The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife reported that a single coyote was harvested during newly established coyote hunting and trapping seasons. The male coyote was harvested in the Hockessin area by a deer hunter Jan. 23.
Delaware’s coyote hunting and trapping seasons opened Jan. 11 with the adoption of new wildlife regulations that include an annual coyote hunting season from Sept. 1 through Feb. 28 (or 29) and trapping season from Dec. 1 through March 10. All coyotes harvested by hunting or trapping must be reported to the Division of Fish and Wildlife within one business day of harvest to provide data on coyote abundance and distribution that will help guide the division’s scientific management of the coyote population. Coyotes that have threatened human safety, livestock or pets, and that are harvested by landowners must likewise be reported under a Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary’s Order, with no such coyote harvest reported to date.
“Having only one harvested coyote reported during the new coyote hunting and trapping seasons was a bit of a surprise,” said David Saveikis, director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife. “It is unclear if the lone coyote harvested is indicative of coyote population size, the partial hunting and trapping seasons or a lack of awareness of the harvest reporting requirement. The full hunting and trapping seasons starting later this year will provide additional opportunities for coyote harvest, with the required harvest reporting an important tool in helping the division scientifically estimate and manage the coyote population.”
The next Delaware hunting and trapping guide to be published this summer will include a special coyote hunting and trapping section to further inform the public of coyote hunting and trapping seasons and opportunities, and of harvest reporting requirements.
The coyote is a non-native species that has recently expanded its natural range to Delaware. The new coyote hunting and trapping regulations are based on modern wildlife management science and are designed to manage the coyote population at a biologically and socially acceptable level. Coyotes, which are scattered throughout the state, can have impacts on native wildlife species and domestic animals, with both positive and negative impacts on native wildlife possible.
With proper management as provided by the new regulations, coyotes are not expected to have an unacceptable impact on Delaware’s deer population due to the successful reproductive biology of Delaware’s abundant deer population. 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 wildlife populations by suppressing overabundant predators such as red fox and raccoons.
For more information on coyote hunting and trapping, and to view the new wildlife regulations and the secretary’s order, go to http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/Pages/FWPortal.aspx.