Hunters pride themselves on their ability to enter the domain of their prey unawares. The hunter out-smarts, out-maneuvers and finally takes out the target of the hunt. Every hunt is a challenge, but hunting a hunter is twice as difficult as stalking an animal that grazes. That’s one reason why predator hunting has attracted such a devout following.
The coyote is probably the most successful predator in North America. It has witnessed the near extinction of the grizzly, and until recently, the extirpation of the wolf. The coyote is known for its intelligence, cunning and adaptability. It lives as comfortably in the wilderness as it does in the suburbs of Los Angeles.
Lately, coyotes and human hunters are in a scramble over mule deer as there’s just not enough to go around. In the sixties, deer were ubiquitous and both man and beast enjoyed a plethora of deer-hunting opportunities, but things are now very different. Hunters must take their chances at lotteries, which limit the take. Human hunters must increasingly compete with four-legged competitors for the same booty.
When a coyote falls dead at the report of a rifle, there’s a sense of justice served, because the hunter has helped to preserve the deer herd. Coyotes have been implicated as the biggest threat to fawn survival. State wildlife managers, recognizing the threat posed by coyotes, have placed bounties on their canine heads. Hunters find plenty of financial incentives for gunning down coyotes.
Some studies suggest that in order to make a significant difference in fawn survival, at least 70 percent of a coyote population has to be removed from a specific deer population for at least three years. That’s a lot of coyotes! Needless to say there’s plenty of opportunity and it’s a good thing hunters like to hunt. Without their willingness to cull an overpopulation of coyotes, many deer herds could simply disappear.
To be effective, we need to take out more dogs than we educate. Smart coyotes live longer and eat more deer in the process. Hunters: hone your techniques on catching the wily song dog, and save a deer herd.