By Eric Stearley
Local hunters have discovered a way to enjoy their favorite pastime, control the population of a public nuisance and support a good cause all at the same time. Coyotes for Charity had sportsmen from Wabash, Miami, Fulton, Kosciusko, Grant and Howard counties taking aim at cancer and coyotes simultaneously in this, their 10th year. The group sends coyote pelts to auction, donating the proceeds to the American Cancer Society.
The group started in 2004 with four hunters harvesting five coyotes. This year the group, which exceeded 100 hunters, harvested 266 coyotes, more than the first five years combined.
Though they aren’t typically prized for their meat or taxidermy trophies like deer, coyote hunting has become popular for a number of reasons. Coyote season is long, spanning five months from Oct. 15 to March 15. A coyote posing a legitimate nuisance on private land can be taken any time of the year. Unlike deer, there are no restrictions on hunting hours or using spotlights to hunt. In addition, there are no firearm restrictions when hunting coyotes, so hunters have a chance to use high-powered rifles, prohibited when hunting their antlered friends.
Prepared by Larry Frank, a local hunter, and Terry Manley, U.S. Receiving Agent for North American Fur Auctions (NAFA), coyote pelts were sent to auction in Toronto, location of the NAFA headquarters. In their first year, the five pelts brought a total of $57. This year, the first 172 pelts sold for a total of $3,392, a 55 percent increase in price per pelt. The remaining 94 pelts will be sold at a future auction.
As a result of generous partners, Coyotes for Charity is able to give much more than the $3,392 raised through fur sales. The Square D Foundation through the Relay for Life Campaign made a matching donation, as did a local anonymous resident. This tripled the group’s donation, allowing the organization to give the American Cancer Society $10,176 just this year.
September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. According to the ACS, more than 11,000 cases of childhood cancer will be diagnosed in 2013.
This year’s donation brings their 10-year total to $33,280, every dollar of which brings cancer closer to its end.