OUTDOORS: Can Predator Hunting Help Big Game Herds?

Hunters like this man mare interested in protecting game herds from predation. Coyotes are responsible for lots of predation.

The meme on Facebook from Hunter Nation, a non-profit based in Mission, Kansas, carries a simple message: “Save a Fawn. Shoot a Coyote.”

Coyotes are but one predator which prey upon deer fawns, elk calves, beef calves, house pets and assorted small game, and one reader asked whether hunters kill more deer than coyotes. Evidently not, according to an article published in Deer and Deer Hunting back in February 2023.

The article, written by Dan Schmidt, revealed, “for the most part, coyotes take down the most deer annually in the U.S.”

Deer hunting, and for that matter, big game hunting in general, brings in much needed revenue to wildlife resource agencies all over the country. Millions of people buy hunting licenses and game tags every year, spending millions of dollars used for wildlife habitat, conservation, enhancement and protection.

Especially in the Midwest and West, coyotes are not only abundant, they are particularly active, especially this time of year when young animals are at their most vulnerable. In many states, they can be shot on sight. Washington requires a hunting license, but in Nebraska, they are non-game animals and can be taken year-around, according to Nebraska Game & Parks.

In Kansas, according to the Department of Wildlife & Parks, “There is no closed season for trapping or hunting coyotes. Motor vehicles and radios in vehicles may be used to hunt coyotes only. Fur harvester license is required to trap and sell; hunting license is required to hunt and sell.”

“In Colorado,” according to the Department of Wildlife and Parks, “coyotes are classified as a game species and may be taken year-round with either a small game or a furbearer license. Landowners may kill coyotes, without a license, on their land if the coyotes threaten their property or livestock.”

Hunters should check their state wildlife agency regulations, but typically there are no bag limits on coyotes, and they are definitely susceptible to a small-caliber bullet traveling at speeds ranging upwards to more than 3,400 fps.

As noted by author Schmidt, “There are millions of coyotes in the continental U.S., although they primarily prey upon rodents and other small-game animals, they can wreak havoc on deer herds.” He estimates there are some 4.7  million yodel dogs in the U.S., and one thing I learned years ago from a biologist is that coyotes, like other predators, “spend all of their waking hours looking for their next meal.” This isn’t a Disney cartoon where animals sing. This is Nature, and she is an unforgiving mother.

Coyote hunters have probably used every caliber of smallbore centerfire rifle on the map, from the .22 Swift upwards for conking ‘yotes, and that would include the .204 Ruger, .223 Remington, .22-250 Remington, .243 Winchester, .257 Roberts.

You can count on finding coyotes just about anywhere there is a prey base, which would include domestic pets as well as rabbits, mice and other small creatures, as well as fawns and calves. I know more than one person who has hunted coyotes with an AR-15, which puts the lie to claims by anti-gunners that nobody hunts with such rifles. They just don’t hunt deer with them.

Predation isn’t just the realm of coyotes of course. Black bears, mountain lions and wolves kill lots of wildlife, and they do it year around. Hunters only get involved in the fall.

According to Schmidt’s article, “black bears take the highest percentage of newborn whitetails,” and it probably isn’t stretching credulity to suggest they also take down mule deer and blacktail deer in large numbers.

Wolves, says Schmidt, “kill a lot of deer every year, and in areas where wolves are abundant, they will take out 20 deer per year annually.”

Mountain lions are another problem, and Schmidt estimated they kill maybe 1.5 million deer annually.

Hunters take about 6 million deer each season, Schmidt suggested.

Long story short, the Facebook meme seems about right. Coyotes do take a lot of deer, so if you want to save a fawn, shoot a coyote.

The post OUTDOORS: Can Predator Hunting Help Big Game Herds? appeared first on Liberty Park Press.

Dave Workman

Dave Workman

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