Delaware’s first coyote hunting season ended with just one reported harvest in the entire state. According to the Journal News, the unlucky canine was a male taken by a deer hunter on January 23. Despite the abbreviated season, wildlife officials are a bit surprised by the single coyote killed.
“Having only one harvested coyote reported during the new coyote hunting and trapping seasons was a bit of a surprise,” said David Saveikis, director of the state’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. “It is unclear if the lone coyote harvested is indicative of coyote population size, the partial hunting and trapping seasons or a lack of awareness of the harvest reporting requirement.”
Biologists say that coyotes reached Delaware about 10 years ago and the current number of animals in the state is yet to be determined. Officials believe the population is still small, with the occasional coyote being spotted by trail cameras or residents. While still scattered across the state, coyotes are not native to Delaware and can negatively impact its wildlife, especially whitetail deer. This concern caused the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to open a brief hunting and trapping season earlier this year. A full hunting and trapping season is expected to start later this year.
Experts believe there to be less than 100 coyotes in Delaware. Although coyotes have been in the state for at least a decade, their expansion is slow. This is not the case in many other states, where coyote populations have mushroomed and are encroaching on urban centers.
Wildlife officials will be reminding hunters to report their harvests in the upcoming season, which will be vital to estimate exactly how large the state’s coyote population is.
Image courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service