Georgia DNR is encouraging hunters to kill coyotes.

At Issue: Is it right to kill coyotes in of metro Atlanta?

State wildlife departments ordinarily protect the animals in their charge. Georgia’s is giving people an incentive to kill one particularly irksome species.

“Each coyote killed, up to five a month per hunter/trapper, will earn an entry into a monthly drawing for a lifetime license (or equal credit for purchase of hunting/fishing licenses),” the Wildlife Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources says on its Georgia Coyote Challenge website.

That’s five dead coyotes per month per hunter, or 30 total, for the March-August contest period. Roadkill isn’t eligible.

“Coyote predation is scientifically shown to negatively impact wildlife populations, kill livestock, kill domestic pets and contribute to undesired human-coyote interactions,” Chief of Game Management John Bowers said in a statement to Channel 2 Action News.

A Roswell man and woman attacked by rabid coyotes in the past year might agree with the “undesired interactions” statement.

Yet some scientists are horrified.

Chris Mowry, a Berry College professor and founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project, cited “the public safety threat the Georgia Coyote Challenge poses to people and pets.”

“Encouraging thousands of Georgians to shoot as many coyotes as they can – sometimes right outside of city limits – is a recipe for disaster,” Mowry said in a news release issued by Project Coyote, a national organization.

The website of the Atlanta Coyote Project called the DNR contest “inhumane” and “unwise” and said it is timed to eliminate coyote parents so newborn pups starve to death. “More than likely, it will lead to an INCREASE in coyote numbers over time as competition is reduced and a resurgence occurs,” the website said.

What do you think? Are state wildlife officials justified encouraging coyote killings, or are they howling at the moon? Send comments to communitynews@ajc.com. They may be published in print and/or online.

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