Let’s face it, coyotes and wolves don’t exactly have a great reputation amongst hunters and have been blamed for everything from eating livestock, attacking dogs and other pets, and chasing away birds and rabbits, also the rare human attack. Of course most of the time this reputation is deserved but sometimes it is more story than fact. However, several recent studies have shown a boom in coyote population over the last 30 years. But this boom may be impacting more than just small game, livestock, and pets. More and more biologists are discovering that coyotes can have a major impact on the survival of whitetail deer, as well. How much of an impact this is having on overall deer numbers is yet to be determined, but it is significant enough to draw the attention of many of the nation’s top deer biologists.
The coyote wasn’t always familiar in the eastern U.S. in fact the coyote has only recently become a permanent resident in many states east of the Mississippi River. Normally a species restricted to the great plains the coyote began its expansion east with the widespread clearing of land, along with the drop in Timber wolf population in the north and drop in the red wolf population in the south. And with the coyote’s main competition gone, it was easy for them to expand east. It was somewhere in the late 1970s to early 1980s that the wily coyote started showing up in the western portion of Kentucky and slowly began its expansion east. To say they have done well would be an understatement, not only have there been complaints in rural areas but also in major cities.
One of the reasons that coyotes have been able to thrive in the east is the abundant food supply and the fact that they are very much so opportunistic feeders. Actually, it is easier to list things the coyotes don’t eat than the things they do. While their primary diet consists of rodents, they are also known to eat birds, insects, fruit, livestock, as well as whitetail deer. Alike most predators their diet changes seasonally. While the act of coyotes praying on adult whitetail deer is rare, studies have shown deer fawns are becoming more and more of the average coyote’s diet. Because of the coyote’s appetite they can be a major problem to many different species that people may want to hunt.
In conclusion, it is evident that coyotes are negatively impacting hunting by taking away a large number of species. And while scientists are working out how to control coyotes there has been no conclusion so for now we just have to hope coyotes don’t make too big of an impact