South Carolina would like to remind its hunters that there’s a reward out there for coyotes, and the payout is free hunting licenses for life. Every year the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, or SCDNR, tags a small number of coyotes, and any hunter who catches one gets the prize.
The SCDNR encourages hunters to take coyotes when they’re in the field in order to promote healthy deer populations across the state. “Since 2002, the SC deer population has declined by more than 30 percent,” said the SCDNR. “While our deer population is still healthy, we do not want to see it decline further.”
“Coyotes first appeared in SC about 30 years ago and continue to expand greatly in numbers,” said the department. “Coyotes are negatively impacting our official State Animal, the White-tailed deer, by preying heavily on deer fawns.”
Recently hunters and trappers have reported between about 25,000 and 30,000 coyotes taken each year, and the SCDNR is happy to say that coyote populations are getting lower and lower.
Coyotes are not native to South Carolina. According to the department, coyotes were originally imported for illegal hound running, and the animals have taken hold in the state, posing a threat to deer populations, fawns in particular.
This year the SCDNR trapped and tagged 16 coyotes, releasing four per game zone, about the same as in prior years. Since 2016 at least 64 hunters have earned their lifetime hunting permits for reporting tagged coyotes.
“Based on current harvest estimates, the overall coyote population appears to be down over 25 percent since 2014,” said the SCDNR. “This indicates that control efforts by hunters and trappers are having an impact.”
The SCDNR would like to remind hunters and trappers that there are no closed seasons on coyote on private property, that no hunting permits are required to take coyote within 100 yards of your residence, and that night hunting is permitted with some exceptions. And under no circumstances are toxicants allowed, violating state and federal laws.
As coyote populations are in decline deer harvests are increasing, and so are the number of hunters. The department reports that for the 2020 season there were well over 150,000 resident and visiting hunters in South Carolina, up from 2019 by about 10,000.
Deer hunting represents about $200 million in revenue to the state per year, along with other hunting incomes.