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LETTER: Coyote diet beneficial to agriculture, not harmful

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To the Editor:

 

 It seems our state animal, the coyote, is again in the news. This time he is accused of decimating the pheasant population, at least by a few people. I recall back in the mid-60s, it was the red fox that some people thought was the culprit for the pheasant decline at that time.

 

 The late ’50s and early ’60s were great pheasant years in South Dakota. The government ended the Soil Bank Program about this time. The pheasant population crashed. That was what really happened to the pheasants. There was a great loss of habitat and nesting cover as thousands of acres were once again tilled and put back into grain production. Sound familiar?

 

 There are several things that have to work together to sustain pheasant numbers. Habitat is number one, followed by good nesting cover and weather at this critical time. Mild to average winters are also needed without too many killing storms.

 

 Sure, the coyote may get a pheasant at times. He is an opportunist. They will eat most anything. He may also take a lamb or goat kid at times. Overall, the coyote’s diet is more beneficial to agriculture than harmful. If people knew how many meadow voles (field mice) the average coyote eats in a year, they would be astounded. He is also a fairly valuable fur-bearer in our state and should be harvested for that reason.

 

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