Don't Neglect Springtime Varmint Management

Spring is a great time of the year for turkey hunting, fishing and getting chores done that stacked up during winter. But don't forget about varmint management efforts that can benefit other wildlife species.

Don't Neglect Springtime Varmint Management

Varmint control is beneficial for other species, such as wild turkeys that have nests on the ground often pillaged by predators and varmints. (Photo: Mark Kayser)

Bounty programs have been a part of predator control dating back to the pioneer era. The custom continues today, most notably with Utah’s coyote bounty to help reduce predation specifically for struggling mule deer populations. The program is simple as described by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

“The DWR predator-control program provides incentives for hunters to remove coyotes. Participants receive up to $50 for each properly documented coyote that they kill in Utah.”

In their latest fiscal report, Utah’s bounty program accounted for the removal of 10,589 coyotes at a cost of $529,450. Although debatable, that’s not exactly bad when compared to what the cost might be for professional removal, particularly if aerial gunning costs are included.

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks is also concerned about predation on wildlife with a focus on feathered wildlife. Pheasants and waterfowl mean big tourism business to the Rushmore State so they implemented a Nest Predator Bounty Program available to residents only. In addition to removing predators that prey on nesting gamebirds, the program’s monetary incentive is also designed to spur interest in trapping with youth in the spotlight.

“Raccoon, striped skunk, badger, opossum, and red fox are the eligible species for this program. The nest predator bounty program begins April 1, 2019, and will conclude August 31, 2019 - unless the $500,000 cap is reached first. This is a South Dakota resident-only program.

Participants will receive $10 per tail for the following species outlined above. Participants must submit the tail bone and entire tail of these species to receive payment. Participants may submit up to $590 worth of tails per household.”

SDGF&P isn’t the only organization sounding the alarm on nesting species of game. Delta Waterfowl, headquartered in North Dakota, has been reporting, studying and implementing predator control plans regarding nesting on the ever-decreasing acreage of wetlands since the 1990s. What they discovered is that predator management was not only productive, but efficient in improving the success of nesting waterfowl.

In one Saskatchewan study area nesting success was 32.5 percent in trapped areas as opposed to just 6.5 percent in areas that included no trapping. Delta states that most duck species require a minimum of 15 percent nesting success to maintain populations.

It doesn’t matter if you’re attempting to manage wildlife species in Florida or Washington state, springtime varmint control can boost populations, especially for small game and nesting species. If you want to participate in controlling species such as skunks or raccoons you can join the fun without running a huge trap line of jaw-style traps. Consider using live traps.

You can purchase live traps of varying size at many sporting goods stores such as Cabela’s. Bait is simple. Tuna in oil, cat food, fruit and other tempting treats can sucker in even the cagiest of animals. Be sure to set your trap so you get the animal in the first attempt. If they spring the trap and you miss don’t expect another try.

Predator and varmint control is a year-round job for wildlife managers. Despite the workload, it can be rewarding, especially when you watch a flock of young turkeys walk across the trail in front of you this summer.

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