As we get deeper into January, some Iowan’s thoughts are turning to coyotes.
Iowa Department of Natural Resources state furbearer biologist Vince Evelsizer says there’s a continual season on coyotes — but these winter days tend to get more hunters seeking the animal.
“There’s more focus this time of year because there’s typically snow cover, a lot of the other hunting seasons are closing down after January 10th, and so some of the outdoors folks devote their time and attention to the coyote,” Evelsizer explains.
Another draw is the price paid for the fur of the animal. “Pelt value has remain decent for coyotes,” Evelsizer says, “mostly because of the trim trade where the coyote pelts are utilized in the hood of coats and jackets and that sort of thing.” He says Iowa pelts can bring between $15 and $25 depending on their quality.
In Iowa you can trap coyotes during the trapping season, or you can hunt them with a gun. Evelsizer says the method used to catch a coyote varies based on personal preference.
“Some guys do very well calling in coyotes. Other guys do well working together in groups of hunters and getting them that way. Whereas some trappers do well trapping them, so it just kind of depends,” he says. Evelsizer says the state population of coyotes has been steady to increasing, with the western and southwestern areas seeing more of the animals than in the eastern part of the state.
“For the past couple of years we’ve had record harvests. It varies from year-to-year, but lately it’s been from 12 to 15-thousand coyotes harvested annually,” Evelsizer says. There are fewer rules in hunting these animals. You can use predator calls, hunt day or night, use high powered rifles, hunt over bait and use groups of hunters and or hounds to round them up. There is no bag limit and coyotes. Evelsizer says the rules are more liberal for hunting coyotes because they are very good at avoiding detection. And they are very resilient in adapting to their habitat.
“Coyotes have the ability to compensate with liter size. Meaning that, in years when their numbers are down, the average litter size is typically higher because there is more food available. It’s sort of their way of rebuilding their numbers,” according to Evelsizer. “In years when coyote numbers are higher, the average liter size may be lower.” While there are fewer regulations to hunt coyotes — Evelsizer says hunters need to take some precautions.
“An adult coyote typically weighs around 35 to 40 pounds — but that can vary a little bit — so they are typically about the size of a dog,” Evelsizer says. “The number one thing for hunters is to be sure of their target so that they don’t mistake it for some sort of hybrid dog, coyote or a wolf for that matter. So, we just encourage hunters be sure of their target.”
He says there has been an increase in the number of reported wolf sightings over the years as they may’ve migrated in from Wisconsin or Minnesota. There have been at least four wolves shot by coyote hunters during the last two years. Wolves are protected in Iowa and there is no open season He says you can tell the difference between the two animals, by the more pointed snout and larger ears of the coyote.
their body. Wolves are taller than coyotes and have long front legs and a heavier, squarer frame. You can find out more about coyote hunting on the DNR’s website.