The Division of Fish and Wildlife reminds hunters that Delaware’s first coyote hunting season remains open through the end of February. The coyote hunting season opened Jan. 11 with the adoption of new wildlife regulations that include a coyote hunting season from Sept. 1 through the last day of February. The regulations also established a coyote trapping season from Dec. 1 through March 10.
The division received its first report of a coyote harvested during the newly-established hunting season, a male coyote taken in the Hockessin area by a deer hunter Jan. 23. All coyotes harvested by hunting or trapping must be reported to the division within one business day of harvest to provide data on coyote abundance and distribution that will help further guide the division’s scientific management of the coyote population.
The coyote is a non-native species that has recently expanded its natural range to Delaware. The state’s new coyote hunting and trapping regulations are based on modern wildlife management science and designed to manage the coyote population at a biologically and social acceptable level. Coyotes, which are scattered throughout the state, can impact native wildlife species and domestic animals, with both positive and negative impacts on native wildlife populations possible. Coyote trapping is the most effective means of coyote population management, with hunting providing an additional population management method while also providing a new recreational hunting opportunity.
With proper management through the new regulations, coyotes are not expected to adversely affect populations of most wildlife species, including Delaware’s white-tailed deer population due to the successful reproductive biology of Delaware’s abundant deer herd; coyotes may indirectly benefit ground nesting birds such as wild turkey by displacing turkey predators. Coyotes also add biological diversity and may further provide ecological balance to the state’s other wildlife populations by suppressing overabundant predators such as red fox and raccoons.
“Coyote hunting within our established hunting season framework is part of our science-based management of this non-native species,” said David Saveikis, director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. “Coyote hunting also provides a new recreational hunting opportunity, including late in the hunting season, and the required reporting of harvested coyotes will provide new data on coyote abundance and distribution to further enable the division to scientifically manage the coyote population. We encourage hunters to report harvested coyotes to help us manage this species.”
A summary of coyote hunting regulations include:
• Season open Sept. 1 through last day of February.
• Coyotes can only be harvested with the following firearms: shotgun, rimfire or centerfire rifle up to .25 caliber, muzzle-loading rifle, longbow and crossbow; during deer firearms seasons, only firearms legal for deer hunting can be used.
• Harvested coyotes must be reported to the division within one business day of their take by calling 302-735-3600.
• A hunting license is required to hunt coyotes.
• Coyote hunting is not allowed at night between one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise, similar to established restrictions prohibiting night hunting of other wildlife species.
• Coyote hunting is not allowed on Sundays based on established prohibitions on Sunday hunting.
For more information on coyote hunting and trapping and to view the new wildlife regulations go to www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Pages/FWPortal.aspx.