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Lawmakers moved Monday to more than double the bounty on coyotes. And the animals are wanted dead or, well, dead.
The Senate voted 23-5 to pass SB25 by Sen. Ralph Okerlund, R-Monroe, to increase bounties on coyotes to $50 each, up from about $20 in most counties. Okerlund said the $20 bounty did not cover the costs for most hunters who hunt coyotes.
If the bill is also passed by the House, Okerlund hopes the increase will encourage hunters to kill 20,000 or more of the animals.
Instead of calling the bill the Kill Coyotes Act, Okerlund calls it the Mule Deer Protection Act.
"In a lot of the [deer] herds across the state, we are at less than 50 percent of target numbers," Okerlund said. "We have an almost emergency situation where we have to do something to try to bring these herds back before we lose them."
He blames coyotes for the decimation. He said they are also wreaking havoc on livestock.
"One sheep producer in Sanpete County said that he lost $30,000 worth of lambs in one week" to coyotes. "That's one producer in one week."
The bill is opposed by the Humane Society of Utah. Its director, Gene Baierschmidt, has said annihilation of coyotes may do nothing to aid deer populations in different areas of the state. He has questioned whether the push to raise the bounty is based on science or guesswork.