Now that the winter is officially here with the arrival of cold weather and all this fluffy white stuff, we are seeing more people out hunting coyotes. It seems to be a pastime to travel the countryside looking for coyotes. It is not something that I am into personally, but many people really do enjoy hunting coyotes.
Even though coyotes are one of our most valuable fur-bearing species, they are still considered a pest or nuisance, especially by livestock producers who would like to see their numbers kept in check. They have also been known to come into towns and cities and harvest the odd pet that is roaming around. This is one of the reasons to keep your cat inside and not let it roam at night.
Coyotes do benefit our eco-system by preying on rodents and cleaning up many of the dead animal carcasses found in the wild.
At one time, Saskatchewan had a bounty on coyotes and it is because of their impact on domestic livestock that any Saskatchewan resident can harvest them without a licence. So let’s look at some of the rules regarding the harvesting and shooting of coyotes in Saskatchewan.
Some of them are pretty common sense but once again a good reminder to all those that like this pastime.
• A licence is not required by a Saskatchewan resident to shoot or harvest or possess coyotes outside of any of the Northern Fur Conservation Blocks. A fur licence is required to sell the pelt of a coyote.
• Those hunting coyotes without a valid fur licence may not sell the fur to any person including a licensed trapper. Licensed trappers may NOT purchase coyotes from any person not holding a Saskatchewan fur licence.
• Coyotes can be shot with any caliber of firearm. Landowners or land occupants are permitted to use any legal means to kill any carnivore, including coyotes, to protect their property on lands they own or lease. However, this does not apply to the Swift Fox.
Leaving coyotes where they were shot is not considered a waste of game. If the land is posted, then hunters must have permission from the land owner to hunt coyotes.
• If out hunting coyotes, you may NOT accompany a big game hunter unless you have a valid big game licence for that zone.
• You cannot chase, worry or pursue coyotes in any vehicle including ATV, truck, car or snowmobile. Penalties for such offences include large fines, suspensions and even forfeiture of the vehicle used in the offence. Parents…this may be a good opportunity to discuss this with your kids if they have snowmobiles. In many cases, our investigation reveals that the parents had no idea that the kids were involved in chasing or killing coyotes with a vehicle.
• Coyotes are also harvested through trapping which requires a fur licence. Coyotes can be trapped using a certified foot hold trap (See page 54 in the 2017 Hunters’ and Trappers’ Guide for the list of certified traps). Many trappers use snares to harvest coyotes, however snaring coyotes is not lawful except under a permit. There are two types of snares, a free hanging neck snare and a power snare.
• Free hanging neck snares are a simple wire loop and their use is restricted to situations of livestock predation. Permits for free hanging neck snares are strictly controlled.
Power snares use a large spring in conjunction with a wire snare and can only be used under a free permit. There are a number of conditions regarding power snares such as use of breakaway devices allowing accidentally captured deer to escape; notifying all occupants of any residence within on mile of power snares; and attaching the power snare to a solid anchor.
• Poisons are unlawful to use on coyotes. Conservation officers who are trained may use approved poisons in severe livestock predation situations.
There appears to be misunderstanding regarding coyotes in that many people feel that the current price for a coyote pelt makes this a good money making opportunity. I have gone out with a couple of local trappers who harvest coyotes for the fur, and this is not easy work. The effort that these trappers put into the care and management of these furs is incredible. They really know their craft and take it seriously.
If you are thinking that you are going to shoot a coyote with a .300 Win Mag and then get $100 for it…you are mistaken. If you are thinking of getting into trapping, I would advise you to try and get some training or mentoring from an experienced trapper. Not just anyone can safely operate a spring loaded neck snare. Anyone looking to start trapping must successfully pass a trappers exam which can be taken at any Ministry of Environment office.
If you have any questions, the folks at the Saskatchewan Trappers Association are very knowledgeable and a great resource to new trappers.
Until next time….don’t assume your firearm is safe… SEE that your firearm is safe.
Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko has spent more than 25 years as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan. For many years, Officer Leko contributed a column to local papers on a variety of issues related to hunting, fishing, and other resource-related issues. If you have questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.