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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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Thursday, April 7, 2016

So many of our southeastern state biologists continually "moan" that Coyotes are decimating their deer herds.........This is so contraire to what northeastern states like NY and Pennsylvania have seen, which is Eastern Coyotes killing a % of fawns in Spring but not dampening herds in the least....................So good to see the article below citing North Carolina biologists citing facts rather than fiction regarding the so-called "horrible" 2014 hunt-------It was not Coyotes that dampened the 2014 hunt but rather "a huge acorn crop and some disease caused the unusual drop in the deer harvest for 2014"............ "Deer do not forage as much when food is readily available, thus cutting down sighting opportunities for hunters".................Still, disheartening to read that North Carolina bases so much of their deer management decisions around what hunters want to see occur------RATHER THAN FOCUSING ON THE TOTALITY OF WHAT IS BEST FOR NORTH CAROLINA BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY,,,,,THE WOODLAND REGENERATION AS WELL AS THE HEALTH AND WELL BEING OF BOTH THE CARNIVORE AND PREY ANIMAL SUITE THAT ROAMS THEIR STATE..............With a deer herd of 1 million, whether 140,000 killed in 2005 or 170,000 killed in 2013,,,,,,,,,,,,,,only 14 to 17% of the deer herd taken out of the woods, not nearly enough to keep deer densities below 10 per square mile, which would give the woods a chance to not be denuded by the herd

A better deer season for hunters

After a disastrous deer season last year, it looks like 2015 resulted in a much better deer harvest. Complete data will be unavailable until spring, but preliminary figures are positive, says Dr. John Shaw, deer biologist for the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
“It looks like overall we’re up seven percent,” he said.(some 164,000 deer killed).
In 2014 the deer harvest was down 18 percent from a record number of deer taken in 2013.
A huge acorn crop and some disease caused the unusual drop in the deer harvest for 2014. Deer do not forage as much when food is readily available, thus cutting down sighting opportunities for hunters.


A 2014-15 WRC survey list among the top producing deer counties as Northampton, Halifax, Bertie, Anson and Union. Poor harvests were recorded in Graham, Swain, Jackson, New Hanover and Dare counties.
Shaw estimated the deer herd in North Carolina is close to 1 million. He said a three-year study is underway to determine what improvements, if any, might be needed.
In a letter to deer hunters, Shaw said, “successful deer management involves the blending of 1) scientific management principles, 2) limits of the habitat/landscape and 3) desires of people. With your help, our sampling efforts have given us a solid understanding of the first two components. We are currently developing a scientific deer hunter survey as part of the process of assessing the third and perhaps most important component, the desire of people…”
Among the biological objectives of the study are a balanced sex ratio before peak rut, limiting antlered buck harvest before peak rut and limiting the harvest of yearling males.

All about the hunter and not about the health of the Carolina woodlands

“There are lots of strategies that could move us closer to achieving those objectives that include shifting the muzzle/gun season back, and further restricting buck harvest,” Shaw said. “Most strategies would mean hunters would have to make tradeoffs. In order to improve the condition of the herd, they may have to give up some traditions, opportunity days, and or be okay with increased regulatory complexity…
“It is conceivable that the survey will show deer hunters are okay with the current seasons and current conditions of the herd, or there is no clear consensus, and we make no changes at all…If that is the case, that is okay too because our deer herd is in pretty good shape as is. It could be better, but in reality the deer herd is doing okay.”
Deer are among the heaviest harvested species in North Carolina. Topping the 2013-14 survey were doves, ducks, squirrel and rabbit. The smallest harvest was found among grouse, bear, bobcat and woodcock


DeerHuntingForecast2015_NCNorth Carolina deer hunters reported killing 153,629 deer during the 2014-15 hunting season. While that is a whale of a lot of whitetails, the harvest was down significantly from the 2013-14 hunting season’s record deer harvest of 188,130. It was, in fact, the lowest deer harvest since the 2005-06 hunting season, when hunters reported harvesting 144,315 deer.

Evin Stanford, the N.C. Wildlife Commission’s Deer Biologist, linked the harvest decline to three probable factors: an abundance of natural food, the ongoing incidence of hemorrhagic disease in some areas and the high deer harvest that has been occurring over the last several seasons.

“We experienced a tremendous acorn crop in fall of 2014 the likes of which hadn’t been observed in some areas in decades,” Stanford said. “We also had high levels of hemorrhagic disease activity remaining in some areas of the state, particularly in Districts 3 and 5.

Several years of a strong deer harvest, last year’s record harvest and long-term increasing doe harvest trends have also potentially contributed to population decreases in some areas, although effects from harvest factors would typically occur over time and not abruptly in a one-year period.”

An abundant acorn crop makes deer less vulnerable to hunters. Deer that have acorns to feed upon tend to move shorter distances and move about less often. Hunters who are accustomed to hunting deer by placing grain, sweet potatoes and other agricultural crops in the woods, or setting up deer feeders to scatter pelletized feed or corn would therefore not have seen as many deer as they would have during a normal mast year.

Deer hunters who hunted deer by setting up stands over planted food plots or agricultural fields, or attempted to ambush deer traveling some distance between feeding and bedding areas, would also have seen fewer deer than normal.
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, which is the most virulent strain of hemorrhagic disease, has been an ongoing concern for the past three years throughout the Southeast, along the Mississippi Valley and into the Midwest. Blue tongue is the other hemorrhagic disease in deer. It usually does not produce mortality rates that are as high as EHD.

While the disease appears to be subsiding in its intensity in North Carolina, it is still having an impact in localized areas. Hunters and biologists are still finding deer that are suffering from the disease or have probably died from its effects.
The hardest hit areas are usually the areas that do not have the midges that spread the disease during years with normal weather. The deer in those areas do not develop immunity to the disease to same degree as deer in areas where the disease lingers perpetually.

Since midges are most abundant along the coast, the deer of the piedmont and mountain regions tend to suffer the most severe declines in population whenever there has been a disease outbreak.

Therefore, they experience longer recovery periods. Hot, dry summers followed by unusually wet autumns create the best breeding conditions for midges. Once the weather returns to normal, the deer population should continue its recovery in all areas of the state.

The 2014-15 reported harvest of 153,629 deer was 18.3 percent lower than the 2013-14 record harvest of 188,130. The harvest had been relatively stable, averaging 174,500 deer over the past seven years beginning in 2008-09, but now has dropped back near the harvest of 154,273 of 2007-08, which was the season immediately preceding that long-running, high-harvest period.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well, JUST the place for a North Carolina coyote lover to chime in! Maybe I'm an exception, but I have been THRILLED at the expansion of coyote range into North Carolina--we were some of the last in the East to get coyotes--I noted their presence back in the late 1970's--from their natural expansions, AND their purposeful introduction by fox hunters! Most folks don't know about the fox hunter "contributions" to coyote presence in the East--unless you were/are privy to the fox hunting community--but they were CONSIDERABLE! And ironic that it has become a popular MYTH(especially with deer hunters) that the Wildlife Commission released coyotes to control the deer, when it was actually OTHER HUNTERS that did! No doubt some natural expansion occurred as well, of course. HOWSOMEVER they got here, they have been a huge PLUS to natural ecosystems--no longer is there an enormous feral cat population, and mid-sized carnivores, like raccoons, foxes, skunks that used to spread rabies in regular epidemics when their numbers got high throughout the Southeast, now have a natural predator that keep their numbers down. As for deer predation--WE NEED a natural deer predator! Coyotes are actually NOT very efficient deer predators--perhaps the "coywolves", as they genetically spread throughout the population, will be better at that, I hope! A natural deer predator would help keep those epidemic deer diseases from spreading, and keep deer numbers in better balance with the land. As it is, we have DEER EVERYWHERE, and hunters that are so inefficient(often urbanized folks without a clue in the woods!) are simply poor hunters--but they cannot accept THAT--it MUST be those coyotes killing all the deer! That bumper mast crop they mentioned in the above article was preceeded by a SEVERE mast failure the year before--statewide--which caused deer to utilize the usual bait stations most "hunters"(really more like deer "farmers", in my opinion) shoot over in this state, which accounts for such success for human hunters in that season. It had ZIP to do with coyote predation or presence either year! I personally am ALSO looking forward to the return of "panthers"(cougars) to this state, which I think is only a matter of time now. But no doubt when/if they establish a known breeding population, you'll here the urbanized deer hunters bemoaning "them painters is killing all the deers!".....L.B.