Aggressive animals: N.S. expected to offer trappers new bounty for coyotes
HALIFAX, N.S. - Nova Scotia's natural resources minister is expected to announce a new bounty on coyotes on Thursday in a bid to ease public fears that the animals are becoming more aggressive.
John MacDonell declined to offer details of his plan, but he indicated Wednesday that the bounty will be offered only to Nova Scotia trappers.
"(It's) an incentive for more people to think about taking more coyotes," he said outside the legislature. "Trappers seem to indicate that more trapping pressure makes the coyotes more wary."
The Trappers Association of Nova Scotia has said it is in favour of the bounty.
Trappers have taken 9,100 coyotes in the past five years, but the numbers have fallen off in recent years because of declining pelt prices, now hovering around $19 to $23.
But the opposition Liberals say MacDonell is ignoring advice from his own scientists by even considering a bounty.
Critic Leo Glavine pointed out that the minister's own website includes submissions from biologists who cite scientific studies that prove bounties don't work.
"They're telling us that it's not the way to go," he said, adding that live-trapping of individual nuisance animals is the best way to deal with the problem.
As well, he said the minister has already conceded that the province suspended offering a bounty for coyotes in the 1990s when it became clear it simply didn't work.
Glavine said the province has been under pressure to act since the mauling death last fall of a Toronto woman who was hiking in Cape Breton.
As well, residents have reported several close calls with the wild animals in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, parents of students at a school in Port Hawkesbury asked for a fence to be built around the property because of recent coyote sightings.
The parents were told MacDonell's department will be setting up snares in the area to trap the animals, three of which were sighted near the school in recent months.
Glavine said it appears the minister is bending to political pressure rather than making a decision based on sound science.
"Sometimes we can jump too quickly and we can jump against very good advice ... because there's a lot of pressure on him to do something," Glavine said outside the legislature.
"So he's feeling the pressure ... I know that if there's a bounty or a cull, it's not the way to go."
Last week, the head of the province's Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Tony Rodgers, said a bounty would be a waste of taxpayers' money, motivated by politics rather than science.
He said killing more coyotes won't make them more afraid of humans.
MacDonell said he's aware that bounties are ineffective as a means of reducing the coyote population, but he stressed that he felt compelled to act.
"I don't want to be always reactive ... that's not good enough anymore."
He also confirmed that his plan includes an education program aimed at showing residents how to reduce coyote encounters.
On Oct. 28, singer-songwriter Taylor Mitchell died in hospital after the rare attack in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Police said the Toronto woman was hiking alone when a pair of coyotes attacked for no apparent reason.
The fatality was the first of its kind in Nova Scotia and only the second recorded in North America.
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