by Aaron Post, Missouri Conservation Agent
One of the most common wildlife-related concerns I hear about from people in both urban and rural portions of Platte County involves coyotes. Everyone from suburban homeowners to cattle ranchers and landowners experience coyotes where they live and do business.
Coyotes are one of the most common predators in Missouri and are remarkably well adapted to living around us. They are opportunistic predators and scavengers. They prey primarily on rodents and small game such as rabbits and squirrels. They will occasionally take fawn deer.
As a result of a depressed fur market, trapping coyotes and other furbearers has almost completely disappeared. The populations of these animals have increased significantly. Now, trapping is done as a nuisance control business rather than a fur harvest and sale business.
Citizens in Missouri approached the Missouri Department of Conservation two years ago looking for other opportunities to control coyote populations and minimize the nuisance interactions and damage they are causing. As a result, a new coyote hunting season was enacted. The season runs from Feb. 1 through March 31. It allows properly licensed hunters to take coyotes using artificial light, night vision, or thermal imagery in conjunction with other legal hunting methods.
What this means is Missouri residents must have a valid small game hunting permit. Nonresidents must have a valid nonresident furbearer hunting and trapping permit. Legal methods include legal firearms and archery equipment.
This does not allow the use of a motor vehicle, including headlights, to pursue coyotes. It does not allow for shooting from a public roadway. Hunters must have landowner permission and must follow all laws regarding the discharge of a firearm. The season is only for coyotes.
The season for all other furbearers (foxes, bobcats, raccoons, etc.) is closed during this time. Please be aware that it is still illegal in Missouri to possess night vision or thermal imagery with a firearm outside of this special season.
I encourage landowners and hunters who experience coyote damage throughout the year or feel that the coyote population is too high on their property to take advantage of this new season and the opportunity it provides to control coyotes on their property. It is timed perfectly to take coyotes in the months leading up to the spring calving season.
If you have questions regarding this or any other conservation related issue, please call me at (816) 244-0702. You can also call Conservation Agent Doug Yeager at (816) 835-6086.
If you suspect a wildlife violation has been committed, you can call Operation Game Thief at (800) 392-1111. You can remain anonymous, and rewards are possible.