Hungry coyotes might threaten Georgia deer herds

Monday, Oct. 22, 2012 7:02 AM
Last updated 7:09 PM
  • Follow Metro

Trouble could be brewing between Georgia deer hunters and the state’s robust coyote population.

The dog-like creatures once roamed mainly the middle part of the U.S., but after humans drove out larger predators such as wolves and panthers, they spread to most of the United States, including Georgia, where they prey on deer fawns, scientists say.

“For the most part, this is an animal that eats smaller deer,” according to UGA wildlife scientist Mike Chamberlain.

Chamberlain and other UGA researchers presented their latest research in trying to keep track of Georgia’s coyote population and their impact on state deer herds at a recent meeting of the Quality Deer Management Association in Athens.

The Eastern coyotes we have in Georgia are bigger than their western cousins, Chamberlain said.

Scientists in the Northeast, where coyotes appeared before showing up in Georgia, analyzed Eastern coyote data and found they had bred with Canadian wolves. Coyotes also can breed with dogs, but those offspring don’t contribute much to the gene pool, the DNA analysis showed.

Coyotes are highly adaptable and opportunistic eaters, and change what they eat according to the time of year and what’s available, Chamberlain said.

In cities, they will eat pet food if they can find it. In the wild, they like small prey, including small deer fawns, and that worries some deer hunters.

Studies in Midwestern and Northeastern states show coyotes take 10 percent to 20 percent of deer fawns, according to UGA deer management researcher Karl Miller and Williams Gulsby, a UGA doctoral student investigating what they call “fawn recruitment,” the number of fawns who survive to a certain age.

But studies indicate coyotes dine on fawns more often in Southeastern states, Gulsby and Miller wrote in Quality Whitetails, a journal published by the Quality Deer Management Association. Miller runs UGA’s Deer Laboratory with another professor in the university’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, Robert Warren.

Southeastern researchers have found that coyotes may be cutting deer recruitment in half, reducing the fawn survival from about one fawn per doe down to about half that, Miller and Gulsby wrote.

Some ecology researchers believe state land management practices have resulted in deer overpopulation and see coyote predation as probably a good thing. But the fawn recruitment statistics worry some hunters.

“I like a lot of deer when I go hunting,” said one deer hunter.

Others worry that coyotes could become a threat to pets such as house cats and small dogs. Pets make up an important part of coyote diets in some Western cities, but scientists in Georgia haven’t seen much evidence that coyotes do much dining on dogs or cats.

But the Georgia coyote story still is unfolding, according to Chamberlain. Not only are Eastern coyotes bigger, but they don’t behave in textbook coyote fashion; they are so adaptable, they change their behavior according to circumstances.

“These animals are swarming all over the landscape, and they don’t take time to read books about what they should do,” he said.

But UGA and state researchers are trying to learn more.

In one Deer Laboratory research project, wildlife scientists are trying to see if they can get a rough estimate of the state coyote population using DNA fingerprinting of coyote scats.

Comments (16)

Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Riverman1
70479
Points
Riverman1 10/22/12 - 08:52 am
4
1

I see one casually walk

I see one casually walk across my yard out here by the river now and then. Is it legal to shoot them? Should people be encouraged to kill them? What's the story?

storiesihaveread
332
Points
storiesihaveread 10/22/12 - 09:52 am
5
0

From what I heard

It was an open season to kill coyote's.

scorehouse
171
Points
scorehouse 10/22/12 - 09:54 am
1
0

shoot them

Unpublished

they are fair game like wild hogs 24/7. thye will snatch a dog or cat in a minute. problem with these coyotes is that have bred with wolves converting them from solitary predators in to pack animals

Jane18
12331
Points
Jane18 10/22/12 - 10:14 am
6
1

"Illegal" Coyotes

Kill it Riverman!! They are a predatory animal, they don't care what smaller animal they kill and eat. Get that gun out, and be ready to make one less coyote in Georgia!

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 10/22/12 - 10:25 am
1
0

What is the open season on Coyotes

Any one have a GA DNR season schedule URL, or is it year around?

itsanotherday1
34600
Points
itsanotherday1 10/22/12 - 10:51 am
4
3

No season for coyote; shoot

No season for coyote; shoot any time, any place that is legal to discharge a firearm.

That said, I don't give a rat's patoot about the deer hunters seeing fewer deer. I support hunters because they help keep these pests under control, and if the coyotes do the same, so be it. Anything that reduces the deer population is fine with me.

agrit
178
Points
agrit 10/22/12 - 11:15 am
3
0

By RM

By RM "I see one casually walk across my yard out here by the river now and then. Is it legal to shoot them? Should people be encouraged to kill them? What's the story?"

My grandpa use to give us kids $50 a piece when we would shoot them (on his farm in south GA. Had cousins that racked up. Me ... I got $50.

Jane18
12331
Points
Jane18 10/22/12 - 12:24 pm
5
0

A Pest is a Fly, Mosquito, etc.(and a Coyote)

I hate to disagree with itsanotherday1, but, I cannot call a deer a pest. Yes, they will eat flowers in people's yards, they will cross the road at the most inopportune times, but, they were put on this earth for food, and for that, I, and others are grateful. A pest? No!

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 10/22/12 - 12:42 pm
6
0

not just deer

They love cats, rabbits, small animals and even small dogs.

There have been a few documented stories of them attacking small kids in rural areas and wooded areas.

For a good idea of their size checkout this size chart:
http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/08/coyote_attacks_kills_pet_dog_i....

I know for a fact they are all over Atlanta and Gwinnett Co.
GA DNR verified a photo I took of one eating my Rotties dog food, back in 2005.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 10/22/12 - 12:58 pm
3
0

I was under the impression

I was under the impression that the DNR put the coyotes here to manage the deer population. Anyway, I think they can be hunted day or night just like wild hogs. I'm not sure about the SC side of the river. They are in populated areas too. I saw one running around on the east bound side of I-20 at exit 5. I saw a dead one that had chased a deer onto I-20 at exit 1. They both got hit by cars.

itsanotherday1
34600
Points
itsanotherday1 10/22/12 - 01:51 pm
3
0

Jane

Flies we put on this earth for a reason too, but they are pests to humans.

Doug Duncan
343
Points
Doug Duncan 10/22/12 - 02:06 pm
3
0

Coyote

One ran in front of my truck on Riverwatch this morning between Fury's Ferry and Steven's Creek intersections. They are everywhere.

YeCats
8918
Points
YeCats 10/22/12 - 02:07 pm
4
0

Ga or SC. If you have a gun,

Ga or SC. If you have a gun, and a safe shot, shoot everyone of them you see!

Whats funny is our grandpa's had just about snuff them out.

grinder48
1357
Points
grinder48 10/22/12 - 02:15 pm
0
0

No closed season on coyote

Unpublished

Been hunting deer in GA 45 years. I'm seeing fewer deer and more coyote sign.

From Ga DNR regulations:

Coyote - No closed season, no limit, electronic calls may be used to hunt coyote, coyote may be hunted day or night.

Here's the link

http://www.eregulations.com/georgia/hunting/pageFlip/

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 10/22/12 - 04:18 pm
4
0

The GA DNR Cyotes Hunting season official answer

http://georgiawildlife.com/node/1391
The GA DNR Cyotes Hunting season official answer is:

"Because coyotes are a non-native species in Georgia, there is no closed season for their harvest."

So OK to shoot on sight, as long as it is safe to do so, and meets the laws about discharging a weapon within 400 ft of a roadway.

CobaltGeorge
138588
Points
CobaltGeorge 10/22/12 - 06:04 pm
0
0

OC

Just a slight correction:

500 Foot Zone - It is prohibited to hunt with, shoot, or carry a loaded firearm within 500 feet of any building occupied by people or domestic animals, or used for storage of flammable material, or within 250 feet of such buildings when waterfowl hunting in tidal areas from land shooting positions or from floating blinds anchored adjacent to land or from rock positions, unless written permission for lesser distances is obtained from the owner and carried. Landowners, their spouse, and lineal descendants are exempt from this restriction, providing any building involved is their own. The 500 foot zone does not apply to bowhunting.
Sorry I just saw 400' and roadway.

CobaltGeorge
138588
Points
CobaltGeorge 10/22/12 - 06:11 pm
0
0

Every State, county

is different about the distance you can discharge a weapon from a roadway.

gargoyle
10155
Points
gargoyle 10/22/12 - 10:33 pm
1
0

Call of the wild

Back a few years ago while I was layed off I could call them up near Walden Dr.late at night.From their healthy apperance I think I know the local lost cats whereabouts.

Back to Top

Loading...