Dear editor,

Reading the article regarding predator control in Johnson County was interesting. Since retiring, one of the activities I do in the winter is hunting and trapping coyotes. Although I have done it for years, as a hobby, getting more serious has shown me a lot about the economics of coyote control.

According to Mr. Camino, the budget in Johnson County is about $300,000 per year. I was told the program results in elimination of about 350 coyotes per year. I don’t know if it’s accurate, but the simple math is the gross cost, per coyote eliminated, would be about $857. This seems pretty steep if it is subsidized by the taxpayer.  

It was once common practice for predator boards to pay bounties of $25 to $50 per coyote. A hunter could cover expenses and have some fun. Recently a fur is worth only $35 to $40, down from $100 years ago. With no bounty, there is not much incentive for the private person to help out. It’s an expensive pastime with the cost of equipment and gas. The predator board should consider opening up the private market by offering bounties again. If $100,000 was paid out in bounties of $50 each, that would result in 2,000 coyotes controlled at a fraction of the current cost.  

One last thought. I often run into landowner resistance to access, primarily because they believe that only the predator officer should be let on the property. Money could be spent on education of willing sportspersons and private business similar, to the Game & Fish hunter safety programs, coupled with supervised, referral to cooperative landowners who partner with hunters and trappers. I would be happy to volunteer my time to that effort.

One man must have a hard time efficiently covering a 4,500 square mile county. I limit myself to about 200 square miles and that’s tough. It makes for job security, but in tight times, no wonder legislators don’t want to subsidize predator control. It’s time to look at a new, private market approach.

David Spencer

Buffalo

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