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Updated Oct 31, 2013 - 2:55 pm

Hunt for coyotes in northern Arizona saving antelopes

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Arizona officials are analyzing the results of government-funded hunting that has killed 669 coyotes in northern Arizona to reduce the predators' kills of pronghorn antelope fawns.

The state Department of Game and Fish paid $120,000 to have the hunting conducted between 2010 and 2012, the Arizona Daily Sun reported.

Most of the hunting was conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and most of it was done from aircraft.

The hunting has been conducted in an area between the Grand Canyon on the north and Williams on the south and west of State Route 64.

The antelope population in the area where hunting was conducted grew several times larger in two years, while there was no change in a nearby area where hunting was not conducted.

Brian Wakeling, Game and Fish big game program supervisor, had hoped increased sales of pronghorn hunting permits might produce enough revenue to pay for sustained aerial shooting of coyotes.

However, the desire to preserve the pronghorn meant that the large population increase did not dramatically boost the number of hunting permits sold, despite the large population increase, Wakeling said.

Meanwhile, a conservationist said the large-scale coyote hunting program's long-term effectiveness is questionable.

``By killing some of the (coyotes), especially the larger males, it results in an increase in population as they become more inclined to reproduce,'' said Kim Crumbo, conservation director for the Grand Canyon Wildlands Council.

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