The recent spread of coyotes across North America did not doom deer populations

phys.org | 3/20/2019 | Staff
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Coyotes eat deer, but not enough to limit the deer population at a large scale. A new study of deer numbers across the eastern United States has found that the arrival and establishment of coyote predators has not caused the number of deer harvested by hunters to decline.

"With wolves and cougars extinct in most of the eastern U.S., white-tailed deer have become abundant, sometimes overabundant," says Roland Kays, wildlife biologist at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University, and co-author of a paper describing this research. "Coyotes moved in as the new top predator of the east, but they aren't nearly as effective deer hunters as wolves, so there's been a lot of controversy about whether these medium-sized predators can really limit deer populations at large scales."

Studies - Coyotes - Populations - Results - Removals

Previous studies of how coyotes might be affecting deer populations have produced inconsistent results. Some experimental removals of coyotes found that fawn survival increases following coyote removal, but others have shown no effect. Kays and a team of researchers led by Eugenia Bragina from NC State, surveyed deer population trends from 1981 to 2014 using data from 384 counties across six eastern states. "Our study is unique because it's the first to link coyote presence to changes in deer population at a large scale," Bragina says. "Getting the big-picture of the interactions between these species helps inform the management practices of these species by hunting agencies."

The researchers collected county-by-county data on coyote arrival by assessing museum collections, and deer population numbers by tracking hunting records from state wildlife agencies. They evaluated these data for changes in the number of deer harvested after coyote arrival and establishment in an area, while accounting for environmental differences like climate and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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