Coyotes could be legally shot on sight anytime of the day or night under House Bill 60, which is anticipated to pass through the Senate as soon as today.
Currently, hunters can shoot coyotes during daylight hours. In response to growing concerns about the threat the animals pose to dogs, rabbits and young children, state Rep. Fitz Steele, D-Hazard, sponsored the bill, which passed easily through the House as well as the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy.
Coyotes are a serious threat, said Rep. Jonathan Shell, R-Lancaster. Shell and his family are career farmers.
“We do have a coyote problem in central Kentucky,” Shell said.
Animals rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have campaigned against the bill online and in Frankfort, labeling it as cruel. PETA’s literature expresses concerns that hunters could easily mistake cougars and foxes for coyotes.
“A lot of PETA’s concern is misguided,” Shell said. “This bill simply opens it up for hunters to shoot coyotes at night with a shotgun. That is not a cruel thing.”
Rep. Kim King, R-Harrodsburg, said she hears coyotes howling near her Mercer County home every night when she feeds her dogs.
“Coyotes pose a danger to small children and are also very dangerous to livestock,” King said.
Doug Morgan, president of the Kentucky Houndsmen Association and a Hazard resident, strongly supports House Bill 60 and has visited Frankfort several times recently to express his views to legislators. One of his dogs was killed by a coyote.
“The Kentucky Houndsmen Association has worked for this bill’s passage since day one,” Morgan said. “This will give people a tool to manage a species that really has overtaken the state.”
Morgan is concerned that animal rights groups are attempting to protect coyotes.
“I’ve read handouts that say coyotes should be protected just like bald eagles,” Morgan said.
“To compare a bald eagle to a coyote is just wrong. Bald eagles are not dangerous and are an endangered species. Coyotes decimate deer, dogs and grazing animals like horses, cattle and sheep. In larger communities, they prey on house pets. There are way too many coyotes in Kentucky, and they are certainly not endangered.”
Morgan expressed appreciation for Steele’s efforts.
Steele did not return a call seeking comment as of this morning.