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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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Friday, July 25, 2014

We have written previously about the almost manic atmosphere that surrounds Coyotes in Pennsylvania..............While the Deer herd is super healthy and thriving(In 1700, Pennsylvania had 10 deer per square mile,,,,,,,about 500,000 deer.............. Today, Pennsylvania has an estimated 1.5 million deer—about 30 deer per square mile.-Source Penn State University), certain members of the declining hunting enthusiasts in the state want all predators except themselves significantly reduced from the woodlands.............. Dr. Jacqueline Frair who headed up a recently completed NY State Coyote study that revealed modest impacts of Coyotes on Deer said this about the proposed Penn. Study----"The concerns seen in Pennsylvania regarding coyote predation on deer were the same in New York before my Study,,,,,,,,,,,,, and after it was completed the mindsets really didn’t change"................... “The public is clamoring to say the coyote is having too big of an impact on the deer herd, and I don’t think the best scientific studies will change that"

Pennsylvania considers study on impact of coyotes on deer

A study being considered by the Pennsylvania Game Commission board looking at the impact of predators on deer populations could provide some valuable insight, but it’s only part of the bigger picture, according to a researcher in New York.

Dr. Jacqueline Frair, an associate professor with the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology at the State University of New York, completed a five-year study in 2012 gauging the potential impact of coyote predation on deer populations. By tracking coyotes fitted with GPS collars across three study areas in New York, Frair’s research determined that deer do comprise part of the coyotes’ diet, but the canines may not be killing as many as people think.

“Coyotes do kill deer, but a lot less frequently than expected,” Frair said, adding there are other factors to consider before determining any impact.

“We know coyotes kill some fawns, but without studying survival from the deer’s perspective it’s hard to tell exactly what impact coyotes have. You need to look at other mortality factors that deer face - winter survival, roadkills, disease.”

Frair has conducted predator-prey studies with wolves and elk out west and used the same techniques for a similar study in New York. In 2007, 15 coyotes were fitted with GPS collars and their movements were tracked during the winter and summer months for two years each.

The collars recorded each coyote’s location every 20 minutes, and when Frair and her crew noticed several locations coming from the same area they backtracked the signal hoping to find a kill site.

“If they killed something big, it would take time to consume it,” she said. “It’s a more efficient way to find carcasses while there’s enough evidence left. It even worked really well in the summer finding fawn kill sites.”

Here’s what Frair’s study found:
  • 86 carcasses were found in the winter, with 42 being scavenged deer that weren’t killed by coyotes. Three adult deer were killed by coyotes and they all had severe pre-existing injuries, such as broken joints.
  • In the summer, fawns accounted for 33 of the 56 kill sites discovered, followed by woodchuck (13) and turkey (10). Four percent were goose and cottontail.
  • Nine of the 15 collared coyotes killed fawns.
  • Fawns were only vulnerable to coyote predation for a short time. Frair said all of the fawn kills occurred in June and declined sharply beginning in July.

Frair said the fact that the fawn predation occurred primarily in June is evidence of “predator swamping.”

“The does all drop their fawns in a short window so it kind of overwhelms the predator - coyotes. It’s an effective strategy because there’s too many fawns that the coyotes can’t kill them all,” Frair said. “By the 29th of June, when fawns were bigger and more mobile, the predation by coyotes dropped right off.”

Predator swamping is only effective where deer numbers are high enough to produce a significant number of fawns, Frair added. In areas where there’s few deer, it won’t work, she said.

A study proposed by PGC staff recently would be for five years with a price tag of $3.9 million.

Under the proposed study, three 150-square-mile blocks would be used. One would be a control area, another where black bear populations are reduced by as much as 50 percent over two years and the same thing is done with coyotes in the third. Then, for the following two years, both predators would be reduced in each of the two study areas.

Then, the study may start generating some answers to three questions:
  • Does eliminating predators equate to an increase in deer numbers?
  • By lowering the population of one predator, will the other increase and kill more fawns than before?
  • Is there a way to control predators efficiently enough to increase deer numbers?

Frair was supportive of the proposed study because there hasn’t been much work done looking at compensatory predation on deer - when one predator declines and the other remains stable.

“Manipulating predator numbers is really the key thing that needs to be done scientifically,” Frair said. “These are critical studies that don’t happen because the price tags are so high.”

Frair cautioned the drastically reducing coyote numbers could backfire when it comes to impacts on deer. When numbers are significantly reduced, the coyote that remain have more resources to survive and produce larger litters.

“You could end up with more coyotes than you started with,” she said.

The concerns seen in Pennsylvania regarding coyote predation on deer were the same in New York before Frair began her study, she said, and after it was completed the mindsets really didn’t change. “The public is clamoring to say the coyote is having too big of an impact on the deer herd, and I don’t think the best scientific studies will change that,” Frair said.

It’s possible that coyotes are being unfairly blamed for having a detrimental impact on deer herds. During her work in western states, the public’s focus was on the impact of wolves on elk and other predators like mountain lions were overlooked.

“Mountain lions are secretive and not often seen, but the canines are more visible and people hear them,” Frair said. “Coyotes can and do kill deer. No doubt about it. I think it’s unfair to say they’re decimating deer herds. I don’t think coyotes are taking out adult breeding deer and we just don’t have the evidence to say coyotes are bringing down the carrying capacity for deer.”

 PAST 9 years


In 1700, Pennsylvania had 10 deer per square mile,,,,,,,about 500,000 deer..............and the forests were diverse with wolves, pumas, black bears preying on deer

Today, Pennsylvania has
an estimated 1.5 million
deer—about 30 deer per
square mile.,,,,,with Coyotes and Black Bears
preying on fawns to some extent-Source Penn State University


Western Wildlife Outreach said...

I am curious as to how they would propose to KEEP the predator numbers down in the study areas for the duration of the study. New bears and coyotes would move in, and they would need to keep shooting? trapping? poisoning? the new arrivals to keep the numbers down. This seems nonsensical to me.

Western Wildlife Outreach said...

The appropriate URL for Western Wildlife Outreach is

Anonymous said...

YES, Western Wildlife Outreach, it IS nonsensical, also(in my opinion) cruel and pointless and stupid to kill hundreds or thousands of animals just to see what happens! Now, if they were EATING those coyotes and bears because that's all they had to eat, I might be less critical! I say, INSTEAD of spending MILLIONS of dollars on such pointless, murderous studies the results of which ignorant predator-hating(but tax paying/voting) deer hunters will NEVER accept anyway, spend that money BUYING LAND to set aside for JUST the wildlife(NO HUMAN HUNTERS ALLOWED!!!), and be amazed(duh) at how populous deer and other animals are there without human interference, as they tend to be anywhere humans don't intrude! Regardless, you'd be preserving MORE habitat and MORE wildlife by doing this rather than doing one of these pointless "removal" studies. And don't get me wrong, I'm not against all human hunters, but those who only want the woods to themselves REALLY need to learn to SHARE. It's NOT an animal predator problem, but a selfish human attitude!.....L.B.

Rick Meril said...

LB............and Western Wildlife.....good morning on this Sunday..............Agree on all points both of you make..........Like in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea,,,,,,,,,wherever people do not go, wildlife thrives...........just like Lewis and Clark saw on the Prairie that between warring Indian Nations, the land that was NO MANS LAND contained the most bison, wolves et al.