CHILTON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Beginning Thursday July 1, Alabamians will be able to get a license to hunt coyotes and feral swine at night.
Governor Kay Ivey signed the new bill that lawmakers passed during this past legislative session.
Wildlife leaders hope it will give Alabama landowners another option to protect their property and livestock.
“Feral swine cause about $50 million dollars in private property damage in Alabama alone every year. They damage agricultural crops, they destroy private property and they take up the habitat that rightfully belongs to our native species,” said Marianne Hudson, a conservation outreach specialist with the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Hudson works in the ADCNR Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. She said Coyotes are often also a nuisance for landowners, killing off livestock and game species.
The new hunting season aims to help with population control.
“It is a thing that has previously been prohibited in our state. It has been very popular in other states, but beginning July 1, Alabama hunters can purchase that night time feral swine and coyote hunting license and go after them as well,” Hudson said.
With the new season, hunters will also be able to use specialized equipment to aid once the sun sets. The animals are more active at dark.
“Possession of thermal optics and also laser sights and lights on firearms will now be allowed for hunters who are in possession of the license to hunt feral swine and coyotes at night, during the designated season, when they are conducting those activities,” Hudson said.
Coyotes have been seen spotted in rural, urban, and suburban areas. The adaptable animals often look for quick sources of food.
The new law does not allow hunters to shoot where firing a weapon is already against the law, like within the limits of a city. A hunter must own the property or have permission from the landowner.
“These new rules do not allow for discharge of firearms in areas where it was already previously prohibited,” Hudson said.
The season will run from July 1 to November 1.
Previously, hunters could only hunt the animals at night after obtaining special permitting from the state.
“I am usually in Shelby County, Greene County, Clay County,” said Chip Dillard, a permitted coyote hunter from Vestavia Hills.
Dillard grew up hunting with his dad and now hunts as a part of his retirement. He’s often called by landowners to protect properties.
“In Clay County last week, one of the landowners had lost three calves in the last couple of months. That is their livelihood, the cattle, so you’ve got to protect that investment,” said Dillard.
He’s been busy this year after an active 2020. Dillard uses thermal equipment and a coyote call on his night hunts.
“Last year I killed 130, this year I am up to 81,” said Dillard.
For those interested in hunting coyotes, Dillard said safety is even more important after dark.
“You need to know where the property boundaries are, you need to know where all the dwellings, the homes,” Dillard said.
He stressed the need to communicate with the property owner about other potential pets and livestock on property.
In a video example, Dillard showed how coyotes and dogs can look similar on a thermal camera.
“You have to be very careful and that is where over time you learn the mannerisms of a coyote, just the way they walk, the way they hold their tail,” Dillard continued. “It is very important that you know what you are shooting at.”
Wildlife leaders and hunters know the new initiative won’t solve the population problem, but they hope it is a small step forward.
“If you can just keep the numbers in check, and that is what we need to be doing as hunters in the state is trying to control the numbers,” said Dillard.
Hunters can obtain a license within minutes from the license section of the ADCNR website or by downloading the ADCNR app.