Did coyote hunters go too far using dogs? Video raises questions about what is legal

Data pix.

RAYMOND, IL - FOX 2 obtained a home video that authorities called a case of coyote hunters going too far. The video shows the practice of using dogs to hunt, maul, and ultimately kill coyotes. It’s raising questions about what is and what should be legal. It happened Saturday morning, near Raymond, Illinois, about 70 miles northeast of St. Louis.

A property owner took the video of three dogs attacking a coyote on his property.  The dogs were relentless.  When the dogs’ handlers arrived, the property owner made clear neither they nor the dogs were welcome.

“Get out right now bud, you’re done.  You’re done.  Get out.  Get off of my property,” the man yells on the video.

The handlers left. The video is drawing the attention of lawmakers in Springfield.

“I think there are property rights issues here.  I think there are basic decency issues here.  So, that’s what we’re looking at,” said Republican State Rep. Avery Bourne, who represents the Raymond, IL, area.

When it comes to hunting and killing coyotes in the State of Illinois, the laws are pretty wide open.  Under those laws, it’s ok to use dogs to hunt and kill coyotes.  Four men did get cited by the Illinois Department of Natural Resource for this case but the citations were for hunting within 300 yards of a home without the homeowner’s permission and not for using dogs to hunt & kill a coyote.

One homeowner has even put up a warning sign to coyote hunters to keep out, calling this type of hunting a “blood sport”. Technically, it is legal as a form of hunting with permission in both Illinois and Missouri. Hunters sell coyote pelts and also are hired to get rid of nuisance coyotes.

Reports of nuisance coyotes threatening and injuring pets and people are becoming more common from Florissant to Chicago.  Home video captured a coyote lunging at a little girl in a Chicago suburb in the fall. A coyote in Lincoln Park in Downtown Chicago attacked and wounded a 6-year-old boy in December.

Still, dog hunts were not the answer, Bourne said. She’s now looking into whether hunting coyotes with dogs, violates animal cruelty laws for being cruel to the dogs, not the coyotes.

“I think if you are putting dogs that you own in a position where they can be hurt, that is already a felony under Illinois law,” she said.  “I think if you are wantonly trespassing and hunting in such a way that you are going on other people’s ground to hunt, that’s already against the law.”

State wildlife officials feel education may be the best tool for coyote populations that is likely growing or at the very least holding steady.  Stan McTaggart of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources pointed out the pet dogs harm people far more often than coyotes and people have played in a role in coyotes adapting to more urban areas. Do not feed coyotes, he said.

“That emboldens their behavior.  They become more dependent on humans for food.  They expect humans to feed them in some cases.  The majority of coyotes are not going to cause problems but the majority of problem coyotes are absolutely coyotes that have been fed,” said Stan McTaggart.  “They’re intelligent animals and they will adapt if they can find garbage if they can find pet food.”

So, don’t feed coyotes outside.  If you must, clean up any leftover food right away.  If you encounter a coyote, don’t immediately run away.

“I would not turn my back on them,” said McTaggart.  “I would observe their behavior…if the animal is stalking you.  If the animal is approaching your pet.  If the animal is clearly not afraid of you and coming at you or growling, barking at you, do not run.  We tell people to wave their arms, be loud, back away slowly.”

He suggested the following groups and websites: The Urban Coyote Research Project and Wildlife Illinois as valuable resources in learning how to properly deal with coyotes (and other wildlife) and mitigate issues before they arise.

“I view coyotes as a natural part of our wildlife community,” he said.

The four men cited in this case, Derek Arnett, of Medora, IL, Jared Hines, also of Medora, Malaki Nicolini of Shipman, IL, and Devin Lefler, also of Shipman, received misdemeanor citations with possible penalties of up to six months in jail and $1,500 fines.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.