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Bedford County’s coyote lottery grew this year.
The 97 coyotes taken represent a slight increase over last year in spite of winter weather that created poor conditions for trapping and hunting. The number of sponsors providing prize money also grew, providing enough money to create two additional prizes.
According to Dr. Don Gardner, who is a member of the county’s agricultural board, a farmer and a large-animal veterinarian, the decision to add two new prizes, rather that raise the grand prize amount, was in response to public input. All funds for the lottery come from sponsors, so the lottery doesn’t cost the county’s taxpayers anything.
Dr. Gardner said the idea of a coyote lottery came up three years ago because county farmers were complaining about coyotes preying on their livestock. And, it wasn’t just farmers who were complaining.
“A lot of people were losing their pets,” he said.
“When coyotes get too plentiful they start feeding off domestic animals,” Gardner added.
Gardner said people originally wanted the county to pay a bounty. The agricultural board studied the issue, talked to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and looked at what other counties were doing. They came up with the lottery, instead of a bounty. The first lottery was held over the winter of 2012-2013.
The impact of hunting and trapping goes beyond the 97 coyotes that were eliminated this year.
“If they are not pursued, they get brazen,” he said. According to Dr. Gardner, people in one trailer park were seeing coyotes, sometimes multiple coyotes, trotting down the streets in broad daylight. He also said they were getting aggressive with people in some parts of the county.
According to Dr. Gardner, pursuit of coyotes by humans — hunting and trapping them — ensures they are afraid of people.
“It won’t stop them from attacking sheep at night,” he said, “but at least it keeps them out of your front yard in the daytime.”
The grand prize winner of the lottery was Les Spradlin, of Vinton. Spradlin turned in three coyotes — each coyote turned in counts as one entry.
Spradlin shot one coyote with a muzzleloader. He shot the other two with a bow, getting both on the same day within one minute.
He was in a tree, using a mouth call that mimics the squeal of a rabbit and two coyotes responded to what they thought was going to be lunch.
“One came to one side of the tree and the other came to the other side,” Spradlin said. “They were surrounding me.”
They turned out to be a male/female pair — one black and the other brown. When Spradlin hit one with an arrow, the other ran away, but quickly returned to see what happened. That’s when Spradlin got it with his second arrow.
Spradlin started hunting when he was 12 and has now hunted for 30 years. He started bow hunting 15 years ago and began hunting coyotes five years ago. He noted that coyotes haven’t been in Bedford County that long. So far he’s shot 10 coyotes with a bow.
Coyotes are a non-native species that are recent arrivals in Bedford County. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries lists them as a nuisance species, which means hunters can kill them at any time.
This year’s lottery winners were: $2000 grand prize, Les Spradlin, Chamblissburg; $1000 2nd prize, Brady McDonald, Wirtz; $500 3rd prize, Ray Turpin, Bedford; $500 4th prize, Tommy Wolfe, Altavista; $500 5th prize, Danny Jones, Bedford; and $200 6th prize, Kyle Crickenburger, Goode.
Sponsors for this year’s lottery were:
Platinum--- Bedford County Farm Bureau, Robincrest Trailer Park.
Gold---Springlake Livestock Market, Powers Tractor Co., Southern States Bedford Co-op
Silver---Boone Tractor, Cresswell Custom Cattle, James River Chapter of National Wild Turkey Federation, Glenwood Oil and Automotive, Lynchburg Livestock Market, Rainfrost Nursery, Thomasson Real Estate.
Benefactor---Deer Ridge Farm, Claytor Insurance and Real Estate, Dominion of Bedford Chrysler Jeep Dodge, United Country Properties, Moneta Farm and Home Center.