http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/legislature/13996123.htm Posted on Thu, Mar. 02, 2006 Bill would let trappers sell coyotes LIVE ANIMALS WOULD FETCH MORE MONEY ASSOCIATED PRESS FRANKFORT - The House passed legislation yesterday that would allow trappers to sell live coyotes to hunters who release the animals into pens for their dogs to chase. Live coyotes could fetch up to $100 apiece, state wildlife officials said. House Bill 608, sponsored by state Rep. Royce Adams, D-Dry Ridge, was approved 85-15. Only trappers licensed by the state to deal with nuisance animals would be allowed to sell live coyotes under the legislation, which now goes to the Senate. Current state law forbids the sale of live coyotes. Jon Gassett, head of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said last week that coyotes have proliferated across the state, looking to livestock and even family pets, including small dogs and cats, for quick meals. Adams said farmers came to him asking for help with the coyotes. "They are reproducing so fast," Adams said. "I'm told a female coyote can have up to three litters a year." Larry Carr, a cattle farmer in Grant County, said most trappers currently don't bother with coyotes, because their furs are worth only $10 to $15 each. Allowing the animals to be sold alive would provide an incentive for trappers. ================================================ http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/13996186.htm Posted on Thu, Mar. 02, 2006 Coyotes don't deserve torture that bill will bring By David S. Maehr Six decades ago Aldo Leopold, the father of modern wildlife management, ushered the United States into a more enlightened view of the relationship between people and nature. His vision made us the global leader in environmental protections not only for people but also for wild plants and animals. Such protections have grown stronger because people recognize that this promotes a better quality of life. In general, Kentuckians have embraced their natural heritage -- the return of elk, the peregrine falcon and the black bear are examples of our national leadership in wildlife management. Now, Kentucky can become a national embarrassment by turning back the clock to the time when irresponsible farming practices washed soil into the sea, pollutants were freely flushed into our drinking water and the only good predator was a dead predator. The House Agriculture and Small Business Committee should be admonished for promoting a bill that would turn coyotes into a commercial resource: snared, caged and released for the enjoyment of a few so-called sports with hounds. The callousness of this commercialization is not only contrary to the way wildlife is viewed in this country, but it is unethical, inhumane and otherwise completely unjustified. If it is true that a few Kentuckians and their legislators are concerned about the coyote's potential as a destroyer of native game, livestock or pets, this bill is based on fantasy and misinformation. Even if the coyote had significant impact on livestock, a proposed plan that allows trapped coyotes to become $100 toys for misguided Elmer Fudds is an insult to the sensibilities of modern, non-knuckle-dragging humans. As if the notion of expanding unethically caged wild deer and elk was not enough, our legislative leaders now see fit to demonize and degrade a part of Kentucky's native biodiversity. It is the kind of behavior that will further erode the already declining public support for ethical hunting and trapping. The coyote is a wild canid closely related to dogs and wolves. In the early 1970s, it was scarce in Kentucky, but today it is widespread throughout the eastern United States. The coyote has made a good living here because agriculture has replaced forests, and potential competitors, such as the cougar and gray wolf, were exterminated nearly two centuries ago. As wolf-like as the coyote appears, it behaves as much like a large fox as a small wolf. In Kentucky, the coyote weighs 25 to 40 pounds and lives in pairs or small family groups unlike larger packs that can form in the West. Although coyotes occasionally eat deer fawns, their diet is mostly small rodents, rabbits, insects, fruit and berries. Coyotes rarely kill small livestock, but all the field data of which we are aware (based on more than 100 years of combined professional experience with wildlife) suggest that most large animals are scavenged -- that is, coyotes take advantage of animals that have died some other way. Feral and free-ranging dogs are recognized as a bigger problem to deer and livestock than the secretive and relatively small coyote. Besides, more than 95 percent of all livestock losses can be prevented with proper animal husbandry, and there is no evidence that coyotes attack pets in Kentucky. Even if one hates coyotes, House Bill 608 cedes public ownership and management of wildlife to a select few. This is contrary to the common-law history of wildlife in North America and the right of citizens to conserve wildlife resources. We reject this legislative powerplay that denies the fact that we, the people of Kentucky, own the wildlife in our state. Finally, none of us are anti-hunters or animal-rights activists. We acknowledge the proper time and place for using lethal methods to manage wildlife populations. If a coyote kills livestock, killing it can be justified. However, we cannot condone legislatively mandated torture of animals. It does not benefit wildlife or the people of Kentucky who appreciate all elements of the state's native biodiversity. As for state Rep. Mike Denham's insomnia, we suggest that he has confused the coyote's melodious singing with the howling of his neighbor's miserable redbone hounds that stay tied to trees all night except when chasing tortured coyotes -- transported from familiar territories to frightening Gulags of human abuse. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- David S. Maehr is an associate professor in the University of Kentucky department of forestry. This commentary was also signed by his colleagues Thomas G. Barnes, Michael J. Lacki and John J. Cox. Your thoughts?