Does Shooting Coyotes Affect Deer Populations?
What Do the Studies Show?
What you do in the deer woods in Fall will have little impact on coyote numbers of fawn prediction the following spring. In fact, it might do more harm than good to shoot the occasional coyote.
Numerous studies show that the alpha female is extremely good at defending her territory and keeping other coyotes away. If you kill her, then others might move in and fight over the territory. Therefore, you may end up with more coyotes than you had to begin with.
Even if every deer hunter on the landscape was plugging every coyote they saw, this still won’t do much. There was 3-year study on a large government facility in South Carolina examining the impact of coyote removal on fawn survival where paid professional trappers caught hundreds of coyotes over the course of the study. The survival of fawn increased the first year, but fell to about the same level prior to the trapping efforts and before rising somewhat the third year. Multiple studies show similar results: Killing coyotes may or may not improve whitetail fawn survival.
What to Do, and When
If you really want to decrease the number of coyotes to boost deer or small game on your land, don’t plug the random predator during deer season and focus on the fawning season. For example, most coyote control efforts in sheep country take place right before or during the lambing season, for good reason. This is when it helps to reduce livestock loss the most.
However, just know that requires lots of effort. To have any impact on coyote numbers, you will need to kill upwards of 70% of the population.
If you still insist on undertaking some method of control, consider trapping. Traps work 24 hours a day and a good trapper can set dozens in a day. Even if the best hunter can’t cover as much territory as a good trapper. Just make sure it is legal to trap or hunt outside of the established hunting and trapping seasons.
Get Used to Them
Simply put, few of us have the skills, time or resources to put enough pressure on predators to make a difference. Additionally, there is little evidence that you can shoot or trap your way out of predator problem in the first place. Coyotes are extremely adaptable animals that have survived decades of persecution and control efforts by some very skilled hunters and trappers.
Studies show that fawn survival is higher when they have adequate cover that makes finding them more difficult. Not only do overgrown fields, regenerated clearcuts and other dense cover help hide fawns, they grow plenty of other birds and small mammals that coyotes eat.
The more food available to the coyote, the more likely that it will eat something besides a fawn. A good habitat also means the land is more attractive to deer and other wildlife, so you can actually improve deer numbers by improving the habitat.
Check out part one of this article here. We hope this answers your question, “Does shooting coyotes affect deer populations?” For more information on our customized hunting blind options or to order your customized hunting blinds, contact us with the link below!