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Coyote Lottery program a success; will expand this year

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By Tom Wilmoth

    A program to help encourage coyote hunting here in Bedford County was so successful last year, it is expanding this year.

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    Last year’s coyote lottery had a jackpot of $2,000 funded entirely by local businesses and organizations.
     The lottery, established by the Bedford County Agricultural Economic Development Advisory Board, was set up to entice hunters and trappers to participate in the program to help manage the growing threat of the predators on livestock.
    The program ran last year from Nov. 1, 2012 -March 1, 2013, and allowed participants to receive one entry in the drawing per coyote killed when they brought the carcass or intact head to the check-in point at Southern States in Bedford to be counted. Hunters were required to dispose of the carcass following check-in at Southern States. There was no limit to the number of entries each hunter could have.
    Only coyotes killed by the applicant within the boundaries of Bedford County during the lottery program were eligible. Applicants were required to document the address or location where the coyote was killed.    
    Bedford County’s Coyote Lottery ended on March 1 and the winner was announced with a ceremonial check presentation in front of Southern States. Ray Turpin, who turned in 30 coyotes, was the winner of the $2,000 jackpot. The money for the jackpot was provided by contributions from Bedford County Farm Bureau, Spring Lake Livestock Market, Powers Tractor, the James River Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Foundation, Boone Tractor, Cresswell Custom Cattle and Holdren-Stanley Insurance.
    Last year’s lottery helped get rid of 50 breeding pairs. Coyotes range in size from 25 pounds to 55 pounds, with a 55 pound coyote being unusually large.
    The goal is to encourage hunters to take that extra shot at a coyote, if one is spotted. “Since it was so successful, we decided to try it again,” stated Bedford County Extension Agent Scott Baker.
    This year, building on last year’s success, three cash prizes will be offered. There will be a $2,000 grand prize again this year, along with second and third place prizes. “We’re still raising money,” Baker noted.
    He said coyotes, classified as “nuisance species” have grown in numbers in this area. The goal is to help reduce that problem.
    He said farmers are seeing more coyotes in the area than they ever have.
    “They’re a very adaptive creature,” he said. “As they become more accustomed to an area, they become more brazen.”
    Last year between 60 to 70 hunters entered the lottery. “Obviously some entered more than once,” Baker said. “Now the word’s out. We would like to think we would get even more participation.”
    Check-in this year will again be at Southern States. There is a specific protocol that has to be followed to check in an animal.
    “We don’t want people doing anything they shouldn’t be doing,” he added of the lottery.
    He said supporting the program has become a community effort. Baker said it’s a private-public partnership “that requires no public funds.”
    “We’re pretty proud of that,” Baker said.
    The Virginia Cooperative Extension office, in Bedford, maintains a list of experienced trappers that people having coyote problems can call for help. The Cooperative Extension can be reached by calling (540) 586-7675.