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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

In South Carolina and elsewhere where there is no Winter snow, Coyotes rarely attack and kill adult deer..........However, the last couple of Southern State studies on the impact of Coyotes on newly born fawns(neonates) indicate that Coyotes can claim as many as 37% of newborns(as they did in the Savannah River Site in Georgia).........This is not a bad thing based on very high deer densities throughout the Southeast,,,,,,,,,,,,,simply requires Wildlife managers to limit the number of does and bucks killed by human hunters so as to manage for a ecosystem functioning herd of whitetails-----Note that the author of the article below puts a negative spin into his reporting conveying fear of the coyote impact on deer(a hunter biased spin implying that the sporting economy will suffer due to coyote predation)---Will the folks reporting on wildlife issues ever educate themselves so as to take a responsible tone in their journalistic accounting of predator and prey issues so that the health of the land gets as least as large a positioning as does hunter and rancher points of view??????

Coyote predation could force changes in deer management

Tiny fawn hooves recovered from coyote scat in Burke County point out the danger for young whitetail deer.  Rob Pavey/Staff
Tiny fawn hooves recovered from coyote scat in Burke County point out the danger for young whitetail deer.
Coyotes rarely attack or kill adult whitetail deer, but they have become a significant cause of mortality for newborn fawns, including those at Savannah River Site.  SPECIAL
Coyotes rarely attack or kill adult whitetail deer, but they have become a significant cause of mortality for newborn fawns, including those at Savannah River Site.

It is fawning season for Georgia's whitetails, and – at least anecdotally – the delicate, spotted newborns are scarcer than ever.
Perhaps their mothers have become more adept at hiding them – or maybe a warm winter and early spring staggered their arrival.
Evidence continues to mount, however, that the coyote, whose numbers have mushroomed in the past decade, is the primary culprit.

Just last week, at Yuchi Wildlife Management Area in Burke County, a friend noticed something odd protruding from a dried lump of coyote scat.At first glance, the enameled, triangular objects – smaller than a fingernail – looked like shark's teeth from a windswept beach. Instead, they turned out to be a pair of tiny hooves from a newborn fawn – the coyote's favorite early summer food.

From some perspectives, the spread of the resilient and reviled Canis latrans might help control overpopulations of deer. Many areas, however, might see depleted whitetail numbers.

U.S. Forest Service research biologist John Kilgo has been studying coyote-fawn predation at Savannah River Site since 2006, with sobering conclusions.Using radio collars, DNA and other modern tools, his team concluded – in studies from 2006 to 2009 – that coyotes are killing at least 37 percent of newborn fawns, and most likely as many as 80 percent, based on the ones studied at SRS.

In a peer-reviewed article scheduled for publication in August in the Journal of Wildlife Management, Kilgo and co-authors including S.C. Department of Natural Resources deer and turkey project leader Charles Ruth share the latest observations about the coyote's future impact on whitetails in the Southeast.

The bottom line, they say, is that if coyote predation on fawns is as high as studies say it is, the current hunter harvest levels appear unsustainable. Thus, wildlife agencies might have to amend seasons or bag limits to compensate for the number of deer killed as fawns.

"The effects of coyote predation on recruitment should be considered when setting harvest goals, regardless of whether local deer population size is currently above or below desired levels, because coyotes can substantially reduce fawn recruitment," the article said.

At Savannah River Site, coyotes have succeeded in affecting deer populations that were immune from change by other factors. "During the pre-coyote period, predation by bobcats, disease, malnutrition, and doubtless many other mortality factors operated in the SRS population without excessively depressing recruitment," the authors said. "Our data demonstrate that coyote predation on neonates can be substantial in the Southeast."

Excessively high deer populations could be reduced rapidly by coyote predation, the article said. "Conversely, in populations below desired levels, harvest reductions, particularly among females, may be necessary to offset losses to predation."

At SRS, for example, female deer harvest averaged 636 deer per year from 1990–2004, the period of the coyote's population establishment and growth."During 2005–2008, harvest was intentionally reduced to an average of 161 females per year. This 75 percent reduction in annual harvest, apparently necessary to offset the 77 percent mortality we observed among neonates, halted the decline and resulted in a more stable population trend. Such adjustments in deer harvest management may be necessary in many areas across the region."

What's next in the quest to better define the relationship between coyotes and our whitetails?
Kilgo and his fellow scientists is nearing the end of another three-year study focusing – from 2010 to 2012 – on how the removal of coyotes from a particular area alters fawn survival. The data from those studies is expected to be available in the next year or so.

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