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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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Saturday, January 31, 2015

We have previously reported on State University of New York Biologist jacqueline Frair's exstensive 5 year 2007-2012 Eastern Coyote research in the Empire State......Her peer reviewed data suggests a minimum of 15,000 breeding pairs of "Songdogs" reside in New York, found in every county(Coyotes in every borough in NYC as well as on Long Island)......With annual litters averaging 6 to 12 pups and estimating on the conservative side that 25% of them survive their first year on the planet, there could be 45,000 or more Coyotes at the peak of their yearly cycle(early Fall, prior to winter) in NY................Frair acknowledges that Coyotes are opportunistic on their killing of Deer fawns (normally, fawns most vulnerable during the first three weeks of their lives) each Spring,,,,,,,,,,,,,But very little evidence of any real consumption of Adult deer(perhaps 10% of weakened Winter stressed deer) except for scavenged animals............Frair further concludes that just like the findings from nearby Pennsylvania biologists, Coyote predation on fawns is not causing state deer herds to shrink........As in Pennsylvania, NY also has a healthy black bear population who also dines on fawns and even with this symbiotic predation, there is still no evidence of deer herds being dampened.............I again say that the recent South Carolina research intimating that coyotes are tamping down deer in the southeast seems skewed in someway to augment human hunting and agricultural groups desire to rId their woods of a competitor...............REALISTICALLY, EASTERN WOLVES AND PUMAS ARE THE TRUE "EQUILIBRIUM BALANCING AGENTS" NEEDED IN OUR EASTERN WOODLANDS IF WE ARE TO HELP OUR REGENERATE THEM TO OPTIMUM DIVERSITY AND BRING DEER HERDS BACK DOWN TO THE 6 TO 12 PER SQUARE MILE DENSITY THAT EXISTED FOR MILLENIA PRIOR TO EUROPEAN "CLEANSING" OF OUR CARNIVORE SUITE

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Jacqueline Frair studies coyotes and their impact on the state's landscape.Frair, an associate professor at SUNY ESF and associate director of the Roosevelt Wildlife station at the college, headed a ground-breaking, five-year study of coyotes that began in 2007 and ended in 2012. The study, which was paid for by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, attempted to look at the impact of coyotes on the state's deer numbers and tried to get a handle on how many coyotes there are statewide.

In general, she and her team concluded that coyotes, which dine on a wide variety of animals and plants, prey heavily on fawns during the spring and early summer. Also, that the numbers of live adult deer that are preyed upon during the winter months are relatively small - limited mainly to deer that are either crippled by health or other reasons.
This part of the study was done by tranquilizing and then putting radio collars on coyotes and tracking them afterward to analyze their kills in both the summer and winter. It's Frair's opinion that enough fawns do survive through the summer. She added that with the relatively small numbers of adult deer that seem to be taken during the winter by coyotes, the state's overall deer population is "minimally" affected.
coyotekill.jpgIt's difficult to determine whether a coyote actually killed an animal or was just scavaging. Frair said. "Of 62 deer carcasses found in our study that collared coyotes had visited, we could determine cause of death at 39 and only 3 of those were actually killed by coyotes. That means less than 10 percent (1 in 10) of the carcasses a hunter sees in the woods might be caused by a coyote. 
The current state hunting season for coyotes (from Oct. 1 to March 29) is the longest hunting season in the state. The idea is to knock coyote numbers down at a time that is closely tied to when deer are the most vulnerable -- before the fawns are dropped, Frair said.

Frair noted research by her team and others indicate coyotes, which first appeared on the New York scene in 1925, are "everywhere" in this state - including Long Island and in many suburban and urban areas.

Prior to Frair's research, there was no existing baseline study done on coyotes in New York, nor did researchers have any idea of the state's "carrying capacity" for the animals. Frair's research involved the use of automated, coyote-calling devices in numerous areas and listening for the return howling or barking responses. Using sophisticated triangulation and statistical methods, her team identified more than 15,000 breeding pairs across the state - with an average of nearly 2.5 per 10-square mile area in Central New York.
"That doesn't include those coyotes that didn't respond to the calls, the ones that haven't established a territory, that are roaming about and those that now live in suburban and urban areas," she said. "We really don't have a total amount. The total is most likely double or more from what we found."

How does Central New York measure up against other parts of the state in regard to numbers of coyotes?
We're up there. There's less in the Hudson Valley and in the Central Plains area (south of Lake Ontario).

How did coyotes get here?
There were essentially two waves of migration that brought coyotes into New York. They are not a native species. The first record of a coyote in New York was in 1925. The first wave came here over the Great Lakes, through Canada and down into the Adirondacks and surrounding areas. The second wave came under the Great Lakes in the 1940s and spread into Western New York.(NOTE THAT COYOTES ARE NORTH AMERICAN NATIVE ANIMALS AND THEY ARE NOT EXOTIC CREATURES-----THEY SIMPLY HAVE EXPANDED THEIR RANGE DUE TO US HUMANS KILLING OFF THEIR COMPETITORS, WOLVES AND PUMAS-BLOGGER RICK)

What about coy dogs - animals that are half coyote, half domestic dog?

When coyotes first came here they had a hard time finding mates and got desperate. They ended up mating with feral dogs on the landscape. Current genetic studies of coyotes show that there's a little bit of dog and Eastern wolf (obtained from their northern migration) in them, but its mostly coyote. There are not a lot of "coy dogs" anymore.
Apart from man, what animal preys on coyotes?

Wolves. They're the only animal out that will keep coyote numbers down. Coyotes will avoid them. In addition, wolves put year-round pressure on coyotes.

How dangerous are coyotes?
All wild animals can be dangerous. The problem with coyotes is the same as with bears. Once humans start feeding them and they get habituated to that, they lose their fear of humans. In most cases, they're more interested in killing your dog or your cat. However, there have been a number of instances of coyotes attacking humans across the country.

How wily or smart are they?
Coyotes have to be smart. We know they're extremely adaptable. You can easily hunt wolves out of a system, but not coyotes. They figure out ways to get around you. You have them living in downtown Chicago. This animal has to be very clever to live in cities and suburbs and have people hardly know they're there.
coyotepupsgood.jpgControling coyote populations are difficult because one you bring the numbers down, the females tend to have larger litters of pups to compensate. 
There was a recent predator calling hunt for coyotes, foxes and bobcats that generated a lot of negative feedback from animal rights groups and others. Without taking a position on competitive hunting competitions, what does research by wildlife biologists show about the impact of hunting and trapping on coyote populations?
Well, the competition you're talking about (which featured 55, two-person teams that took a total of six coyotes) did not even make a small dent in the local coyote population. 

Research has shown that even when concerted efforts by government officials and others are taken to bring coyote numbers down (using poison, hunting them from airplanes/helicopters, etc.) that this animal has a whole bunch of mechanisms in place to survive. They start producing bigger litters, more females start producing litters - and with the reduced numbers to compete for food, more pups survive. And soon after the pressure is taken off - say within a few months to a year -- they'll be back on the landscape at the same level or even in greater numbers.

It really isn't a question about whether given enough effort, we could reduce coyote numbers. It's rather a question of whether we could achieve enough effort through regulated hunting to make a difference in overall coyote numbers. The consensus seems to be that damage permits enable landowners to manage coyote numbers on small parcels, like individual farms, but over large landscapes hunting alone simply will not be sufficient to set a lower overall limit on coyote numbers.

To read a summary of Frair's study, click on this link:

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