Coyote Hunting photo

by Scott Bestul

If you read other hunting magazines besides ours (it’s OK to admit it, because I do too), you’ve probably noticed a bunch of feature stories in the last year, all covering the impact coyotes have on whitetail populations in the southeast. If you’re wondering why F&S hasn’t been in this mix, it’s because it’s old news to us. We essentially broke the story in 2009. (Here’s the column).

So there…Dave and I are done patting each other’s backs and tooting our horns on scooping everyone.

But there’s some more recent news on the coyote-as-deer-predator that’s really caught my eye. Researchers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP) are currently studying whitetail predation in an area rich with carnivores, both large and small. In a 350-square mile study area in the UP, whitetails are eaten by bear, wolves, coyotes, and bobcats. Preliminary findings indicate that, of these four primary predators, coyotes are leading the way in causing whitetail deaths. From this story on

I find that fascinating, especially given the presence of two wolf packs in the area. Wolves have long been thought to be highly efficient deer predators, given their speed, size and ability to hunt as packs. Moreover, wolves have the reputation as coyote-killers, limiting populations of the smaller canines wherever the two share space. Perhaps this new study (and another, soon-to-start in neighboring Wisconsin) will shed even more light on not only whitetail predation, but how predators relate to each other. We’ll be tracking this research in the months to come.