Sometimes it takes an epic moment to turn the tide of events in history. Sometimes it’s the flutter of a feather that can set events into motion that end up causing a complete paradigm shift in culture. The story I’m about to tell is neither. This is simply an issue that citizens have a chance to impact the decision on and I wanted to make sure you knew about it.
So that you know, I live an isolated area of Buncombe County in western North Carolina. I live at the base of a ridgeline that eventually soars to nearly 6,000 feet above sea level. I’m surrounded by a protected reservoir to one side, a national forest to another and the Blue Ridge Parkway can be seen winding around the peak above our land. Wildlife is almost as normal to see around our home as are human beings. It’s not uncommon to see bears walk across my yard at least 4-5 times a week. Mother Bears have dropped off their cubs on our front porch from time to time to play on our rockers. Bobcats, wild turkey, fox, raccoons, rabbits, birds of prey, deer and yes even coyote roam our valley freely. There’s even rumor of mountain lions, but we’ll save that debate for another day.
It’s the coyotes that I want to talk about though. You see, these predators are not native to the mountains of western NC and they cause a lot of problems. Small livestock, poultry and even smaller pets fall victim to these hunters. It’s for this reason that many in rural communities have adopted a shoot to kill policy toward these gray ghosts of the forest.
The challenge of how to deal with Coyotes isn’t exclusive to the Southern Appalachian Mountains, it’s all across the south east. In urban areas like Charlotte, NC, Coyotes have even begun attacking dogs inside the city limits. The growing popularity of Public Greenways has been credited with the spread of the animals into urban areas.
Coyote hunting is legal in North Carolina, without bag limits, during the day (except Sundays). But, as anyone who lives in the same habitat as these stealthy phantoms can tell you, they almost never come out during the day. They are almost exclusively night prowlers.
Enter North Carolina State Government…
Realizing that people have begun taking matters into their own hands, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has decided that it’s time to consider making Coyote night hunting legal in the Tar Heel state. After all, it wouldn’t be practical to go around arresting and/or fining citizens every time they kill a predator that was caught in the act killing livestock, poultry or even pets. That wouldn’t be very good PR would it? But like most things with government, there are a few strings attached.
Hunting of Coyotes would be allowed at night, on private lands, but only with a bow and arrow. Unless it’s on approved state hunting grounds, then you could hunt for Coyote at night with a gun, except on Sunday, when you would have to use a bow and arrow. Oh yeah, and for all the above, you would have the ability to use artificial calls and lights at night. You cannot, however, hunt from a vehicle.
The State will be holding a series of public hearings on the coyote hunting proposal over the next few weeks. For more information on the proposal and how to share your thoughts on the matter, visit http://www.ncwildlife.org/ProposedRegulations.aspx