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Fraud In Utah Coyote Bounty Program Prompts Regulators To Get Smart

Dustin Stettler / Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
Coyote in Utah

Utah is the only state in the Mountain West region that offers a bounty for coyotes — a major predator of young mule deer. Now the program is being updated because some people are cheating.

The Utah Predator Control Program started in 2012. It pays hunters $50 for every coyote they kill. Hunters submit parts of the animal to the state for identification.

According to officials with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources some hunters have been collecting the bounty on coyotes that may have come from nearby states like Wyoming and Idaho, instead of Utah. That’s disrupting the data biologists need to tell if the program is working, and it's a misuse of the state tax money that funds it.

Xaela Walden is a predator management specialist. She said, now, hunters will have to use a smartphone app to document coyotes killed for the bounty.  

"When they go out and remove coyotes, they will take a picture of it where the coyote lays. That picture is georeferenced and so it will submit coordinates for where they removed the coyote from," Walden said.

The rule change goes into effect this August. It will be optional at first and required next year.

According to the Division of Wildlife Resources, almost 15,000 coyotes are killed for the Utah program each year.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.

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