The Department of Natural Resources is recommending several coyote hunting regulation changes to the Natural Resources Commission this month, including year-round hunting opportunities and implementation of a Michigan United Conservation Clubs and Michigan Trappers and Predator Callers Association resolution to allow the use of #3 and #4 buckshot at night for coyotes.
(Photo Michigan DNR by Dave Kenyon)
Coyotes are found throughout Michigan in both rural and urban areas. With an increase in complaints from the public regarding coyotes, the Department believes that an expansion on the opportunities to take coyotes may help reduce these concerns.
Back at the September 2015 Natural Resources Commission meeting, the Wildlife Division (WLD) presented material on different options for liberalizing the harvest of coyotes, along with summaries of surrounding states' current coyote regulations. During the January 2016 meeting the NRC gave the WLD the go-ahead to propose a wildlife order extending the length of the coyote hunting season and to expand the nighttime harvest methods.
Following those meetings the Department held discussions with internal staff and many external stakeholders to develop recommendations to amend our state's Wildlife Conservation Order. The amendment would include expanding the coyote season to statewide, year round, along with clarifying nighttime hunting of furbearers, and to expand the time frame in which nighttime hunting with artificial lights may occur. The Department is also giving a recommendation to expand allowable ammunition for taking all furbearers which may be hunted at night to include both 3 and number 4 buckshot.
Michigan’s current coyote regulations include daytime coyote hunting from July 15th to April 15th which is a liberal season with a few minor restrictions on the methods of take, devices, and ammunition. The current season for nighttime coyote hunting is from October 15th to March 31st. However, the nighttime coyote hunting season is a restricted season with limited methods of take, devices and ammunition. Individuals must possess a fur-harvester or resident base license. Throughout the entire year, individuals may take a coyote on private property if the coyote is causing or about to cause damage.
The new recommendation that the Department developed would expand daytime coyote hunting season statewide, year round, and would provide an additional 3 months of daytime coyote hunting from the current regulations. However, an individual may not train dogs on game (including coyote) from April 16th to July 7th and the Department's recommendation maintains this limitation to prohibit the use of dogs to hunt or train on coyotes during that time period.
Michigan’s current nighttime species regulations allows the nighttime take of raccoon, opossum, fox and coyote. The season for raccoon is currently from October 1st to January 31st and allows for the aid of dogs or game call or predator call. The nighttime season for opossum is currently from September 15th to March 31st and allows for the use of a game or predator call. Fox and coyote may be taken at night with dogs. Artificial lights may be used during this time frame for take if the season for the species of interest is open and all device regulations are followed.
The Department's new recommendation would allow the use of artificial lights for the take of raccoon, opossum, fox and coyote during the open season for take by the species being hunted. The recommendation also allows the take of raccoon, opossum, fox, and coyote at night with the aid of a light in their respective open season. Nighttime hunters would be required to hunt with the aid of game call or predator call or with the aid of dogs only.
Hunters who are using the aid of dogs may only have a firearm, crossbow, or bow and arrow loaded at the point of kill. This will allow for consistency between all nighttime species regulations. With the expanding of the coyote hunting season, the nighttime use of artificial lights for the take of coyote would add an additional 5.5 months from current regulations.
These changes significantly expand coyote hunting opportunities, allowing individuals interested in taking coyotes more opportunity than just the daytime hunting expansion recommendation.