October 22, 2020

Outdoors Appalachia

Hunting, Fishing, Camping, Hiking, Kayaking and Canoeing in Appalachia

Coyotes are big a problem in Kentucky

4 min read

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Coyotes were first spotted in the state during the late 70s quickly and they drifted toward central and southeastern regions of the state within a few years. With no natural predator, except man, they have flourished statewide.

These animals were initially found mostly in prairies and deserts but they are able to adapt to almost any environment.

These mammals are omnivores and very opportunistic, eating almost anything. Known to kill deer, rabbits, livestock and even small family pets, they have become a notorious and destructive pest in Kentucky.

They also possess  keen vision and sense of smell. They also have the ability to run up to 40 miles per hour, making them a formidable challenge for any local hunter.

Experts maintain that coyotes were able to migrate eastward by crossing the Mississippi River when it was frozen. It was noted that during the late 70s the midwest experienced back-to-back hard winters that possibly allowed them to advance into the eastern states.

It is also rumored that a small number of the animals were introduced into Madison County to control a pesky groundhog population near the chemical igloos.

Despite these allegations, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife has denied all reports of transplanting coyotes into the state.

With no natural predator, they were able populate and spreading throughout the state, often remaining unchecked except when caught in an occasional trap.

“Coyotes in Kentucky have co-existed with man for the past 40 years, people just weren’t aware of their existence” said Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Spokesman Mark Marraccini. “There are a few isolated incidents of coyote problems, but overall pets and livestock have some minor risks”.

One person who is helping thin out the local coyote population is nationally recognized predator hunter Al Prather.  

Prather, a native of Central Kentucky and former Lexington Fire Fighter, is currently a field staff member of FOXPRO, a national manufacturer of hunting game calls. An avid hunter/outdoorsman throughout his life, Prather started predator hunting when a family member asked him to tag along and help after having issues with a pack of coyotes harassing some local farmers

It only took one time, and since that eventful day, he’s dedicated himself to hunting only coyotes.

“I was really intrigued how smart an animal a coyote can be. They can really humble even the best of hunters” Prather said. “In order to hunt coyote, you have to have a different mindset … you have to think like a coyote or you will come home disappointed”.

Learning by trial and error, Prather has perfected his strategy to out-maneuver the clever predator by using his FOXPRO ecaller, often accented with mouth calls, scents, decoys and camouflage. Armed with a Browning .243 rifle, he prefers this caliber due to its flat shooting trajectory, which allowed him to post his best kill shot at 511 yards.

Although Prather’s hunting efforts are well-known from the thoroughbred racing farms of the bluegrass to small farms situated throughout the state, he admits shooting individual coyotes actually hasn’t made a dent in the population.

Recently, a Lexington man was having a coyote nuisance on his farm. Prather hunted five-straight days only to bag two animals. The following week the landowner placed traps and snares yielding 14 coyotes in only five days, which was a big improvement in the name of predator control.

Generally coyotes will avoid human contact and reports of being attacked by the predator are extremely rare. This is no longer the case in Kentucky.

They are a wild predatory animal and very dangerous and VERY unpredictable.

One thing to remember is these animals can become more aggressive at time when food sources become limited. If you do have a coyote problem in your area here are some tips to help reduce/eliminate these conditions.

– Remove pets food sources — If you feed your pets outside, remove the food when you leave

– Eliminate other food sources — Coyotes will eat almost anything, so use metal trash cans with tight-fitting lids to remove an easy/consistent food source.

– Clear brush piles — Coyotes use low-growing shrubs/brush piles to hide, with proper trimming this can eliminate an area in which the animal fells safe.

– Keeps pets safe — Small animals, such as a cat or dog are the predator’s No. 1 food source. Keep the area well-lit and supervised.

– Respond aggressively — If you see a coyote on your property, shout, make loud noises and throw rocks or whatever to drive them away. Do not let them feel comfortable on your property.

– Call a licensed professional (Including Hunters)— If you should encounter a coyote problem, contact an animal control expert who can fully assess/address the problem this will ensure a humane removal of the animal.

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