Greenbrier County sheep farmers hit hard by coyote problem
Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick believes he has the solution to West Virginia's coyote problem.
Helmick wants to establish a bounty system to encourage hunters to kill the critters.
Greenbrier County farmer John Johnston said, "There used to be a thousand head of sheep in this valley now I've got 150 and that's total numbers... the rest of them, everyone quit, they can't put up with the coyotes."
Johnston knows first hand how bad the coyote problem in the state is.
Just last year, he lost more than 150 of his sheep.
He said, "The lambs that I kept are worth about 500 dollars a piece at least and I lost about 30 of them."
Under the new plan, coyotes would be trapped and their ears would be marked with an identifying number.
Then, they would then be released back into the wild.
Hunters who kill a coyote marked with a number would receive a bounty of a few hundred dollars or maybe even a thousand dollars.
Johnston said the coyote even killed a calf at his farm.
Johnston and others think the coyotes need to be dealt with as directly as possible, leaving out the whole gaming scheme.
He said, "If they're going to catch him and put a tag on him why don't they just kill him to start with and be done with it!"
Richard Dulee of Monroe County said, "It seems like if you are going to get rid of coyotes and put a bounty on their head then you are already taking them out of the population, there's no need to tag them first, just take them out of the population."
Helmick says hunters likely would kill about two dozen coyotes in an attempt to bag one with an identifying number.
Details of the plan are still being worked out.
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