Utah offers bounty for dead coyote ears

“In an effort to help increase the deer population and also protect grazing sheep in Utah, the state provides money to eight Utah counties to pay bounties for killing coyotes.”

Read the story in in Tooele Transcript Bulletin. Tooele is pronounced (TA will a).

Offering bounties on coyotes is a long discredited program, nevertheless it continues for political purposes.

It does not decrease the number of coyotes except in rare instances. Instead the coyote population increases unless 40 to 50% of the population is killed a year. Bounties and the many other efforts to kill coyotes are one of the reasons coyotes have spread from the West to the entire North American continent.

Replacement of existing coyotes with new coyotes, tends to increase predation on sheep if sheep predation was at a background level to begin with. The way to reduce sheep predation is to kill the coyote pairs or packs that kill the sheep, not a general assault on coyotes.

Coyotes are not primary predators on big game (except in harsh winters). Coyotes do reduce rodent populations and fox populations.

Even you don’t mind lots of “killin,” this is not cost/effective.

– – – –
Coyote Bounties

“During the early years of game management, many states relied on massive killing efforts (bounties) to
reduce predator numbers (e.g., wolves, coyotes, foxes) which were competing with man for game animals (e.g., white-tailed deer). Bounties are not used by most wildlife agencies nor are they supported by WS for predator control because:

• Bounties are not effective in reducing damage.
• Circumstances surrounding take of animals is largely unregulated.
• No process exists to prohibit taking animals from outside the damage management area for
compensation purposes.
• Bounty hunters may mistake dogs and foxes as coyotes.

Coyote bounties have a long history (>100 years in the U.S.) of use in many states without ever achieving the intended result of reducing damage and population levels (Parker 1995).

The overwhelming disadvantage of coyote bounties is the misdirection of funds meant to, but not effectively and economically able to, reduce coyote damage to livestock.”

This was taken from http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ws/nepa/WVcoyoteFONSI.pdf






  1. elizabeth Avatar

    Disgusting and a waste of money.

  2. Alan Gregory Avatar

    Let’s see. Where else can we kiss away tax dollars?

  3. mike Avatar

    Oh well, if we won’t let them have their way on polygamy, we have to expect them to take out their frustrations someplace.

  4. Karl Moore Avatar
    Karl Moore

    I don’t know, I’m kind of on the fence on this one. On one hand, yes, it’s a waste of money and it won’t accomplish the goal they are trying to achieve.

    But on the other hand:

    It’s possible that in the next 5-10 years, wolf predation on livestock could increase and states might start to consider putting a bounty on the wolves. This will be one more instance (among many) to point to and show that that policy does not work.

    It’s state money being spent which is collected from the same people who elected the officials that supported/created this policy. So it’s their money that is being wasted.

    There are several people that believe carnivores are evil and must be killed. This policy allows them to take out some of their frustrations with little overall impact on the species.

    And finally, I find it very ironic that this policy will actually do the opposite of what these people want.

  5. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Yes, I’ve always been amused that the net effect of the 120 year war on coyotes in the west has been to promote their rapid evolution and spread them all over the continent.

    I think you have a point about people killing coyotes as an outlet for their frustrations. Bounties and coyote-killing contests are a kind of ritual (ritualistic killing). The social function of all group rituals is to relieve anxiety.

  6. elizabeth Avatar

    Good points.

  7. Pronghorn Avatar

    Relieve anxiety, yes, by asserting their “dominance.” YOU know the kind of people who participate in killing contests and bounty programs — largely uneducated folks clinging to attitudes and a way of life slowly (or rapidly) falling into obsolescence. (Or those conscience-less specimens motivated by greed alone.) They feel threatened by social changes over which they have no control; who better to take it out on than “lesser” creatures — rattlesnakes, prairie dogs, coyotes? Or any predator whom they see as a threat to their property…whether they own livestock or not. Call it ignorance, call it hegemony, it’s the traditional culture of the West, and the sooner it passes, the better.

  8. Alan Avatar

    Very much like the “target-practice” shooting of prairie dogs in the West and the shooting of crows and gray squirrels in the East.

  9. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    We used to do that when we were teenagers growing up in Northern Utah. We weren’t from a farm, rather we were from the suburbs or the city.

    We shot magpies, squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, etc. We had heard that we were doing “good for the farmers.”

    Stupid, but that was the culture at the time.

  10. Mike Post Avatar
    Mike Post

    Nature abhores a vacuum. Coyote removal programs just end up generating larger litters and more pressure on coyote mothers to find food for those litters. The short term relief from predation looks great, but then come next spring all hell breaks loose…

  11. elizabeth Avatar

    Remnants of that culture are alive and well. When I used to study raptors on Utah’s West Desert, we would frequently see yahoos shooting pretty much anything that moved. Beer was usually close at hand as well as ATV. Not only were rabbits and prarie dogs favorite targets, golden eagles or any raptor were also on the list. Fortunately the raptors are not quite as easy to shoot as the poor rabbits or prarie dogs. We were often concerned of getting shot by “accident”.

  12. Robert Hoskins Avatar

    One interesting historical aspect of bounty programs is that the more perspicacious of the bounty hunters would take non-breeding animals and leave the breeding animals to ensure a continuing crop of predators for future take. It was a more perverse form of “sustainable management.”

    Just one more example of the stupidity of predator management programs.

  13. Jon Way Avatar
    Jon Way

    How dare these backward rednecks use our tax dollars for such a morally incomprehensible thing. How pathetic.

  14. Karl Moore Avatar
    Karl Moore

    They’re not my tax dollars. If you’re a resident of Utah Jon, may I suggest you get you money back by going and bagging a couple coyotes?

  15. Jon Way Avatar
    Jon Way

    Karl, the article states “Most of the money comes to the state from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). ”
    That is at least partly federally funded organization so I do pay for that even though I am not a Utahian. As for your comment, “may I suggest you get you money back by going and bagging a couple coyotes”, I say: no thank you. I got my PhD to help and inform the public about coyotes. To think that I can help pheasants and other game species is not realistic anyways. I do not feel kindly for organizations to fund this work politically so people can recklessly kill something.
    So, no thanks to your offer, but I have no desire to bag a couple coyotes to make my money back. I can actually make a lot more money doing other things, then I can go enjoy viewing coyotes (somethings 8-10 a day), not shooting, near my house during my free time.

  16. Halina Avatar

    I think Pronghorn got it right on – we all engage in inconsistent and possibly irrational behavior when we feel a loss of control in our lives. It’s the reason we’re getting a 700 mile fence and militarization of a border with Mexico, an ally and trading partner. Those in power are only too happy to distract the public from root causes of our insecurity by finding scapegoats.

    Anyway, here’s a study about ineffectiveness of coyote predation:

    Culling Coyotes Doesn’t Pay Off

    By Robin Meadows
    July-Sept 2006 Vol. 7 No. 3
    Conservation in Practice (A publication of the Society for Conservation Biology)
    Journal Watch

    Berger, K.M. 2006 Carnivore-livestock conflicts: Effects of subsidized predator control and economic correlates on the sheep industry. Conservation Biology, 20(3):751-761

    People have been killing predators to protect livestock for thousands of years, and today many countries around the world have government programs to control predators. But any benefits to the livestock industry are assumed rather than proven. New research raises questions about this assumption by showing that U.S. coyote control programs do little—if anything—for the sheep industry that they supposedly boost.

    Although coyotes are hardly threatened, this predator control program still has a major conservation downside. “Taxpayer-subsidized control programs help perpetuate the public perception of carnivores as widespread livestock killers,” says Kim Murray Berger of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Conservation Biology. “[This] may hinder conservation of threatened species through direct persecution or resistance to reintroduction efforts.” Furthermore, predator control programs have threatened other species, including African wild dogs and gray and red wolves.

    The U.S. sheep industry has declined by more than 85 percent since peaking in 1942, and coyotes are widely blamed. They are the primary targets of federally subsidized programs to protect sheep from predation and comprise about 95 percent of the large carnivores killed in the last 20 years. During this period, coyotes have been killed at an annual rate of roughly 80,000 and at an annual cost of US$20.

    Berger is the first to assess what we are really getting for all that money and effort, not to mention all those coyote deaths. She modeled how the U.S. sheep industry is affected both by predator control and by economic factors, including lamb prices and hay and labor costs. She used the number of sheep as a measure of the industry’s viability and the amount spent on predator control as a measure of that effort.
    The results showed that we aren’t getting what we thought by killing coyotes. Rather, predator control has had little impact on the sheep industry, accounting for only six percent of the trends in sheep numbers. This finding is further supported by the fact that sheep trends have been much the same in western and eastern states, even though the latter were colonized by coyotes relatively recently and lack federal predator controls. “Berger’s results are long overdue and should help shape policy in the U.S. and elsewhere,” says Paul Beier of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. “It’s amazing that U.S. citizens have supported these programs for decades in the absence of a rigorous assessment.”

    So what is actually behind the decline of the sheep industry? Berger’s model implicates economic factors. For example, hay prices rose 44 percent and sheep numbers dropped 44 percent between 1966 and 1976. Moreover, lamb prices dropped by nearly 25 percent whereas real wages more than doubled between 1939 and 1998. “Taxpayer dollars might be better spent to support sheep producers through direct cash payments or some other form of subsidy if the goal is to increase sheep and wool production and not merely to kill carnivores,” says Berger.

  17. Karl Moore Avatar
    Karl Moore

    Jon, we didn’t have a good satellite connection, so I wasn’t able to see the original article. Thanks for letting me know about the federal connection for the funds.

    As for bagging a couple coyotes, I guess sarcasm doesn’t come across well electronically.

  18. Jon Way Avatar
    Jon Way

    Thanks Karl. Yes, I misread the sarcasm (or what I thought lack of)- but at least we both (essentially) made the same point. Just differently.
    best, jon

  19. shane Avatar

    I have a couple of questions for all of you? First how many of you live in the country? How many of you have degrees in Wild Life Mangement or Agriculture? My response to all of you do your research before you start spouting off your liberal view points. I am sick an tired of people attacking other peoples rights when they themselves have no background in the areas which they attacking. Just because it does not meet your own personal criteria and views doesn’t meet you are right. How many of you live in the along the foothills or winter range areas where deer and other animals migrate to? If you do you are just as guilty of killing animals as those who choose to hunt. I live in the Salt Lake Valley and I constantly here those living in the foothill complain about deer coming down in the winter and eating their plants but yet they not all but quite a few would rather see these animals starve rather than let a hunter ethically take them through hunting because they think that is cruel, not realizing or caring that they them selves have done more harm to wildlife than an ethical hunter would do because they have chosen to have a home with a view where
    deer and other animals once wintered. All I have to say is shut your mouths until think about what is you are attacking. Not all hunters are out to kill everything in sight, yes there are un-ethical hunters, but as with other aspects in life people are not always ethical.

  20. Karl Moore Avatar
    Karl Moore

    Whoa Shane, did I miss something here? Who is attacking hunters and hunting? I thought we were talking about a bounty program on coyotes that has historically done the opposite of what it is intended to do (unless there is some kind of governmental conspiracy to actually increase the size of predator populations).

    I was born, raised and have been a resident of Wyoming my whole life. I grew up on hunting and have zero problems with it. In this day and age, I can not think of any other effective way to manage deer, elk, pronghorn… In my career I have travelled around the country and have seen herds of deer that have starved to death because of overpopulation. It’s not pretty.

    But this article isn’t talking about that. It’s talking about a bounty on coyotes. Something that doesn’t make sense. There have been bounties for years in Wyoming and from personal experience, the population in our area hasn’t been reduced. Why waste tax dollars on such a program?

  21. MILLS Avatar


  22. Rancher Avatar

    They should double the bounty on these oversized rats. How many of you have lost your jobs because of coyotes? They take down my sheep every year! That costs me money.

    I guess with this “informative post” we are back to square one, so this thread is closed to comments. Ralph Maughan


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan