The Bounty Hunter

Published on: Aug. 21, 2012

From time to time we receive questions on why the Department doesn’t offer a bounty to control predators. At first glance the concept sounds simple. Offer folks a little money to turn in raccoon tails, snake heads and coyote ears and they’ll harvest more. If they harvest more, that means there will be more deer, turkey, quail and rabbit for hunters to harvest. Sounds simple enough.

I Was A Preschool Bounty Hunter

Heck, in the early 1960s, when I was growing up in southeast Nebraska I was actually a preschool bounty hunter. Unfortunately, there will never be a TV show about my bounty hunter escapades. My very first recollection of wildlife was a coyote den that each year we smoked the coyotes from and turned in for a bounty. Despite a yearly raid on the den, there always seemed to be coyotes in it each spring. It was always my duty to shine a light down one entrance to the den and yell out if I saw the coyotes or catch the pups if they attempted to escape. It was very exciting to see the glow of the pup’s eyes as they passed by this particular den entrance. Fortunately, I never did have to catch one!

We would go with my grandfather to turn in the coyote ears at the courthouse to collect the bounty. With the few dollars we earned we would head for the drive-in and partake in the treasured root-beer float. Such were the days in the life of a preschool bounty hunter. In spite of the bounty we still had coyotes and fox raid the chicken yard on a regular basis. Enough coyotes survived the bounty for the local coyote hunters to still pursue their prey. So, bounty hunting was a paying proposition for a preschooler, but did it get rid of the coyotes?

What History Tells Us

We only need to look at history to see bounties are ineffective at improving game species, are costly and do little to recruit new hunters. A cash reward for dead animals is hardly a new concept. A variety of wildlife has had a price on its head as early as the 17th century when the first white settlers arrived in North America. Even Missouri had a bounty for coyotes back in the 1850s and 1930s(for the record, I didn’t have a chance to participate in Missouri’s coyote bounty). In the past, states have offered

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On August 27th, 2012 at 3:39pm Hotel Developers said:

quail and rabbit for hunters to harvest. Sounds simple enough.

On August 23rd, 2012 at 2:40pm whitew said:

Greg, that is what we were trying to get at is to manage the habitat to discourage predators. You are spot on in your thinking. Discouraging mice and other small mammals makes the area less attractive to the larger predators. That canopy of weeds will keep most aerial predators off good quail habitat, too. The brushpiles of most concern are those that contain large amounts of dirt and root wads. that is where you find the predator dens. Our loose brush piles like created during edgefeathering have more benefits than drawbacks. The single trees are definitely a perch for aerial predators to hunt from (owls and Cooper's are the biggest threat). Thanks for your post.

On August 23rd, 2012 at 1:40pm Greg said:

I see no reason to incourage quail predators with certain habitat "improvements". I would like to understand what can be done or not done to limit predator habitat. For example, fire creates more open grasslands. Doesn't this reduce snake habitat and improve it for quail? Doesn't those brush piles put in ditches create racoon and possum habitat with no benefit for quail? Doesn't leaving a couple of trees in the grass landscape create perches for Coopers hawks?
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