Either the coyote is truly an elusive predator, or very few Delaware hunters are interested in going after the canine prey.
Delaware’s first coyote hunting and trapping season was, in a word, uneventful. Only one coyote, a male, was harvested by a deer hunter in the Hockessin area on Jan. 23.
State wildlife leaders were surprised that the first coyote season was somewhat of a bust. “It is unclear if the lone coyote harvested is indicative of coyote population size, the partial hunting trapping season, or a lack of awareness of the harvest reporting requirement,” said David Sudeikis, director of the Division of Fish and Wildlife.
“The full hunting and trapping season starting later this year will provide additional opportunities for coyote harvest, with the required reporting an important tool in helping the division scientifically estimate and manage the coyote population.”
The state opened the abbreviated hunting season on Jan. 11. That season concluded on March 10. Later this year, the normal coyote hunting season will run from Sept. 1 through the end of February, with the trapping season running from Dec. 1 through March 10.
The state’s next hunting and trapping guide will include a special section on coyotes to inform the public of the opportunity to hunt coyotes and the requirements of reporting any kills.
Coyotes in Delaware
Within the past 10 years, coyotes have expanded their territory to include the state of Delaware. There is currently estimated to be 50 to 100 living in all three counties. Coyotes can threaten small farm animals as well as cats and small dogs. Coyotes may have been responsible for killing turkeys at TA Farms near Dover in the fall of 2012.
To ensure the coyote population is properly managed, the state launched the hunting season earlier this year after some debate over whether a limited hunting season was enough. Some, like state Sen. David Lawson, R-Marydel, fought for a year-round coyote hunting season because of the threat the animals pose to landowners and farmers.
As part of an effort to assuage those fears, an order was approved by DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara allowing landowners to kill coyotes that threaten human safety, livestock or pets. So far, no reports of any landowner killing a coyote under that order has been reported.