Coyotes: Shoot ’em or Trap ’em?


For the last few months, I have heard a steady string of complaints from my neighbours and other rural people primarily in Alberta and Saskatchewan about the coyotes this year. Not only the number of them, but how brave they are coming into our yards and barnyards. One of the sales reps here at Cowboy Country lost her dog to coyotes this fall, which has brought up the conversation of how to deal with them. The common idea is to shoot them, but this article brings up the idea of trapping and whether it is a practical choice or not… 


When coyotes get out of control, who you going to call?

Greg McKinnon recommends a trapper.

“Trappers are different than animal control and hunters,” said McKinnon, a trapper from Blackfalds and a member of the Alberta Trappers’ Association.

“Trappers study the animal, understand the animal, and use their knowledge of the animal in order to capture it.”

Animal problems in the province are increasing as acreages expand and urbanites move into rural areas, he said.

“Today, there’s a need for trappers to be on the landscape and we’re dealing with the animals with the best tools and knowledge that we can use.”

Negative perceptions of trapping are out of date, he said, as new traps and snaring devices are much more humane and continually being improved, he said.

Traps are so humane now that a neighbour’s dog can be trapped, and released without injury.

“When you kill an animal, you should do it as quickly and as effectively as you can,” he said.

Coyotes generally hunt mice, gophers and other small animals, and the best strategy is to take out the troublemakers.

“You should be focused on the problem animal, not the species in general, because you will not wipe out coyotes,” said McKinnon.

Coyote management on a ranch should be done continuously, and the cost part of the annual budget. A well-maintained fence should be viewed as a defendable perimeter. “You need to let them know that they’re not allowed in and do everything to keep them out,” said McKinnon.

Prompt carcass removal, guard animals, changing routines, and shooting deter coyotes, said McKinnon, adding the best strategy is to cut coyote numbers in the fall, and then deal with problem animals during calving or lambing season.

Fall is also the best time to trap, as coyotes have dispersed from their dens and are looking for food. Trapping season runs from October to the end of March, when the animal’s fur is prime.

Modern foothold traps are designed so that they will not break an animal’s foot and blood can still circulate through the leg. This prevents an animal from chewing off its own foot, which can only happens when the foot is frozen or the bone is broken.

Traps should be set for three or four days, and then moved to another spot. Trappers are required to check traps at least every 24 hours on farmland, or every 48 hours on crown land. Good spots are near fence lines or water sources. When set properly, a trap is free of a human’s scent and well hidden.

Snares are also used to trap. They are rings of unbreakable wire that lock around an animal’s neck. When a snare is triggered, a spring inside the mechanism causes it to tighten quickly around an animal’s neck and chokes it to death. It’s harder to kill an animal using a neck snare. Snares are usually set along paths where animals regularly travel, but they can trap other animals accidentally, including neighbourhood dogs and deer.

“This is a very effective tool, but it’s not for everyone,” said McKinnon.

To learn more about trapping courses or to find a trapper in your area, contact the Alberta Trappers’ Association.

Source: Ag Canada


Join the conversation… Do you think that a trapper should be called to deal with the brave coyotes lurking around our animals and home, or is it better just to deal with it ourselves? Let us know what you think!