There are 23 fewer coyotes prowling in and around Wilson County after the third annual Marc Larese Camoboy Outdoors Hunt held earlier this month.
That’s how many coyotes were killed, along with three bobcats, and each less predator means one less threat for other wildlife, livestock and domestic pets.
“Hunting is the only effective way to control the growing coyote population,” said Larese, the event organizer and pro staff member of FoxPro game calls. “And even hunting can’t really control them, because coyotes are so prolific. When a population is thinned out in a specific area, they start having larger litters.”
How widespread are coyotes in Middle Tennessee? In January one was discovered cowering in a restroom in the Music City Center in downtown Nashville.
The cunning, adaptable animals have become common sights in most suburban areas, and even in big cities. While they perform a service in preying on mice and rats, when that food source is not available they will take whatever prey is available, including domestic pets.
Surveys by wildlife biologists have found that coyotes kill as many as half of all newborn fawns in some areas, and also take a toll on small game and wild turkeys.
Bobcats are more secretive, and unlike coyotes are seldom seen, especially during the daytime. While bobcats prey mainly on rodents such as rabbits and squirrels, they also kill game birds, song birds, wild turkeys and domestic fowl.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency considers the state’s bobcat population viable enough to permit hunting and trapping.
“Wilson County is covered up with bobcats,” Larese says. “People just don’t see them.”
Bobcat pelts are valuable, as are coyote pelts to a lesser extent. That’s why Larese holds the predator hunt in the winter when the pelts are in their prime. A local furrier collects the animals killed during the hunt so the furs can be salvaged.
“They don’t go to waste,” Larese says. “We consider the hunt beneficial from all aspects. It helps control the predator population, it is a challenging outdoor activity, and the pelts of the animals represent an economic resource.”
The annual event is hosted by the Wilson County Coon Hunters club in Watertown.
Most of the hunts take place in and around Wilson County. This month’s hunt drew 133 hunters from as far away as Knoxville.
Prizes are awarded for total predators taken (ties broken by combined weight), and for the largest of each species. Prizes and awards of the recent hunt totaled $5,500.
Collin Lancaster of Hendersonville claimed the biggest coyote, killed on a farm in Hartsville. It weighed 41 pounds, 11 ounces.
This year’s tally of 23 coyotes and three bobcats was about average for the three hunts. The number of hunters participating has grown from 80 to 100 to 133.
“Predator hunting is becoming more popular every year,” Larese says. “The reason is, of course, the huge increase in predators. When hunters try it, they get hooked. There’s no greater outdoor challenge than trying to call in a coyote or bobcat.”