Moultrie Mobile
By C.J. Winand

The word coyote is an Indian term, which means God’s dog. Native Americans gave the animal reverence and admiration. However, white man has waged war on coyotes. The case could be made that no other animal in North America has withstood more intense efforts by man to wipe them out, than coyotes.

Even today’s modern hunters curse the coyote because they take deer. The fact is, coyote do take deer, but the question is, “How many?” Do coyotes really compete against hunters, thus negatively hurting our hunting opportunities? Are there any states importing coyotes to control burgeoning deer populations? These answers have been determined through scientific research.

There is a lot of controversy among hunters, who insist that their state wildlife department has imported coyotes. Although most of this is simply based on emotions, one fact is clear, before any state imports animals across state lines they must have proper permits. I know of NO documentation to support such claims. And believe me, no state wildlife agency would ever jeopardize any kind of funding for such a project.

If the states did not break any laws, “Where did the Eastern coyote come from?” The answer to their establishment in the East is

In some areas of the Northeast, bowhunters are often faced with the dilemma of choosing between tracking too soon and losing the deer to coyotes.

still speculative. Theories suggest that the present day eastern coyote was probably a cross with a timber wolf that dispersed across Canada into the eastern US, a cross between a feral dog or was the same animal we used to call the brush wolf. Genetic studies lean toward cross-breeding with wolves as the most likely reason why we have coyotes in every state east of the Mississippi River. Research has proven that coydogs simply don’t pass the natural selection test and only survive a generation or two.

Coyotes are omnivores, which means they will eat almost anything. One research project in Texas showed that predators, primarily coyotes were responsible for 60 percent of all fawn deaths in one year. It should be pointed out that the study area experienced severe drought for two years. During the third year, rainfall amounts were back to normal and fawn survival increased up to 80 percent. This study basically proves that given adequate cover or hiding places (which most of the US has), coyotes will NOT impact a deer herd.

Hunters also point out, they actually see coyotes with deer parts in their months or they notice the amount of deer hair in a coyote’s scat. The real question is, “Are these animals the coyotes eating already dead?” Being an opportunistic critter, chances are the deer are already dead or carrion. From an energetics point of view, “Why would you chase a deer half way across the county when you could eat a road kill?” The answer is, no animal would waste the energy.

Where deer densities are too high and hunting pressure light, the coyotes are actually doing the deer herd a favor by taking out a few deer. On the other hand, where we have deer populations less than 10 deer per square mile, coyotes may have a negative impact. But, there are very few places in the country where this exists. Do coyotes negatively effect our deer herds? The answer is generally NO! In fact, in the big woods with an average deer herd and normal precipitation, I doubt whether it’s even measurable. Do coyotes take deer? Yes, but there is no doubt we loose more deer to road kills, birthing complications, disease, abdornmalities, etc. than coyotes would ever take to significantly effect our hunting opportunities.

Are Coyotes in your area affecting your deer herd? Discuss Here

CJ Winand is a whitetail biologist from Randallstown, MD. He is a staff writer for Bowhunter as well as Deer and Deer Hunting Magazine.
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