Sunday, April 19, 2015
Beyond repari?..........A three year scientific study to determine what is possible regarding restoring Caribou habitat in Alberta, British Columbia Canada has been underway for a year with biologists once again reiterating that Wolf depredation is not the root cause of Caribou decline across North America, but rather mans degradation of habitat being the core problem............... In fact,the Researchers state that-- "The devastation of human development has exceeded that which is being done by Brazil in the Amazon rain forest--with only 5% of The Caribou's land being undisturbed"
Posted by Rick Meril at 8:06 AM
Friday, April 17, 2015
Will National Park Officials insert additional Wolves onto Isle Royale now that the island's population is at the extinction point of 3 animals, down from 9 a year ago ? ............ The Island is the site of the longest running Wolf/Moose research study in the wild, having just completing 57 consecutive years of monitoring the island dynamics of predator and prey..........The lead Research Scientists Rolf Peterson and John Vucetich have been in conflict with Park Officials over the need to reintroduce additional wolves onto the island............ Park Officals want to wait until a full extinction plays out to determine whether to "plant" new families of wolves onto the island...........Peterson/Vucetich have long argued that we have permanently altered the incidence of winter ice bridges forming with the mainland and therefore the odds of lone wolves migrating onto the island(to infuse new genes into the existing wolves) without assistance from man has been reduced to virtually nil(despite this past winters freeze--which has not happened in decades as climate change has reared it's head))................“The study of what’s left will continue"............... “But the wolves, I expect, won’t last long". … "The future (on Isle Royale) would seem to be one without wolves, and moose without any predator to hold them in check". …“It’s very sad that we’ve gotten to this point".......... “It didn’t have to be this way"--Rolf Peterson
Posted by Rick Meril at 9:33 PM
Thursday, April 16, 2015
Journalist Emma Marris takes a good look at "top down" carnivore trophic cascades and comes away acknowledging that there are a myriad of factors impacting the rough equilibrium that both the "top down and "bottom up" trophic animals and plants bring to the circle of life in the wild..............As wolf biologist Rolf Peterson of Michigan Technological University, Doug Smith, a wolf expert who works for Yellowstone National Park and other colleagues recently stated---- "It is perhaps easier to find trophic cascades when you expect to find them"......... “A trophic cascade is an intellectual construct born in an imaginary world of simple food chains governed by equilibrium dynamics"......... "By contrast, most ecosystems are uncontrolled and entail complicated, multicausal food webs governed by nonequilibrium dynamics"......... "In other words: life is really complicated".................Read full article below.
click on link to read full story
A Good Story
Posted by Rick Meril at 9:36 PM
New York City starting to get a consistent stream of Eastern Coyotes parading through it's streets.............A few weeks back, a Coyote did a "tightrope and disappearing act" on the top of an abandoned building and bar,,,,,,,,,,,,,This week, the downtown Chelsea District had a Coyote sighting and subsequent police capture,,,,,,,,,releasing the fully grown Coyote into a wooded section of where the Bronx and Westchester County intersect.............Watch the ABC Channel 7 video and story by clicking on the link below
Posted by Rick Meril at 9:15 PM
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Today, Virginia Naturalist Ben Shrader provides a most informative and scientific accurate article about the first Coyote, Bobcat, Black Bear and White Tail Deer Study (2 years in the making) just completed by Virginia Tech Researchers.............."The project is meant to lend more scientific insight into the ecology of the study areas in Virginia, their support of white-tailed deer populations and estimates of the number of carnivores that affect them( food habits and population estimates for the three major predators: coyotes, bobcats and bears) according to Mike Fies, DGIF wildlife biologist and furbearer project leader for the state"..............The first piece of data coming from the study is suggesting that both Bobcats and Coyotes eat a lot of scavenged deer rather than outright hunting down "bambi"............."Unlike wolves, which are considerably larger and hunt in packs, coyotes and bobcats pose little to no threat to adult deer"..........."It’s possible that predator pressure, such as coyotes taking fawns, could have an effect"............ "But coyotes typically do not cause the population declines"......... "Those are governed by larger factors, like food availability"........"Biologists are not worried that deer will go extinct, even in the study areas"............... "Their numbers “are just lower than hunters prefer"................”In fact, trees may be more of a problem for deer hunters than predators"...... "Much of the woodlands of Western Virginia have matured over the past century or so, pushing deer herds to find better food sources elsewhere"................."And killing more coyotes is unlikely to help deer populations"........ "Instead, it will boost coyote populations"............"Coyotes are not just adaptable, they respond to high mortality rates by increasing their reproduction"........... "Hunting and trapping stimulates this, causing coyote females to breed earlier, birth larger litters and keep juveniles in their family groups longer before forcing them out their own"....................."Conversely, when coyote survival rates increase, the females breed later, birth smaller litters and push juveniles out of family groups sooner".........."Out of 15 studies nationwide of coyotes’ impact on deer populations"........ "Only two have shown any negative effects"
Virginia Tech study shows adaptability of coyotesA study finds that the state’s coyotes respond to population control efforts by ramping up reproduction.
Photo courtesy of Virginia Department of Game and Inland FisheriesCoyotes moved into Virginia in the 1970s and 80s, filling niches left by larger predators like wolves and mountain lions, which were extirpated from the state before the turn of the 20th century. For two years, Virginia Tech doctoral student Dana Morin collected samples and data on a coyote for a study funded by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.e of Natural Resources and EnvironmentPosted: Monday, April 13, 2015 5:03 pmBy Tonia Moxley email@example.com 381-1675
BLACKSBURG — The more coyotes you kill, the more you have.This biological quirk sets these relatively new Virginia residents apart from most other animals in the commonwealth’s forests, fields and even cities, according to Virginia Tech wildlife professor Marcella Kelly
But it’s a tough fact to accept for some white-tailed deer hunters concerned that coyote depredation may be driving deer numbers down in some areas of the state. The economic impact of deer hunting in Virginia is estimated at more than $250 million annually, according to the state’s deer management plan. That makes the deer populations particularly important.
To find out how big an appetite coyotes have for venison, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries commissioned a two-year, $300,000 study of coyote food habits and populations in Bath and Rockingham counties, overseen by Kelly, who specializes in studying predators.The project is meant to lend more scientific insight into the ecology of the study areas, their support of white-tailed deer populations and estimates of the number of carnivores that affect them, according to Mike Fies, DGIF wildlife biologist and furbearer project leader for the state.Deer hunters have complained for years that deer herds in the heavily forested mountains of Bath and Rockingham are declining, Fies said. Many suspect coyote are the culprit.There are no reliable population estimates for coyotes in Virginia, according to Fies. Harvest numbers, which are a major component of wildlife population estimates, are self-reported through surveys every two years. Conservatively, there may be 50,000 coyote in Virginia. “But we don’t know,” Fies said.
The study — conducted by Tech doctoral student Dana Morin and a team that includes a graduate student and some undergraduates — gathered data from camera traps, GPS tracking devices and DNA analysis of scat samples to determine food habits and population estimates for the three major predators: coyotes, bobcats and bears. Morin is writing her dissertation on the project.
Results are still being analyzed, but there is one particularly surprising finding: Bobcats eat a lot of deer, and there may be more bobcats in the woods than biologists thought, Morin said.Coyotes definitely eat deer, too, the scat samples show. But Morin and Kelly say it’s likely that they — and the bobcats — are scavenging hunters’ leftovers or deer killed in some other way, and taking the occasional fawn. Unlike wolves, which are considerably larger and hunt in packs, coyotes and bobcats pose little to no threat to adult deer.Coyotes look for the easiest meal available, Morin said. Much of the time that translates to rodents, especially near and on agricultural lands.Kelly said that when a deer herd is already in decline, it’s possible that predator pressure, such as coyotes taking fawns, could have an effect. But coyote typically do not cause the population declines. Those are governed by larger factors, like food availability.Biologists are not worried that deer will go extinct, even in the study areas, Morin said". Their numbers “are just lower than hunters prefer.”In fact, trees may be more of a problem for deer hunters than predators. Much of the woodlands of Western Virginia have matured over the past century or so, pushing deer herds to find better food sources elsewhere, Kelly said
Deer would need necks as long as giraffe to feed among the mature canopy trees that cover much of the study area, Kelly said. And those trees tend to shade out other food sources that would grow near the ground in younger forests.
And killing more coyotes is unlikely to help deer populations, she said. Instead, it will boost coyote populations.‘We are the predators’Coyotes arose 108 million years ago and tend to fill niches left by the decline of larger, more specialized predators such as wolves and mountain lions, Kelly said.Virginia’s wolves and mountain lions were extirpated more than 100 years ago. Coyotes came to the state in the 1970s and 1980s, as two populations met on a cross-continent migration, one from the south, and another from the north, giving Virginia coyotes a high degree of genetic diversity, Morin said.Coyotes are the “most adaptable mammal in the world,” Fies said. They can live in the cold of Canada, in the deserts of the southwestern U.S., and in Chicago. One was photographed recently on the roof of a building in New York City.But they have few friends.People and even governments have been trying to kill off coyote since Colonial days, Morin said. In that time, the animals have spread from six states to 49. It’s already open season on coyote in Virginia, where they are classified as a nuisance species. That means they can be hunted, trapped or taken at any time of the year, and there are no bag limits.In 2013-14, 2,898 coyote were reported taken by trappers, and 22,705 were reported taken by hunters. But the harvest totals may be overstated, Fies said. The figures are based on biannual surveys done by mail.About 17 Virginia counties have coyote bounty programs on the books, although fewer than a dozen were funded in 2014, Fies said. They don’t work, though, as 150 years of failure in the Western states has shown.
“Logically, it seems like a good idea,” he said. “But it doesn’t work that way.”
--------------------------------------------------Coyotes are not just adaptable, they respond to high mortality rates by increasing their reproduction, Kelly said. Hunting and trapping stimulates this, causing coyote females to breed earlier, birth larger litters and keep juveniles in their family groups longer before forcing them out their own.Conversely, when coyote survival rates increase, the females breed later, birth smaller litters and push juveniles out of family groups sooner.“We are the predators. They are responding to us,” Kelly said.Out of 15 studies nationwide of coyotes’ impact on deer populations, Morin said only two have shown any negative effects.‘They’re just coyotes’That’s not to say coyotes never cause problems. Damage to livestock operations does happen, and it can be significant.“A farmer that loses a whole crop of lambs in one night, that’s significant,” Fies said. However, those kinds of issues can be managed on the farm level. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wildlife services program traps and shoots problem coyotes to reduce agricultural losses, he said.But “the vast majority of coyotes don’t cause anybody any problems whatsoever,” Fies said. “They are rarely seen.”Morin describes them as shy and submissive. After catching them in the field in foot-hold traps, Morin said she was most often able to subdue them with just a bed sheet, taking measurements and samples and fitting the coyotes with GPS collars without a struggle.And anyway, on an ecological level, it’s impossible to get rid of them. Biologists have not been able to identify a level of hunting or trapping that will reduce coyote populations, Kelly said.Coyotes aren’t all bad, even for hunters. Fies said they prey on groundhog and raccoon, keeping their populations in check. This helps protect homeowner gardens and ground-nesting game birds like turkey, grouse and ducks. Game bird populations tend to be higher in areas where coyote are known to be present, he said.By the same token, deer aren’t all good. As the “largest wild herbivore … in the Commonwealth, deer have a profound impact on forest ecosystems. Deer also inflict millions of dollars in damage to crops, trees, and gardens and are a safety risk on our highways,” according to the state’s deer management plan.Are coyotes good or bad for the forests? Morin bristles a little at the question.People who dislike coyote project sinister human characteristics on them, often describing them as “wily” and “sneaky,” Morin said. Meanwhile, people who love them go too far the other way, sometimes feeding them and causing confrontations.In the wild, “coyotes aren’t good or bad,” Morin said. “They’re just coyotes.”
Posted by Rick Meril at 9:06 PM
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Ben Schrader is one of our Blog rearders who grew up in Tazewell County Virginia in the 1950's when supposedly Coyotes did not exist in his state and a full decade before Virginia Department of Game or USDA acknowledged their existence in Virginia.......The intolerance and downright fear and loathing of Coyotes was rampant in this part of the USA in mid 20th century and is depicted in the attached 1953 article(bottom of this post in tiniest print)........With this as a framework, Ben's conducted a Fall 2014 Coyote Survey in Bedford County, Virginia of both hunters and non hunters to determine if the antipathy toward Coyotes continues to this day................ The survey(edited and partially revealed below) was open from October 7, 2014 to November 7, 2014, 205 responses were recorded. ..............45% of the respondents felt that Coyotes have a positive impact on the ecology of the region,,,,,,,,,,,,20% were undecided and only 34% were coyote haters.............Interestingly, The Virginia Appalachian Coyote Study, a three-year collaborative research project between the DGIF and Virginia Tech, is in progress and scheduled to complete in May".............. "Some insight as to what the study may reveal(and whether it supports some of the results of Ben's survey) have been quoted in a Virginia Wildlife article by some of those involved"............. Dr. Steffen, biologist with VDGIF states "Research at Virginia Tech showed no differences among seasons in the coyote consumption of deer"............ "Outside of fawning periods, what coyotes are most likely eating are remains from hunter kills and road kills"
COYOTE ATTITUDE OPINION SURVEY REPORT
BY: Ben Shrader
March 26, 2015 Edited April 9, 2015
Introduction: Much interest in coyotes has surfaced in recent years because coyotes have expanded their range to all of Virginia including a particular area of interest, Bedford, County, VA. The coyote is a highly persecuted critter, harboring a widespread divergence of negative and positive images, while coyote's close cousins, red and gray wolves, have commanded more attention because they are endangered species. Prompting a need for a survey was as follows:
- Bedford Outdoor Sportsman Association was ask to co-sponsor a coyote lottery with Bedford County Agricultural Board. Upon solicitation of BOSA members, who are mostly hunters, it was revealed that there was a deep division (18 in favor and 12 against) on the ethics of wildlife killing contests.
- Friends of Smith Mountain Lake State Park sought a speaker for their lecture series to present a program about coyotes.
- A PowerPoint presentation about coyotes was obtained from Michael L. Fies, Furbearer Project Leader for Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries. He stated that public perception of coyotes does not align with facts.
Purpose: This survey and paper is to poll the local public and hunters as to their opinions and attitudes about coyotes and to cite other studies and articles to supplement as follows:
- Either quantify or dispel some coyote myths and opinions that do not align with facts.
- To identify issues in which programs and educational seminars may benefit the public to better understand coyotes.
- Quantify opinions of killing contests like the Bedford County Coyote Lottery and bounties to compare the opinion of hunters to the non-hunting public.
Procedure: A ten-question survey was composed and posted on a web site, "Survey Monkey". The survey was distributed to member of Bedford Outdoor Sportsmen Association, the local chapter of Quality Deer Management, Central Virginia Master Naturalist, Facebook (72 friends), and an assortment of other individual acquaintances. The survey was open from October 7, 2014 to November 7, 2014, 205 responses were recorded.
COYOTE ATTITUDE ; OPINION SURVEY
1. Are you a hunter and/or trapper?
Avid or part time hunter and/or trapper
Non-hunter/trapper having favorable opinion of hunting & trapping
Non-hunter/trapper, having neutral opinion of hunting and trapping
Anti-hunter/trapper against hunting or trapping wild animals
4. What is your general opinion of coyotes?
Favorable, believing they have a beneficial ecological purpose
Neutral, no opinion, or do not know
Negative, believing that they have no purpose of place among our wildlife
A study by Dr. John C. Kilgo at the U. S. Forest Service at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina reported 73% fawn predation by coyotes. This study was presented at Southeast Deer Management conference in Roanoke, Virginia in 2009. The study was promptly questioned and criticized by peers because of the likelihood of does abandoning their fawns after they were equipped with radio collars. The cries of the abandoned fawn were equivalent of sounding the dinner bell for coyotes to come eat.
Several studies also indicate that coyote predation is higher in poor habitat where there is lack of under story for fawns to hide in. This is a beneficial natural process that tends to balance prey numbers to match available habitat allowing over browsed habitat to recover by reducing deer numbers.
A literature survey posted by the Smithsonian Institution eMammal project concluded there is no evidence that coyotes are the factor that keeps deer populations from growing and actually evidence that some predation may keep the deer herd from overshooting the food supply. 
In an article posted by Quality Deer Management Association, North Carolina researchers Marcus Lashley and Colter Chitwood reported many fawns that were eaten by coyotes in their research project were malnourished and were vocalizing (bleating). Coyotes responded to these calls for quick and easy meals. Presumably at least some of these fawns would have survived if their mothers were on a higher nutritional plane. Coyotes are now part of the dynamic relationship between deer and the environment. Coyotes can affect deer herds positively or negatively.
A several year study of coyotes by Mississippi State University, determined that coyotes depredate white-tailed deer fawns and will readily scavenge carcasses when available. Further, previous researchers have suggested that increasing occurrences of deer in coyote diets during fall-winter periods were likely coyotes scavenging deer carcasses, rather than directly taking deer. Given the temporal distribution of deer occurrence in coyote scat (peaked during summer and winter), the data supports contentions that much deer consumption during fall-winter is indeed carrion or fawns during summer. In fact, fawns may be specifically sought by coyotes rearing weaned, rapidly growing young. As the deer population was relatively stable on Tallahala Wildlife Management Area in central Mississippi, consistent use of deer by coyotes likely resulted from relatively consistent availability of fawns and carrion across years.
Despite the studies from other areas there are no coyote specific studies that have been done in Virginia; however, The Virginia Appalachian Coyote Study, a three-year collaborative research project between the DGIF and Virginia Tech, is in progress and scheduled to complete in May. Some insight as to what the study may reveal have been quoted in a Virginia Wildlife article by some of those involved. Dr. Steffen, biologist with VDGIF states "Research at Virginia Tech showed no differences among seasons in the coyote consumption of deer. Outside of fawning periods, what coyotes are most likely eating are remains from hunter kills and road kills." David Montague, graduate student participating in the study quotes " So far, we have only found wild turkey remains in less than two percent of the 1700 scat samples we have analyzed." Nelson Lafon, DGIF deer biologist, cites a 2012 study they did at Quantico in Virginia found a coyote fawn predation rate of 18%.
COYOTE RESOURCE LINKS
About coyotes in Virginia
Benefits, disease and rabies abatement
Rabies in Virginia data
Wild coyotes in city of Chicago
Coyote habitat selection Mississippi State
Myths & folklore
Predator-pray relationships-1hour movie "Lords of Nature"
(link too long, research to watch)
Coyotes & Deer
VT joint cooperative study of coyotes
Smithsonian etc. Do coyotes cause deer population declines?
Mississippi State on coyote deer relationships
John Kilgo South Carolina Coyotes on deer fawns
Quality Deer Management Association on deer/coyote relationships
The Misunderstood Coyote- http://www.mfoa.net/animal_activism_events/activism/the_misunderstood_coyote.html
 Bruce Ingram, "The Coyotes Are Coming" Virginia Wildlife November/December 2014, p. 14-17
SUNSET NEWS BLUEFIELD, WEST VIRGINIA, FEB 23, 1953
SUNSET NEWS BLUEFIELD, WEST VIRGINIA, FEB 23, 1953
Posted by Rick Meril at 9:25 PM