Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

August 1, 2012

Coyote bounty

Success problematic for Tazewell

— — A coyote bounty launched several years ago by the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors is beginning to take a financial toll on the local governing body.

Launched several years ago, the bounty pays $50 per coyote hide. The goal of the original bounty was to keep the county’s coyote population down. However, when the economy took a turn for the worse several years ago, the number of people taking the county up on the bounty also increased.

And it is still increasing. Last year, the county exceeded the budget set aside for coyote kills, which are paid for by the Board of Supervisors and the county’s Farm Bureau. As a result, the county was unable to pay the bounty for a period of time. The record number of coyote kills is prompting the board to take another look at the ordinance, and its own budget.

A public hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 7, at 7:30 p.m. to receive public input on a possible repeal, or proposed changes, to the existing bounty.

“The board is holding a public hearing to allow for various options to change or modify the existing ordinance,” County Administrator Jim Spencer said last week. “You basically have to have a public hearing before you can make changes to the ordinance. Some of the things we are evaluating is cost.”

Spencer said the board wants input from residents on how to best tackle the coyote problem before making a final decision on what to do with the bounty.

Another question the county hopes to answer is whether or not the current bounty is actually addressing the problem, and whether or not it is helping to bring the coyote population under control.

However, officials still believe that coyotes are having a negative impact on the county’s agriculture industry.

“The coyotes are attacking livestock, so farmers are losing livestock,” Spencer added last week. “It is also impacting the wildlife, like quail and turkey. These animals are predators. I don’t have documented cases, but I’m sure there have been problems with attacks on household pets. We have documented cases of sheep and livestock that farmers have lost due to coyotes. That is one of the reasons we created the bounty. Agriculture is an industry and farmers work awful hard. This is a problem we need to address.”

Mike Hymes, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, believes a revised bounty could be more flexible, and include a limit on the number of bounties paid within a budget year.

Hymes said input from local residents will be essential in drafting a new bounty.

We agree. All concerned citizens, including farmers and those who have claimed a bounty in the past, should consider attending the Aug. 7 public hearing. Your input will be critical in determining what changes may be needed to the existing ordinance.

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