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Research indicates coyote predation on deer in East manageable
Date:5/9/2014

. "If that's true, then deer managers need to adjust how they make harvest-management decisions, because manipulating doe harvests is typically how wildlife agencies maintain, increase or decrease deer populations."

The study showed that coyote predation -- even at the highest levels reported -- is not significant enough to cause deer populations to decline if doe harvests are reduced. In fact, in most places in North America, continued doe harvest is required to stabilize deer populations.

Diefenbach said the only place in which that might not be true is the Southeast, where wildlife managers have found the highest predation rates on fawns by coyotes. In that region, an average of only one in four fawns survives to three months of age. But that is only in combination with extremely low doe-survival rates.

"However, we couldn't find any published research on adult-doe-survival rates in the Southeast, so it is possible that if doe hunting were stopped, deer populations would stabilize despite the heavy predation."

Mortality of white-tailed deer fawns is significant across the East, Diefenbach noted. Only an average of one in two survives its first three months of life, which is when most mortality occurs. Predation by coyotes, black bears and bobcats accounts for most mortality. Regardless, the number of fawns that survive generally is adequate to sustain nearly all populations.

"Besides predators, the other major source of mortality in fawns is hunting," said Diefenbach. "Thus, reduced hunting can be used to offset mortality from natural predators. Enough fawns survive all sources of mortality that we still need to harvest antlerless deer to maintain stable deer populations. There is little evidence to date that the increase in coyote predation could create a crisis that could not be solved by wildlife managers simply responding with reductions in antlerless deer harvests."


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Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
aem1@psu.edu
814-865-9481
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert  

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