(AP) — Coyotes could be shot night or day under a bill that appears headed for passage in the Kentucky Legislature.
The dog-like animals have proliferated across the state to the point that lawmakers are being pushed by constituents to take action. The proposed fix has become one of the most popular bills of the year, having breezed through the House and appearing to be on a fast track in the Senate.
Over the past two decades, coyotes have spread into all of Kentucky's 120 counties, and have sparked a growing number of complaints to wildlife officials about livestock being killed.
"They're getting pretty bold," said Sen. Robin Webb, D-Grayson. "They're killing calves and small dogs and they'd probably take small children or you if they were big enough or that many of them."
The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee passed the measure 10-0 on Wednesday and sent it to the full Senate grouped with a handful of other bills that are expected to pass easily.
The measure would allow hunters to use shotguns and lights to kill coyotes at night. Already, they're fair game during daylight hours.
Doug Morgan, president of the Kentucky Houndsmen Association, said he found out for himself that coyotes have become a danger to small pets.
"I personally had one of my dogs killed in the woods by coyotes," he said. "I found it mauled and killed. They're also decimating small game. They're a danger to domestic animals. And they're attacking, harassing and killing hunting dogs."
Kentucky Wildlife Commissioner Jon Gassett supported the legislation, too. If the legislation passes, Gassett said regulations would be drafted to establish guidelines for hunting at night with lights. Those regulations would make the practice off-limits during the fall and winter in an attempt to ensure that unscrupulous hunters can't use coyote hunting as a cover for shooting deer.
"We want to discourage or reduce the potential for people to poach deer," Gassett said. "That could happen very easily if you're using a spotlight at night."