It will soon be critter season all year long in Arkansas. It may be the worst news in a while for coyotes since the Acme Roadrunner trap arrived in the mail.
The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission voted to relax hunting regulations on certain predator species.
"Raccoons, possums, red fox, coyotes -- things like that," said Randy Zellers, the assistant chief of communications for the AGFC. "What it is going to do is give a private landowner to manage on a local level if he feels that predator populations are high and maybe impacting his ground nesting birds in the area."
Coyotes and possums like quick meals they can get from a quail's nest. To manage that, you can now set traps or hunt them with a special permit. There doesn't have to be a set season, and more importantly, no set hours.
"You will be able to harvest bobcat, coyote, skunk, possum, and raccoon day or night," Zellers said after getting a free predator-control permit. That lets hunters get them when they are out and active.
Officials are not declaring a critter crisis, but the rules needed updating because the days of every kid running around with a Davy Crockett hat are long gone.
"Years ago, people used to trap animals for pelts," Zellers said. "As that has gone out of style, there's not as much money involved in trapping animals for pelts."
Rules are already in place that allow you to shoot predators if they threaten people, pets, or livestock. This new permit means you can do it more efficiently with an eye on wildlife management.
A hunter is also not responsible for having to turn the skin into a coat or a hat if they have the special permit.
Zellers points out that the permit is mainly for people living in the country.
While coyotes and foxes often encroach on suburban or even residential areas in cities, local firearms laws still supersede the special permit regulations.
If you have a raccoon or skunk problem closer to town, the AGFC has standard advice.
"We still recommend the number one thing is remove all the food sources and make sure those animals are not welcome," Zellers said.
The permits will be available in late August.