DOUG LEIER: Coyote catalog seeks landowner participation
For as often as I hear people lament the electronic age we live in, there's always a flip side.
While I'll never spend more time looking at my phone than at a bobber, I'll also never intentionally leave the phone at home, either, because it provides nearly instant emergency access and could be a lifesaver.
So, I've always suggested that the user, not the tools, are the key, and put to proper use, technology and electronics work for us in a variety of ways in the outdoor world. One good example is a program the North Dakota Game and Fish Department developed a few years ago to match up deer hunters who had doe licenses, with landowners who wanted to reduce deer populations on their properties.
Using the Game and Fish Department's website (gf.nd.gov) as the hub, hunters could sign up and indicate for which unit(s) they had licenses and then receive information on landowners in the appropriate units who were willing to host doe hunters.
The success of this program was such that many landowners got to know hunters who wanted to hunt does every year and simply invited them back so they didn't really need the matching service any longer.
Game and Fish and the North Dakota Department of Agriculture are looking to realize the same type of success with a new program called the Coyote Catalog, which is designed to connect coyote hunters and trappers with landowners who want fewer coyotes in their area.
"We've had a lot of success matching deer hunters with landowners," said Game and Fish Director Terry Steinwand. "We hope the Coyote Catalog works out just as well."
Department of Agriculture officials estimate livestock producers in North Dakota lost more than $1 million last year to coyotes. At the same time, coyotes are a popular furbearer species for hunters and trappers.
Since the 2013-14 Coyote Catalog opened in early December, more than 600 hunters and trappers had signed up as of Jan. 3. The number of participating landowners was 48.
"I encourage landowners, especially farmers and ranchers who have problems with coyote depredation, to sign up for the Coyote Catalog," said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring. "Hunting and trapping are valuable tools in managing these predators."
Landowners can sign up on the ag department's website at nd.gov/ndda/coyote-catalog. Required information includes county and contact information.
Hunters and trappers can sign up on the Game and Fish website at gf.nd.gov.
Periodically throughout the winter, hunters or trappers will receive information on participating landowners, and they then can contact landowners to make arrangements.
Although the Coyote Catalog does not guarantee a good match for every participating landowner or hunter, Goehring and Steinwand said it has great potential to focus hunting or trapping pressure in areas where farmers and ranchers are experiencing coyote depredation problems.
Anyone who registered for the Coyote Catalog in the past must register again to activate their names on the database.
The Coyote Catalog will remain active through March 31 and then start up again next winter.
Like any project or program, the Game and Fish Department understands it's not for every landowner or hunter, but in this day and age, it's another useful tool to help bridge the gap and work toward mutual goals.
Leier is a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at dougleier.areavoices.com.