Letter: Utah hunters and ranchers call the shots on coyotes

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) l-r Utah Division of Wildlife Resources predator management specialist Jeff Cowlishaw, Tyler Peterson, 13, and his father, Kelly Peterson, watch as predator control program manager Xaela Walden documents coyote remains brought to her by the Petersons, who shot the coyote in Box Elder County last week. Utah DWR predator-control program provides a $50 incentive for hunters to kill and properly document every coyote that they kill in Utah. Despite its success, the program is getting an overhaul to rein in criminal abuses and obtain better data to help officials assess what the program is accomplishing in terms of protecting mule deer and controlling predators.

Regarding the need to "remove" coyotes from the environment, it is fascinating (to me) that the state’s Wildlife Resources conducted a three-year longitudinal study of coyote removal on Monroe Mountain, with half of the area devoted to coyote eradication and the other half where no efforts were made to kill coyotes. This was done to determine fawn survival if coyotes were removed.

When I spoke with an individual at Wildlife Resources knowledgeable with the results of the study, he said it was determined that coyote eradication had no discernible effect on fawn survival. The conclusion, I was told verbally, was coyote removal would only be needed if a deer herd were severely threatened from any cause.

I asked about this study being published and was told that graduate students at the university would be writing up the study. Since the study concluded a couple of years ago, it appears, to my knowledge, there is no hurry to make those findings widely available to the Utah public. An individual attending one of the advisory group meetings reported that the hunters, trappers and ranchers were pushing to increase the $500,000 taxpayer-funded bounty system. That is on top of the $500,000 or so that has been paid in the past to the federal Wildlife Services from taxpayer funds.

I have not inquired on the current state of the contracts to the federal agency but previously confirmed that each county contributed our tax dollars as its contribution. It kind of makes one wonder just where the “science” fits into the seemingly hunter/rancher-controlled state agency.

Connie Ball, Kanab