Coyote bounty eliminated from state budget

A warning sign about coyotes along Harry Hallman Boulevard near Patriots Point Boulevard in 2014.

COLUMBIA — A provision in the state budget to incentivize the eradication of coyotes was removed Thursday, but the hunt for Wile E. Coyote may not be over yet.

A Senate budget panel shot down a proposal that would tag at least 12 coyotes throughout the state for hunters to pursue in hopes of bagging one for a $1,000 reward.

The program was eliminated from the Department of Natural Resources budget by a Senate Finance subcommittee chaired by Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington. Setzler said there are better ways to spend that money in the $7.5 billion budget.

“We want to talk about dealing with education, roads, health care and all those things versus paying someone to kill a coyote,” Setzler said. “It’s all about priorities.”

A House-approved bill, taking the same approach as the former budget proviso, reached the Senate Fish, Game and Forestry Committee chaired by Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, in early March. Campsen was not available for comment Thursday.

The catch, however, is that hunting and discharging a firearm or bow is outlawed in municipalities such as Mount Pleasant and Isle of Palms where the coyotes presence continues to be a problem. Currently city landowners may only trap a coyote.