The Coyote Equation
“Can we control the whitetail’s most prolific predator?
The verdict is in: Coyotes eat a lot of deer. Studies in South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia and other states have found that predators can kill upwards of three-quarters of all fawns born in a given year. As a result, hunters everywhere have declared war on coyotes.
We shoot them at every opportunity, often sacrificing the chance at a deer in order to kill a coyote. Many of us have even taken up the thrilling and challenging sport of predator hunting.
A few deer hunters are even learning how to trap to put more heat on coyotes, all in an effort to protect the deer herd.
DOES IT WORK?
Researchers at South Carolina’s Savannah River Site, a 198,000-acre Department of Energy facility, removed a large number of coyotes from part of the facility to determine if they could increase fawn survival rates.
Over the course of the three-year study, trappers participating in the study removed 474 coyotes. That worked out to about four coyotes per square mile per year. Coyote abundance was reduced by about 78% overall, and fawn survival increased, likely as a result of the reduction in coyote numbers.
Prior to the study, about 80% of the fawns were killed by coyotes. After the first year, survival rates more than doubled. However, survival rates fell back to just 20% the second year, something researchers were unable to explain. They increased to about 41% the third year, indicating that removing coyotes can, at least to some extent, influence fawn survival rates.
That doesn’t mean you should start shooting coyotes. In virtually all the studies that examined coyote control efforts and fawn recruitment, researchers used the services of experienced, professional trappers who were skilled at fooling a variety of animals.
The average deer hunter who has little or no experience catching coyotes will struggle to make a dent in the local population.
Coyotes are smart and difficult to catch, even for experienced trappers. They are even more difficult to call in to rifle range, particularly in the thick habitat typical of the South and Southeast.
The most successful trappers have a lifetime of experience and set dozens of traps on a single tract of land. What deer hunter with a full-time job has the time to run a trap line?
Researchers actually paid trappers, in part because most of their efforts took place prior to and during the fawning season when furs are of little value. Are you willing to put in the time necessary to catch your own coyotes or pay a local trapper to catch them for you?
What’s more, trappers on the Savannah River Site caught 169 coyotes the first year. They caught just 137 a year later. That might indicate they were successful in knocking down coyote populations. However, they caught 168 the third year.”
To read the full article from Buckmasters Magazine, click here.
Photo Credit: Original Author