Douglas Prichard, of Oceana, founder of the Smokie Coyote Hunt Club, has a mission to exterminate every Coyote in West Virginia. His reasons, hit close to home. Several years ago, the man, an avid Raccoon hunter, was in the woods near his home, when his hunting dog treed a ‘coon’ and was holding it there for him. “I could hear my dog whooping in the background, and all of a sudden, it stopped.” When he got to the tree, his dog was gone. “I tracked my dog for several hours through the woods, and I finally figured out what happened.” Prichard said a group of Coyotes captured, carried off, killed and ate his dog.
A close relative of the domestic dog, the Coyote can be found from Panama to Alaska. They were first discovered by European explorers over 400 years ago. They are first and foremost, predators. The animals hunt small game in the forest, but travel in packs. Urban sprawl, and a declining amount of food in the deep woods have caused the animals to migrate farther into the eastern United States. They have begun, according to Prichard, to prey on sheep, cattle, chickens and other easy to catch animals.
“They’ve bred more with dogs and gotten progressively bigger,” he said. “And while the Coyote has gotten bigger, they have become more aggressive.” He said they have been known to come into the back yards of rural homes where they prey on house cats and even somewhat larger dogs. “Recently, a farmer in Nicholas County called me to tell me the Coyotes had gotten both his cattle dogs, as well as all his cats.” Prichard said. Recently, a man right near here, in Julian told me he lost all his cats and dogs to them too.”
His answer is simple, start an organization in each state that raises money to provide bounties for each Coyote killed. He declined to say how much money a dead Coyote might provide for a hunter, but noted that at least one county in the Northern part of West Virginia was providing $75 per animal killed to hunters. He noted that while the danger to farm animals and pets were certainly an important reason to kill the elusive predators, there were two other dangers. “In North Carolina, there have been cases of Coyotes being infected with rabies. We haven’t discovered a rabid one here, but it’s just a matter of time.” Coyote attacks seems to be increasing in eastern states, he stated, and the frequency of such encounters seem to be growing in urban areas.
On April 3rd, a Coyote in Chicago walked into a Quiznos sandwich shop in the loop area of the city. Animal control officers had to come and remove the Coyote an hour later. “My group hears all the time about people sighting the Coyotes around houses, and that tells me they have lost their fear of people. I know there are a lot of ATV riders in my county that are afraid to ride in the woods now without their guns because of these animals. The fear of Coyotes has caused a lot of handguns to be sold to riders, from what gun dealers tell me.”
Prichard is organizing a public meeting at the Danville Community Center tomorrow night (April 19), to try and organize a Boone County chapter of the Smokie Coyote Hunt Club. His aim is to raise money through each affiliated group to pay people to kill the animals. The meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. According to state regulations, there is an open season on Coyotes all year long. This means that hunters may shoot these animals, as long as they comply with all other state laws regarding sport hunting.
Prichard said most hunters seem to have their best luck on Coyotes using centerfire rifles in 223 caliber or larger, although he noted that the new class of 17 Rimfire cartridges seem to be effective killers of the animals.