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Should NH limit coyote hunting to coincide with pup season?

coyote in winter
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Coyotes have long been vilified in New Hampshire and across the country. Generations of farmers learned to despise these predators for ravaging livestock. New Hampshire hunters can target coyotes all year long with no bag limit. Advocates argue that the coyote’s bad reputation is unfair, however. This has led to HB 1100, a bill that would limit coyote hunting to protect pup rearing season.

Coyotes in New Hampshire

Coyotes arrived in New Hampshire in the mid-20th century as their population moved East across the country from the Midwest. The first verified account of a coyote in the Granite State came in 1944, and the population grew statewide during the 1970s. As predators, coyotes tend to prey on whatever is seasonally abundant, including mice, squirrels, woodchucks, and more. While most don’t prey upon livestock, depredation can become an issue if a coyote learns that young livestock make easy prey. According to the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department website, coyotes can actually help farmers by controlling rodent populations. Coyotes pose little threat to humans, although there is some concern that may change as developments push into natural habitats.

A humane and practical policy change?

HB 1100 proposes to limit coyote hunting during pup rearing season, stating “No coyote shall be hunted at any time from April 1 through July 31 to coincide with coyote pup rearing.” The legislation is being championed by Voices of Wildlife in NH, an organization that aims to “make New Hampshire a more humane state by educating the public about the value of wildlife and working to end the cruel and unjust treatment of wild animals.”

Bill supporters argue it is simply inhumane to allow the killing of any animal when its offspring may not survive on their own. Killing coyotes during pup season could also have other, destabilizing effects on the coyote population. Coyotes are highly intelligent and social animals. They form stable packs where only alpha males and females breed. However, when the pack is disrupted by hunting, subordinates and outsiders will begin to breed within the pack which can lead to more coyotes, not fewer. When pups are orphaned, juveniles are also more likely to search for food in farmyards and neighborhoods.

A danger to other species?

This is not the first time New Hampshire legislators have considered this proposal. Similar legislation was brought forward by Voices of Wildlife in NH in 2019. The House killed that bill.

Opponents pointed out that the coyote pup rearing season coincides with the time when other animals have their young, like deer, moose, cows, and more. Since coyotes hunt in packs, it is not uncommon for groups of them to attack and kill animals like deer and cows while they are giving birth. Many citizens also fear their household cats and small dogs being attacked and killed by coyotes. Lastly, the Fish and Game Department argued that wildlife hunting seasons should be set by the Department through their regular rulemaking process, not by legislators. Ultimately, the 2019 committee felt that the current system was working to control the coyote population, and there was therefore no need to change it.

What do you think?

Do you want to see HB 1100 become law? Or, do you think current methods of controlling New Hampshire’s coyote population should remain in place? The bill will have a public hearing on February 6, 2024 in room 307 of the Legislative Office Building in Concord. Go make your voice heard!


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