March 1 marked the beginning of the annual coyote challenge. For the 2nd year in a row the state is sponsoring the competition to allow the hunter who brings in the most coyotes to be entered into drawings for a chance to win a lifetime hunting license or prize of similar value.
Trapper Jason Chapman is among this year's participants.
"This is our trapping pack basket, it's got all of our equipment, it's got our traps ready to go," said Chapman is also with Predator Control Services, a company that provides wildlife removal for a wide range of animals. That day Chapman was once again in search of what he calls nuisance coyotes. "The population has just exploded in the last five years even in these urban environments and that's just not good to have," added Chapman.
The wooded area behind homeowner Kim Waldrop property is the focus of Chapman's trapping expedition. The property is sandwiched between a school and a residential neighborhood and Waldrop says it isn't uncommon to see a coyote roaming the area. "Just three or four nights ago we saw them cut across the back area in front of our storage area and into that wooded lot right there. They just trotted right around like obviously this is his home as much as it is ours, but it's just not.
State of Georgia also recognizes the problem and say the Coyote Challenge is an effort to control the coyote population. As part of the effort citizens throughout the state can trap and kill coyotes, then send a picture of their kill to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to be entered into the drawings that will take place every two months between March and August. Champion, has already submitted a coyote to the competition and he's hoping his latest trapping efforts will add to his submissions.
"We use live catch foot restrains which hold the animals in place, the best way to describe it is think of it as handcuffs for a coyote, it hold them until we can come remove them, it's the safest for the animal and it's the most humane way to handle them," added Champion.
But not everyone is in support of the effort, "The Georgia Coyote Challenge is something that our organization has been very outspoken against, we do not agree with" said Dr. Chris Mowry a biologist from Berry College.
Mowry is also the Founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project and he says we need to find a way to co-exist with the coyotes because killing them will only have an adverse effect. "Killing coyotes often times leads to unintended consequences and that is more coyotes. It may knock the population down for a little while but what happens, is you will free up individuals to breed who weren't breeding before."
Mowry says as the new coyotes breed their population will soar. In addition, he adds coyotes are helping to balance the ecosystem by controlling the rodent population. But, beyond that Mowry says the process is just inhumane. He also pointed out the timing of the challenge coincides with breading season, he says in many cases parent coyotes are killed and their cubs are left to roam the area in search of food, a process that once again increases the possibility of human contact. But, for Waldrop who hire Chapman to remove the coyotes because her family is already having negative interactions with the animals and she says something has to be done. "I'm very nervous because they are just so active and all over the place .
Sentiments Chapman echoed, "There are way too many coyotes out there right now the population has just sky rocketed and when I'm pulling 10 or 15 out of a small subdivision we know we have a problem.
As of Tuesday only 17 coyote entries had been turned into the challenge.
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