ND coyote catalog connects landowners, hunters

MINOT, N.D. (AP) — In an effort to keep coyote numbers in check, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department have teamed up to produce the Coyote Catalog. The catalog connects landowners who want coyotes removed from their land with hunters and trappers willing to help out.

“One of the reasons we started this a few year ago is that livestock producers expressed concern about high coyote numbers,” said Doug Goehring, the state’s Agriculture Commissioner. “The beauty of this is that we play matchmaker. We facilitate a service. If a landowner has coyote problems he can be put into the system.”

Once a landowner signs up for the Coyote Catalog, which can be accomplished on the state Department of Agriculture website, their information is shared with coyote hunters and trappers who sign up for the Coyote Catalog on the state’s Game and Fish website, Minot Daily News reported.

“It’s kind of a Match.com for coyote hunters and landowners,” said Stephanie Tucker, a game management section leader and furbearer biologist with the North Dakota Game and Fish.

Both Goehring and Tucker advise that landowners experiencing problems with coyote depredation should first contact U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services.

“They provide services for free for livestock producers,” Tucker said.

However, noted Goehring, predator control through USDA Wildlife Services is “somewhat limited.” For that reason, the Coyote Catalog is often a preferred option for ranchers and landowners looking to find a solution to their coyote problems.

“This year we have 17 landowners signed up and 359 hunters,” said Goehring. “It’s nice, especially with calving and lambing season coming on. In some areas there’s an increase in coyote activity and this is a concerted effort to manage the population out there.”

While the program is entirely voluntary by both parties, Goehring said there are some landowners in remote areas of the state who would welcome a few more hunters. It may mean driving a greater distance than some hunters are accustomed to, he said.

“But it’s a good way for sportsmen and landowners to work together and try to take care of a nuisance,” Goehring said.

As for coyote numbers, that varies throughout the state. Overall though, coyote numbers in western North Dakota appear to be down somewhat from a year ago while the coyote population in eastern North Dakota, particularly in the Red River Valley, has increased.

The state Game and Fish department uses rural mail carrier surveys each April to help determine coyote populations. The 2018 survey showed a decline in coyote numbers south and west of the Missouri River, Tucker said.

“Our survey is not tied to the fur market,” explained Tucker. “And the fur market has been good for several years. There’s good money to be had in selling coyote pelts.”

The state’s coyote harvest has been trending up for the past decade. However, Tucker thinks harvest numbers in North Dakota may have reached a plateau.

“From what I’m hearing, I would not expect harvest to go up this year,” said Tucker. “It depends on which region of the state — some regions have better numbers of coyotes and the harvest will follow suit.”

Rich Hensen of Glenburn was involved in purchasing coyote pelts for nearly 40 years but still operates Hensen’s Fur and Leather in Minot and keeps in touch with both landowners and coyote hunters.

“I don’t buy fur anymore but I know there’s a lot of coyotes around,” said Hensen.

Jerry Hansen, a fur buyer from Columbia, South Dakota, makes fur-buying trips throughout North Dakota. He says the coyote population is doing very well in many areas but, overall, thinks the statewide population of coyotes is down from a year ago.

“I talk to a lot of people. Compared to last year, more people would say the coyote population is off,” said Hansen. “There are some exceptions. There’s some pockets with as many coyotes as last year,”

Hansen said he thoroughly enjoys working with landowners in North Dakota.

“Those ranch-style people, they just don’t come any better,” remarked Hansen.

As for the coyote market, most of the fur is used for trim on winter coats. Current prices for better quality coyote carcasses range roughly from $60 to $100.

“The fur industry is roller coaster. When it’s hot, it’s hot,” said Hansen. “The coyote market has been very strong going on five years.”