restrictions than hunters of any other wild game in the Carolinas. So why is it so hard to control the population of these wily animals?

Many deer hunters in both states will pass on shooting a coyote if they see one while deer hunting. They are afraid of scaring deer away with their shot, and especially for hunters with limited time to hunt, they feel they are wasting a hunting day if they pull the trigger on something other than a deer.

Others will shoot every coyote they see, as long it’s deer season. But many of those hunters store their guns away once deer season is over.

Coyotes reproduce in late winter, and by mid-spring, they’ll have a litter of five to seven pups.

So even for hunters that killed five coyotes, one litter is replenishing that amount.

Incentive programs are in place, like this one from SCDNR, and coyote hunting competitions like this one are still in their early days, but they are growing in popularity and helping to educate hunters on how killing coyotes will help not just the deer populations, but also the turkey populations in both states.

Click here for North Carolina coyote regulations. Click here for South Carolina coyote hunting regulations.

How many coyotes have you killed this year?

About Brian Cope 2745 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at brianc@sportsmannetwork.com.