Kill These Critters

Coyotes
Coyotes have been moving east for decades and at first game biologists were hesitant to give them credit for decimating deer numbers. But now it's widely believed that an increase in coyote numbers means a decrease in deer numbers. Coyotes not only take out fawns and sick deer, but big eastern dogs are more than capable of preying upon healthy adult whitetails. The good news? In many states there are long coyote hunting seasons with generous bag limits. Hunt them with calls or dogs, in the open country or in the woods. This week Nikon is celebrating Save the Herd - Coyote Week. The idea behind the celebration? Shoot more coyotes. Learn more about it here.
Asian Carp
These invasive fish have been working their way up the Mississippi waterway toward the Great Lakes, and this summer they broke through electric barriers that were supposed to keep them out of the fishery that brings in $7 billion each year. But the Great Lakes aren't doomed just yet. New programs to harvest the fish (and eat them) combined with the birth of aerial bowfishing could be enough to stop the asian carp invasion. If you're looking for a way to kill carp that is a little more "redneck," check out the annual Redneck Fishing Tournament that's hosted in Illinois.
Prairie Dogs
These little critters are a thorn in the side of ranchers everywhere. They dig up grasslands and compete for forage. With the growing popularity of flat-shooting ARs, riflemen have come up with a solution. Photo: Asir
Raccoons
Coons are wily scavengers that raid garbage cans, campsites and anything else they can get into. They're one of the most widely distributed mammals in North America and can be found from Central America all the way up to the northern reaches of Canada. Ask any houndsmen and he'll tell you they make great game animals and actually taste pretty good too. Photo: raccoon
Snow Geese
From 1916 to 1975 snow geese hunting was banned because their populations dipped dangerously low. Now the geese are in trouble for a different reason: there's too many of them. The geese have come back so quickly that their nesting grounds can no longer sustain them. In many states along the snow geese migration there are long spring seasons and liberal bag limits. The problem is that snow geese are wary birds and hunting them can be a hit or miss venture. Photo: USFWS
Whitetail Deer
Whitetail deer are far from a pest, in fact they're one of the country's favorite game animals. But in some urban areas in the East and Midwest whitetails are overpopulated. They've worked their way into semi-urban neighborhoods where there's plenty of food and very few predators aside from cars. If you can gain access to bowhunt in one of these urban areas, you'll be able to ambush does to your heart's content and possibly even stumble into the trophy of a lifetime. Photo: jeffweese
Red Lionfish
These venomous fish are native to Southeast Asia, but they've been popping up in warm costal Florida waters. This worries many fisheries biologists as lionfish are voracious feeders and could easily disrupt the fragile acquatic ecosystems in the gulf. Spear fishermen have answered the call in full force by sniping lionfish whenever they get the opportunity. While the lionfish do sport defensive venomous spines, they are valued in many parts of the world as great table fare. "We want people to get out there and kill as many as possible," Sean Morton, the superintendent of thee Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, told the Wall Street Journal in November. Photo: Jens Petersen
Wild Hogs
The U.S. (especially the Southern U.S.) has developed a love/hate relationship with wild boars. They're a formidable game animal and even better on the grill. But on the other hand, they're an invasive species that can outcompete native game like turkeys and deer. In Texas, where the wild hog population has skyrocketed, ranchers want to rid their land of wild hogs but they also want to charge sportsmen to hunt their property. And so the struggle continues. Photo: minicooper93402
Canada Geese
Canada Geese are back with a vengeance. Geese become a problem when they settle in to urban areas where they don't have to migrate. They lounge in golf courses and parks all year round and make it tough for hunters. However many states are now offering extended early season hunts that give creative waterfowlers a chance to get some shooting in well before the migrating birds come down. Photo: samenstelling
Northern Pike
Northern pike are a great game fish - if they grow large enough. But anyone who has fished in a lake full of stunted "snakes" can tell you that pike can be a nuisance too. Pike are aggressive predators and when they inhabit a lake in large numbers, they can easily outcompete bass and muskies. In some parts of the country, like south-central Alaska, pike have been stocked illegally and are destroying native fish populations. On the upside, they make for a great fish fry if you can cut the y-bones out of them. Photo: ambassadeur L
Elk
We may well be experiencing the golden age of elk restoration. Except for a few pockets in the west, elk herds are strong and new herds are being established all the time in the East. On all accounts, that's a good thing. But in Theodore Roosevelt National Park the elk herd has grown too quickly in recent years. Luckily the federal government got creative and allowed a select group of hunters into the national park. The program was a great success, so look for more of these hunts in the future. Photo: Mongo
Axis deer
These deer are native to India but they were introduced to the U.S. in the mid 1900s. Where's the coolest place to hunt axis deer? That would be Hawaii. Nine axis deer were introduced to Hawaii in 1960 with expectations that they wouldn't be very successful reproducing. The biologists were wrong. Now there are more than 20,000 axis deer (however there is no exact population estimate) and many worry that they will ravage the fragile island ecosystem. Not to mention, wreck Hawaiians' cars at ever turn. There are a handful of outfitters, especially on Maui, that offer axis deer hunts. Photo: bobisbob
Foxes
Foxes can wreak havoc on duck, grouse and pheasant numbers during the spring nesting season. Foxes do extra damage when there isn't strong nesting ground habitat and birds are restricted to contained areas. But fox hunting and trapping have fallen out of popularity in many states. It's time for them to make a comeback. Photo: Alan d. Wilson
Yellowstone lake trout
Yellowstone Lake is home to the rare and prized Yellowstone Cutthroat trout, but lake trout were introduced to the lake and they are now decimating the native cutthroat numbers. At one point there were 9 million Yellowstone Cutthroat trout in the lake, the largest population in the world, but that number has been greatly reduced thanks to the invaders. If you catch a lake trout in Yellowstone Lake it is actually illegal to throw it back alive. I suggest lemon, butter and a little garlic.
Sandhill Cranes
These large, awkward looking birds have made a comeback in the Midwest. To keep the birds in check, at least 10 states have opened seasons, including Minnesota, which opened it's first sandhill crane season this year. In most states the bag limits are low, but if the bird populations continue to rise look for those numbers to go up. Photo: Manjith Kainickara

Sportsmen are stewards of the land, and sometimes we're called upon to keep game populations in check. Here's a list of the critters that game biologists and the public are asking us to knock down a peg or two.