Another Epsom representative, Republican John Klose, is sponsoring a bill that should end up in the reject pile. It calls for allowing the hunting of coyotes at night, now limited to the frigid months of January, February and March, until the middle or end of August. Klose called coyotes “a 24-hour killer, seven days a week” whose numbers must be reduced. The “vicious” animals are “multiplying like it’s going out of style.”
There are plenty of problems with the bill. It was filed as a non-germane amendment to a bill about student hunting licenses and thus caught the state’s Fish and Game Department by surprise. It also ignores basic coyote biology. The more coyotes are hunted and killed, the more pups the females have in a litter. An average litter of four or five could become six or eight so you end up with more coyotes than you started with. Kill all the coyotes and more quickly move in. Kill some of the coyotes and there’s more food for the remaining ones so more of the pups survive to adulthood. Kill the bigger, older coyotes and you end up with more in their prime reproductive years.
Coyotes can, on rare occasions, kill a moose, as Klose says, but that’s rare and victims are the young and very old moose. Some, when driven to it by hunger or attracted by easy prey, do kill livestock and, since they defend their territory against other canids, they’ll kill dogs. Mostly, though, they live on mice, voles and small game.
On its website, New Hampshire Fish and Game warns farmers who have resident coyotes but no predation problem to leave well enough alone: “The resident coyote may actually be an asset to the farm by removing rodents and preventing problem coyotes from moving into the area.”
Glenn Normandeau, the department’s commissioner, said police and residents would prefer not to hear gunshots during the night. A generation or two ago shots meant that someone was hunting raccoons, legally, or jacking deer, very illegally. Now gunshots in the night spawn images of drug deals gone bad and domestic violence. Lawmakers should say “no” to shots in the dark.