Chances are, if you live in Franklin County or other areas around Smith Mountain Lake, you have heard a story of a coyote killing someone’s pet cat, or other livestock. For those who have livestock or pets that are vulnerable to these predators, the ordinance Franklin County passed last week will feel both comforting and helpful. To those unaffected, it may perhaps seem like a waste of resources, which are not in overabundance as it is. Jason M. Dunovant of the Smith Mountain Eagle tells the story.
The Franklin County Board of Supervisors narrowly approved an ordinance last week that will give residents the authority to hunt coyotes in the county.
The ordinance, approved by a vote of 4-3, allows county residents to hunt the animals, as well as grant them a $25 bounty for each kill turned into the county. Boone District representative David Hurt, Gills Creek representative Russ Johnson, and Union Hall representative Charles Poindexter all voted against the ordinance.
Franklin County landowners can currently kill nuisance animals, which can include coyotes, on their property, but last week’s ordinance allows the county an opportunity to track the kills by offering a $25 bounty. The county set a $2,500 yearly budget for the bounty, allowing only 100 coyotes to be claimed each year.
Some board members, including Snow Creek representative Leland Mitchell, believe the ordinance can thin a coyote population that some residents believe is a growing problem in the county. Mitchell first discussed a bounty late last year after hearing complaints from county residents. In January, the board agreed to create an ordinance and hold a public hearing on the matter.
During last week’s meeting, several residents spoke out against the bounty. David Wiseman, Boone representative for the Franklin County Planning Commission, attended the meeting to ask the board to reconsider the ordinance.
Wiseman suggested the board consider "innovative predator management" to handle the coyote problem, instead of using what he called a "scattershot approach". The system, according to Wiseman, would use fencing, frightening devices, and the killing of some problem coyotes to control the population and lessen the damage that the animals may cause.
"Let’s get rid of the coyotes that are actually causing a problem," Wiseman said.
Other residents agreed that the ordinance was a waste of county money and would do little to control the population.
"I think it’s a plain waste of taxpayers dollars that can be used for something else that will benefit the community much more than that," Franklin County resident Bill Goodwill said.
Boone District representative David Hurt agreed with the residents in attendance. He also stated that the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the county’s own public safety director, Darryl Hatcher, who heads the animal control department that would handle the bounties, have both acknowledged the bounty would likely do nothing to control the population.
Despite the objections, a majority of the board believed the bounty would help in controlling the population.
"I’m supporting it [the bounty], because I think that any means we can use to get rid of one coyote is a good means," Mitchell said.
Hurt made a motion not to approve the ordinance, but it failed by a vote of 4-3 with Hurt, Johnson, and Poindexter all voting for the motion. Mitchell then moved that the ordinance be adopted, which was passed by a vote of 4-3, with the previous three board members voting against the ordinance.
The ordinance will become effective July 1, 2007.