Coyotes are amazing opportunists. After humans nearly wiped out one of their only predators (wolves), coyotes spread into previously unoccupied areas of the country, like the Southeast. Many states are responding to growing populations by declaring open seasons at all times of the day and even organizing hunting contests to reward those who can kill the most coyotes. At the same time, coyotes are live-trapped and traded across state lines for sale into penning facilities—enclosures designed to confine coyotes and foxes. Packs of hunting dogs are released into such enclosures to attack and often kill the captive wild canids.
North Carolina exemplifies this conundrum: While frustrated about the growing number of coyotes in the state, the state also has more coyote and fox penning operations than all of the other states combined; an estimated 145–180, not including those operating without permits. Coyotes escaping from these penning facilities are evidently a large part of how coyotes got to eastern North Carolina so quickly, along with the illegal public release (translocation) of imported coyotes into the region for hunting.
There are serious disease and health-related issues associated with transporting coyotes across state lines. While state law requires that anyone seeking to import a coyote into North Carolina first obtain a permit from the state veterinarian, enforcement is poor. Such transportation of wildlife has been implicated in the spread of rabies and other zoonoses dangerous to wildlife, domestic animals, and people.
In an effort to address this problem, AWI will be working on a bill in the North Carolina legislature to establish tighter controls over the transportation of coyotes into the state.