April 16, 2022
By Mark Kayser
Alabama’s recent legislation to allow the night hunting of coyotes and feral hogs is just another step by states to help wildlife affected by these species. Coyotes and feral hogs have both spread across whitetail country, causing habitat damage along with predation effects on deer populations.
Controlling Predator Populations
Coyotes, once a predator of the open prairies and West, transitioned easterly with the opening of forests and agricultural undertakings. Hogs arrived on our shores from shipments believed to date as far back as
Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto’s arrival. It is estimated feral hogs annually contribute more than $800 million in damage to agriculture and habitat by a population of approximately 4 million feral hogs. Alabama estimates that feral hogs cause $50 million in private property damage annually alone.
The spread of coyotes is harder to track along with damage estimates, but as more research is documented, coyotes are clearly becoming a detriment to whitetail herds nationwide. Studies from the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina reveal that coyotes were responsible for 80 percent of approximately 70 percent total fawn mortality at this site.
Other states have also been passing new rules for night hunting of these species. Kansas recently passed legislation to allow night hunting of coyotes in early 2021 with the aid of night vision and thermal optics. Like Alabama, hunters simply purchase a license for the opportunity to hunt at night during special seasons.
Matt Weathers, chief of enforcement with the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries, looks at the new permit as a good thing for hunters, wildlife and wildlands. “It represents a new hunting activity for the state, and it will enlist as many as 200,000 hunters in this fight against two insidious predators,” says Weathers. “So, a new hunting activity; that’s a good thing. You have more feral swine and coyotes being removed from the state; that’s a good thing, too. It’s a win-win.”