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Michigan Hunters, Trappers Sue Over Shortened Coyote Hunting Season

— April 5, 2024

The C.E.O. of the Michigan United Conversation Clubs, the organization leading the lawsuit, said that the state Natural Resources Commission ignored science in electing to shorten the length of the formerly-year-round coyote hunting season.

A coalition of Michigan hunters and trappers have filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s shortened coyote hunting season.

According to WWMT, the complaint was prompted by a recent Michigan Natural Resources Commission decision to reduce the length of the season from year-round to nine months.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the Michigan United Conservative Clubs, said that Michigan Proposal G of 1996 requires that the Natural Resources Commission, “to the greatest extent possible, utilize principles of sound scientific management regarding the taking of game.”

However, the plaintiffs say that the state appears not to have considered any science in making its decision—and, instead, elected to amend longstanding policy to appease public opinion.

“The public perception that the commission actually stated was that there would be perhaps some negative public perception with hunting a coyote during a time when it has its young,” said Michigan United Conservation Clubs C.E.O. Amy Trotter

“The record is unambiguous,” Trotter said. “The commission has not heard or cited any scientific literature or rationale justifying the closure.”

“The problem necessarily isn’t about coyotes and coyote hunting,” Trotter said. “It’s because the Natural Resources Commission made this decision based on public perception rather than biological science.”

A gavel. Image via Wikimedia Commons via Flickr/user: Brian Turner. (CCA-BY-2.0).

Although Bridge Michigan notes that the state Department of Natural Resources does not comment on pending litigation, the Natural Resources Commission’s chair—Tom Baird—pushed back against arguments to preserve year-round coyote hunting in a meeting held shortly before the decision was finalized.

Baird, says Bridge, said that Michigan established its year-round coyote season in 2016, in large part because common perception held that high coyote populations had become a problem across the state—including in Metro Detroit, and other urban centers.

In the same meeting, Baird said that the change did not have the desired effect: the coyote population was not reduced, and hunters did not report more kills than in years past.

Baird also argued that Proposal G sets standards for policy changes outside of science, with state officials also permitted to consider both social and economic factors when amending practices.

But Trotter has said that, even when the D.N.R. and Natural Resources Commission have considered public opinion and tradition in making policy, such changes have rarely been restrictive.

“Our belief is that we should provide those maximum opportunities [for hunting],” Trotter said.

Some Michigan communities have already signaled anxiety about coyote sightings—with the Detroit suburb of Dearborn now assessing its options for enhanced coyote mitigation measures amidst a sudden uptick in sightings.

“Some residents have said their house pets were attacked by coyotes,” Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said in a social media statement. “There have been sightings of coyotes eating feral cats and others have expressed anxiety with coyotes roaming their backyards, streets, and local park, given they have small children and pets.”


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