Tuesday, 30 September 1997 17:00


Written by Hunters Alert
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After having spent considerable time in the woods watching wildlife, I am convinced that the only time four-legged predators such as coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions take the sick and infirm is after they have already eaten all the healthy animals! Maybe that sounds like a strong statement to some; I hope it does. Death by predation is not a pretty picture. Seldom do predators kill their prey before they start devouring it.

During the past several years, game populations have been greatly affected by predation. With

trapping and hunting of predators frowned upon or even outlawed, predator populations have increased by leaps and bounds. This has resulted in these animals also being forced to expand their ranges. As a direct result, other wildlife populations, both game and non-game animals, are suffering.

According to such longtime wildlife observers as Dick Ray of Colorado, several areas of the state that once held healthy populations of mule deer now only have remnant herds due to

predators, primarily lions and coyotes. Several years ago. the area around Pagosa Springs held excellent mule deer populations, but today they are gone, primarily due to excessive predation by coyotes and mountain lions.

1 have seen the same things happen with mule deer and whitetail herds in some areas of far western Texas that I have managed since the late 1960's. I suspect that there are other areas suffering because of higher predator populations. In time.

the same will happen with deer populations in many of the Midwestern and Northern states. In states like Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, protected wolf populations are expanding. Large predator experts estimates that an adult wolf kills an average of 20 white-tailed deer annually. Wyoming. Idaho and Montana will likely experience similar predation on deer and elk herds now that wolf reintioduction is well underway.

Pure and simple, predator eat other animals, despite what television shows, celebrities, talk show hosts and some environmentalists would have us believe. And they prefer healthy animals. Sure, they occasionally will take debilitated animals, but that doesn't deter them from pursuing

healthy animals whenever the opportunity arises. What effect can predation have on wildlife populations? Plenty! During the late 1980's researchers, primarily Dr. Charles De Young and Dr. Sam Beasom, in Texas established two sizeable study areas. From one area they removed every predator, primarily coyotes and bobcats. The other was left with predator populations intact. Numerous deer were radio-collared in both areas, including several mature bucks. When the study-was concluded, it was determined that predators removed no less than 20 percent of the mature bucks from the uncontrolled area. Fawn survival rates were also considerably lower on the study area where coyotes and bobcats were not controlled. Similar studies have been conducted in Western states with the same results. .

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:17
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