Just under 300 coyotes were killed during a recently concluded two-month-long Northeast Washington hunting derby put on by local sportsmen to help out the region’s whitetail herd.
That’s up from last year’s February-long derby that yielded 227 from Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille Counties.
Around half of this year’s 294 songdogs brought in to seven check stations between New Year’s and February 29th were females, according to an event organizer Freddie Giannecchini.
He believes that removing the potentially pregnant predators will have particularly long term and far-reaching benefits for small game like grouse and turkey as well as the deer herd, which got walloped in the back-to-back hard winters of 2006-07 and ’07-08 and which has yet to regain its size.
“It will be interesting to see the impact of the fawn-to-doe ratio this year as compared to last,” Giannecchini says.
Most of the coyotes came from Stevens County, he reports. While driving back and forth between Colville and Chewelah in recent weeks he’s noted fewer and fewer on the landscape, which he attributes to the success of the derby.
Local hunters are concerned not only about predation on the deer herd by coyotes, bears, cougars and now wolves, but other factors affecting its population such as poor winter range, a 50 percent loss of whitetail-friendly aglands in Stevens County and logging and forest practices that hurt the regeneration of deer browse.
With urging from area sportsmen such as Giannecchini, the Washington Fish & Wildlife Commission last year passed a four-point minimum for whitetail bucks in two of the state’s best units, the Huckleberry and 49 Degrees North GMUs. The immediate result was a 50 percent drop in effort, as measured by year-to-year check station data, and an all-time-low buck take — although one that also wasn’t that far behind the previous two seasons.
The derby also comes at the same time that WDFW has begun a research project on the area’s whitetail. If another is held next winter, state deer scientist Woody Myers says he’d like to see hunters identify where they shot their coyotes to possibly tease out information on whether or not there are any local correlations between the removals and deer predation.
Put on by the Northeast Washington Wildlife Group, the event was sponsored by Clark’s All Sports of Colville, Lake Roosevelt Walleye Club, Stevens and Spokane Counties Cattlemen’s Association, Double Eagle Pawn, RMEF and others.