– Tommy Springer, Wildlife Specialist, Fairfield County Soil and Water Conservation District
When the Ohio Division of Wildlife released its proposed changes to the 2020-2021 hunting and trapping regulations, probably no proposal received more attention than the one to clarify the classification of coyotes as a furbearer and include them in the regulated trapping season along with other furbearers such as raccoon and fox (OAC 1501:31-15-09). Under current regulations, coyotes can be hunted and trapped year-round. This new proposal would only affect the trapping portion. Hunting will remain open all year with no bag limit.
As this proposal clears up the legal language that coyotes are considered furbearers, in addition to having an annual hunting license, this proposal requires hunters and trappers to also purchase the fur taker permit that is required to hunt or trap furbearers. Currently, hunters and trappers targeting coyotes are exempt from purchasing a fur taker permit. Remaining as in the past, landowners hunting or trapping coyotes on their own property are exempt from purchasing a hunting license or fur taker permit.
Another change implemented if this proposal passes will be the requirement for all individuals trapping coyotes to complete a trapper education course. Currently, this course is only required if trapping furbearers which, again, coyotes would now be considered per this proposal. If you have previously completed a trapper education course in Ohio or any other state, you will not be affected by this change. Worth noting, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s trapper education course is free and offered as both an instructor-led and a home study option. Materials can be printed or viewed online. The completed test answer sheet is then mailed to the Division of Wildlife after which they will mail you a certification card pending a passing score.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this proposal that needs clarification is what it does not change with regards to how producers can deal with nuisance coyotes harassing, harming or killing their livestock. The key components that are not affected by this proposal are the current nuisance wildlife laws which can be found under Ohio Administrative Code 1501:31-15-03 “Nuisance wild animal control” and Ohio Revised Code 1531.40 “Nuisance wild animal removal or control services; license.” Under these nuisance wild animal laws, coyotes may be trapped or killed year-round if they are considered sick, injured or a nuisance.
Now, with regards to nuisance wild animals, I always recommend starting a dialog with your local wildlife officer to discuss problems you may be having and get on the same page about how you plan to address these nuisance animals. Changes that went into effect in 2013 eliminated requirements for private individuals to be commercially licensed nuisance wild animal control operators when removing certain nuisance wildlife outside of the closed seasons under the caveat that they may not charge a fee or otherwise receive compensation for their control efforts. Bringing your wildlife officer into the loop before you start removing nuisance wildlife will help prevent misunderstandings if your actions are reported by neighbors or other observers.
If you have any questions or concerns about your ability to control nuisance coyotes under this proposed change, don’t hesitate to reach out to your wildlife officer or the Division of Wildlife district office closest to you. Public comments regarding these proposed rule changes may be made in person during a week long open house period from March 2 through 6 at any Division of Wildlife District Office, or submitted online beginning February 21, 2020.