Markkanen, Prestin back year-round coyote hunt

State reps criticize decision to go back to nine-month season

(Photo courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Two Upper Peninsula legislators have introduced legislation to allow the year-round hunting of coyotes, contesting a March decision by the Michigan Natural Resources Commission to close the season from April 15 to July 15.

“Allowing coyotes to run unchecked is simply not an option,” said state Rep. Greg Markkanen R-Hancock, who joined state Rep. David Prestin, R-Cedar River, in introducing the bill.

“These predators don’t care about seasons or regulations; they’re a constant threat to our livestock, pets, and even our children,” Markkanen said in a news release. “We can’t afford to tiptoe around the issue. It’s time to face reality: we need to hunt coyotes year-round, no excuses, no exceptions.”

Ncommissioners heard testimony in March from supporters and opponents of the new policy. The change was recommended to prevent hunters from orphaning pups that depend on their parents for survival.

The majority of the Furtaker User Group that advises the DNR supported the regulation change.

According to Bridge Michigan, arguments were heard that allowing hunting while pups are in the den might turn the public against hunters, leading to anti-hunting policies in the future.

The DNR further noted that since the coyote hunting season was extended to year-round in 2016, statewide harvest estimates and the number of coyotes harvested per hunter have not increased.

The NRC voted 4-2 to return Michigan to the nine-month season that was in place before the switch to year-round hunting.

Under the new policy, hunters are still able to kill nuisance coyotes year-round on private land without a permit, though Prestin and Markkanen say the provision only covers certain situations.

They introduced a legislative package earlier this term to create an Upper Peninsula NRC. Under the proposal, the newly formed NRC would be comprised of only U.P. residents and would set hunting and fishing rules for everything north of the Mackinac Bridge. The bill has yet to receive a hearing in the Democratic-controlled House Committee on Natural Resources.

“The NRC admitted there are too many coyotes,” Markkanen said. “Every member was appointed by Gov. (Gretchen) Whitmer, and the law says they have to use sound science. Instead, they caved to political pressure from anti-hunting liberal activists. Their order is pure politics.”

Michigan United Conservation Clubs opposed the shortened season.

“Coyote management is most effective in the spring when you can actively control local predator populations, limit depredation and increase deer densities,” said MUCC Policy and Government Affairs Manager Justin Tomei. MUCC and Michigan Trappers & Predator Callers have filed separate lawsuits challenging the NRC’s decision.

“Coyote hunting plays a critical role in maintaining ecological balance and protecting our communities,” Prestin said. “Coyotes are resilient predators whose populations can quickly grow unchecked, posing threats to livestock and pets. By supporting year-round coyote hunting, we uphold our responsibility to manage wildlife populations responsibly.”

The bill has been referred to the House Natural Resources, Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee for consideration.


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