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Hunters keep coyote population under control near Howard Lake
Monday, April 1, 2013

By Jennifer Kotila
Staff Writer

HOWARD LAKE, MN – On his way to Winsted Thursday morning, Lonnie Lachermeier received a call from his brother that a coyote had been spotted on the side of the woods near his house, which is located east of Cokato on Wright County Road 5.

Lachermeier went home, dressed in his whites, and went out to hunt the coyote.

Standing behind some tall crane grass, Lachermeier made a few distressed rabbit calls, and the coyote came running towards him after a little more than a minute.

Although he missed the first shot, Lachermeier hit the coyote from about 250 yards with a second shot as it was running away from him.

Coyote hunting is a hobby Lachermeier and a group of about 10 hunters undertake from December until the snow is gone, hunting mostly in the Howard Lake and Winsted area.

This winter, they have successfully hunted 53 coyotes, which have no natural predators in this area, their only natural predator being wolves.

“We can shoot three to four of them in a section, and when we go back again, we find more,” Lachermeier said. “We’ll never get rid of them now – they’re too smart.”

About 85 percent of the coyotes killed have been found south of US Highway 12 between Howard Lake and Winsted.

“We don’t shoot them all – only the guilty-looking ones,” Lachermeier said jokingly of his hobby.

About six to eight men from the hunting group typically go out together a couple of times each week, using coon hounds trained to run coyotes.

When there is a full moon, the hunters can see to hunt at night, Lachermeier noted.

“We go in the day after it snows, look for tracks, and dump the dogs,” Lachermeier said about the hunts. “Sometimes we do a little calling, but they can get call-shy.”

For instance, if he had not shot the one he called in Thursday morning, it would probably never approach a call again.

In February, the group went out more often, hunting daily for about a week straight.

“We killed 29 coyotes – one per day – for the month,” Lachermeier said.

The population of coyotes has grown in the area, and hunters in the group often get calls from farmers who complain about them yipping.

When cows start to calve, coyotes have been known to take down the calves, Lachermeier noted.

“They like cats. I know of some farmers who had a lot of cats, and now they are all gone,” Lachermeier said. “They’ll eat anything.”

He noted that the dog killed on a leash a couple of years ago on the southeast side of Winsted was probably attacked by a coyote.

With the rise in the area’s coyote population, fox are scared to come out during the day, Lachermeier added.

“I used to see three or four fox curled up sleeping in the snow in fields during the day – now, I don’t see that too often,” he explained.

A coyote hide in good condition will sell for about $30 to $40.

The hunters have found about 15 coyotes with good hides this year, but most have rough hides with rubbed patches from lying in the snow, Lachermeier said.

“Most furs go to China – it used to be Russia,” he added.

Coyote and muskrat, which the group does not hunt, are the most popular types of fur. Muskrat hides can bring in $10 to $12.

About coyotes from the DNR

Coyotes are Minnesota’s most abundant large predator, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Usually preying on small mammals, coyotes sometimes also kill large mammals and livestock.

Coyotes begin mating around age 2, and may pair for life. The mating season begins in January and lasts through February.

In about April, females give birth, having litters of five to seven pups.

Pups are taught to hunt at about eight to 12 weeks of age, and from autumn to mid-winter, they begin leaving the den in search of their own territories.

Coyotes are nomads, with males roaming territories as large as 36 square miles; females usually stay within a six-square-mile area.

Normally moving two to three miles per day, adult male coyotes may share territory with two or more females, often overlapping the range of other males.

Preferring a combination of farm land and forest habitat, populations are increasing in southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities area.

It is difficult to estimate the size of the coyote population, but most coyotes live less than two years in the wild. One animal is known to have reached 13 years of age.

Population densities vary. During high population years, there can be one coyote every three miles. There may be one every five or six miles during lower population years.

Roughly 4,000 coyotes are shot or trapped every year in Minnesota.

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