Coyote 'kill bill' aims to help Kentucky's growing problem

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - A coyote sits posed to greet guests at the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Center in Frankfort, and in it's lifelike state it looks really sweet, but the reality is coyotes are becoming a nuisance across the state.

"They're taking down horses, cattle, pets," stated Representative Fitz Steele, D-84th District.

However, it's not just a rural problem. Coyotes are popping up in cities like Lexington, as seen in a cell phone video taken in January of 2012.

"They're here to stay, they're not going anywhere," said Mark Marraccini of the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.

Marraccini added coyotes are not native to the Bluegrass State, but rather migrated here across the frozen rivers around 35 years ago. Since then, they've spread across the state and are reported in all 120 counties.

While coyotes are in open season all year round that's not thinning the pack enough.

"The government has had eradication programs in place for more than 150 years and today we have more coyotes in more places than we've ever had," explained Marraccini.

"We need to thin them out," emphasized Rep. Steele who is sponsoring House Bill 60, which he said should help the Kentucky coyote problem.

"This bill allows you to hunt at night time."

"Hunters are allowed to take four wildlife species at night with lights," said Marraccini, who thinks it's time for a bill like this.

The four animals, currently, are raccoons, opossums, frogs, and fish, Marraccini listed. "This simply would add coyotes to the list."

But before hunters grab their guns and spotlights, the bill does call for restrictions.

"Only with a 10-20 gauge shotgun. no slugs," answered Rep. Steele.

Also, the bill calls for a ban during deer season to prevent deer poaching at night under the guise of coyote hunting.

"I've heard about some friends that have actually had their chickens attacked, so I think that's a great idea," said David Shallenberger, who describes himself as a hunter.

Mandy Shallenberger added, "They (coyotes) need to be regulated because they're just going to become a nuisance, and then people are just going to start hitting them anyway."

On Thursday, the bill was passed in the House and will be sent to the Senate for approval, making it one step closer to putting coyotes in the spotlight.

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