As the coyote’s presence rises in Ontario, so do the ways to manage and make use of this underappreciated furbearer. Predator hunting for pelts can be a rewarding way to harvest coyotes. Trapping them can be even more rewarding.
Coyotes in Canada were once limited to the western plains, but removal of top predators (such as the grey wolf) and land-clearing has allowed the coyote to expand its range and steadily move eastward, establishing good numbers across Ontario, south of the Canadian shield.
Some see coyotes in Ontario as an alien nuisance, while others believe coyotes are ecologically important in areas where other top predators no longer exist.
One thing is certain: coyote pelts can have a valuable and sustainable use in the fur industry and trapping is one of the best ways to enjoy the benefits of a coyote harvest.
Become a trapper
An Ontario trapper’s licence is required for those wishing to trap, and licences could differ, depending if you wish to trap on private or crown lands.
Youths ages 12 to 15 years can also obtain a licence to trap under the direct supervision of an adult mentor trapper.
To obtain a licence, or for those who have not held a trapping licence in the last five years, a few steps are required to complete the Fur Harvest, Fur Management, and Conservation Course. It is a 40-hour course with both in-class and hands-on training, including trapping and pelting instruction.
For information on courses and instructors, contact the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) office nearest the area where you wish to trap, or contact the Ontario Fur Managers Federation.
As with hunting, there are trapping seasons. Before trapping any fur-bearing animal, be sure you are familiar with the regulations in your area. In Ontario, the regulations for coyote trapping are the same as for coyote hunting. Refer to the hunting regulations to find open seasons in your area.
Generally in central and northern Ontario, coyotes are taken on registered traplines. The greatest density of coyotes exists primarily in southern Ontario where many are trapped on private land — with landowner written permission.
The greatest density of coyotes exists primarily in southern Ontario where many are trapped on private land — with landowner written permission.
It’s part of the trapper’s code to avoid the take of non-target species, and to trap using the most humane methods. Thanks to the Agreement on International Trapping Standards, scientifically verified and internationally accepted trap models are provided in a regularly updated list.
Licensed trappers have several trap options, such as padded leg-hold traps that hold the animal by the leg, either for later dispatch or live release, to ensure non-target wildlife or pets can be safely released if caught.
Other trap options include using suspended snares above the ground (legal in much of central and northern Ontario and outside the open season for deer hunting with dogs only) which are designed to kill humanely, but are not recommended where people and pet traffic is high, and are therefore illegal to use in most parts of southern Ontario.
Outdated, inhumane traps, such as leg-hold traps with teeth or serrations on the jaws are no longer legal for any furbearer in Ontario.
The fur trade
Coyote pelts are prime during the colder months and humanely trapped animals that are diligently skinned and prepped often fetch better prices in the fur trade. Individual trappers can take furs to an auction house or if they only have a few, can arrange for another trapper to take them with their pelts, and others they have collected.
Pelts are graded at the auction house before sale. Grading is based on size, fur quality, colouration, and market price. For most furs, price also depends on international demand, which may be triggered by anything from the latest fashion to global politics.
Coyote fur isn’t just aesthetically pleasing, it has the ability to keep frost away from the skin when used on hoods or sleeves. In recent years, coyote pelts have fetched solid prices due to their use in trim on high-end winter outerwear.
According to data from the North American Fur Auctions from February 2014, coyote pelts sold for between $38 and $750 per pelt, and the 2015 market forecast by North Bay’s Fur Harvesters Auction Inc. predicts another year of excellent international coyote pelt demand.
Whether it be for fashion, sustainability, sport, durability, or simply making the best out of a nuisance issue, harvesting coyotes through trapping during the right season not only ensures the fur is prime, it also gives you an opportunity to go into the bush when most other game seasons are closed.