PICKENS COUNTY — For the second year in a row, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources has tagged and released 16 coyotes as part of a contest for a free lifetime hunting license from SCDNR.
According to a spokesperson from the organization, four coyotes have been placed in each game zone as part of the “coyote harvest incentive program.”
Anyone who kills one of the tagged coyotes, saves the carcass for verification and contacts SCDNR will receive a complimentary lifetime hunting license.
This lifetime license may be issued to a designee of the winner’s choice.
The incentive program was created by a budget proviso (47.10) passed by the S.C. General Assembly in 2016 and 2107 which directs SCDNR to develop and implement a coyote tagging and reward program.
Eight of the 16 tagged coyotes from last year have been reported thus far. Potentially, 24 tagged coyotes still remain that would be eligible for the lifetime license incentive, the agency said.
SCDNR states coyotes first appeared in S.C. about 30 years ago and that the species continues to expand greatly in numbers.
“Coyotes are negatively impacting our official State Animal, the White-tailed deer, by preying heavily on deer fawns,” a spokesperson said. “Since 2002, the S.C. deer population has declined by more than 30 percent. While our deer population is still healthy, we do not want to see it decline further.”
So, where did they come from?
Well, despite what you may or may not have heard, SCDNR insists they have never released coyotes into the state for any reason, including deer management.
The agency states the animals were actually illegally imported into the state for hound running. SCDNR and Federal law enforcement has and will continue to prosecute for this activity, they said.
Another reason for the sudden influx of the coyote population is Eastern migration resulting in a natural expansion of the species in South Carolina.
Coyotes are now found in all 50 states and have been reported in every county of S.C.