How To Educate Hunters About Predators – Predator Management

February 13, 2009 by  

By Bruce Hemming

Skunks are responsible for a high percentage of nest loss

Skunks are responsible for a high percentage of nest loss

Researching how predators effect game population can be difficult and time consuming. These days, it appears that everyone has an agenda and the Sportsman is the loser. This is not apparent at first. It seems like the first excuse is always the cycle of the prey species. While it’s true that all species experience a cycle of peaks and valleys, there will be constants. What that means is that the low end of the cycle will fall within a certain range. Add predators to the equation and new low cycles will appear. Here is a prime example of how predators like red fox effect pheasant population

Predation accounted for 80.8 percent of all classified deaths among a radio-tagged sample of 244 ring-necked pheasant hens on the Waterlow Wildlife Area in Wisconsin. More than 60 percent of the losses due to predation were attributed to mammalian predators. The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) was implicated in 80% of these deaths. It as also found that raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and opossums also eat of lot of eggs and kill ground nesting birds such as ducks and pheasants.

Here is a prime example of how predators like red fox effect duck populations. In a study conducted between 1968 and 1973 in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, the Dakotas and Manitoba; Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center biologist Alan Sargeant and colleagues found that foxes annually consumed about 900,000 common ducks such as mallards. Yep, you read that right; almost 1 million ducks are consumed by foxes each year! So with this data it’s not hard to figure out that effective trapping of red fox will increase duck numbers. I mean come on, this isn’t rocket science! Guess what? Predators are very effective hunters. They have to be because that’s how they make their living. Fewer predators equal more ducks and pheasants. Period

Coyotes are very effective predators and they’re also quite smart. It was documented in Massachusetts that the coyotes waited until most people left home for work before they came in to kill pet dogs and cats. This was in a suburban area. The normal excuse for this one is that urban sprawl is taking over, and besides, the animals were there first. Oh yes, to be young and naive again. The truth is that the coyote population in this case is exploding to the extent that the surplus animals are moving into new territory. Again this isn’t rocket science. Trapping was banned and coyote numbers exploded. Any area will support “X” amount of predators. When the surplus comes every year the excess numbers have to find a place to live and will eventually leave, searching for new territory.

Predators are flourishing with the abundance of food

Predators are flourishing with the abundance of food

The coyote is one of the top predators because they work in packs and are very effective at adapting to new environments. One of the nature shows back in the 80’s showed a video of a coyote pack attacking a black bear and her cubs. Guess who won? The mother black bear with all her ferocious strength, agility and power was not able to save her cubs from the pack. Deer and antelope fawn kills from coyotes are quite high. Two coyotes working as a team will consistently kill one or both fawns from the same mother. Survival of pronghorn fawns was 22.2% in 2002 and 41.7% in 2003. Coyotes (Canis latrans) accounted for 50% of documented fawn deaths. If most deer hunters really understood how many deer and antelope fawns were being wiped out by coyotes they would be screaming for a bounty! And more would likely be doing something about it in their area in the way of trapping and hunting them.

Here is a statement from the Maryland DNR web site.

Coyotes + Pet loss is similar to biological impacts in that no management scheme is available to address general, widespread problems. However, localized situations involving livestock loss can be addressed and problems either alleviated or resolved. After depredations have occurred, studies document that spot removal of offending animals is the most efficient solution.

That one isn’t too hard to understand. Again, this isn’t rocket science. The coyotes are killing pets and there is no management scheme that works. Livestock problems can be solved by removing the offending animals. But you have to ask yourself one question; who is removing the offending coyotes that are killing the deer and antelope fawns?

Wolves: Wow, what a subject!

From the Alaskan Fish and Game department we find this quote:

Alaskans are fortunate to have an estimated 7,700-11,200 wolves in our state. In Alaska’s Interior, predators kill more than 80 percent of the moose and caribou that die during an average year, while humans kill less than 10 percent. The average pack size is 5-7 wolves. A pack may kill a deer or moose every few days during the winter.

Did you see that a pack may kill a deer every few days in the winter? That means a pack of 6 can kill 15 deer a month in the winter! Again, this is not rocket science. Wolves are killing 80% of the moose and caribou, while hunters are only taking 10%. What about fawns? Fawns are the most under-reported wolf kills. (Kunkel et al., 1999) When wolves kill a fawn, they consume the entire carcass, leaving no evidence for scientific observation. Because of this, fawn kills are very hard to identify or define.

Here is an interesting interview I uncovered during my research.

Q. Bill R. wrote. “I have hunted elk in the area around Yellowstone Park for several years. The area that we hunt has fewer and fewer elk each year. The outfitters that I hunted with said the wolves are responsible for the rapid decline of the elk population. Last year we saw no elk for the first time in many years. Is it true that wolves are the problem, and if so, why would the government introduce wolves?”

A. Your outfitter is correct. The introduction of the wolf has been a disaster for the elk populations. We were led to believe the wolves would control the buffalo population. Not so. Any person with common sense would know a wolf would find it easier to hunt an elk than a buffalo. The wolves are now in many of the states surrounding Yellowstone and causing problems for ranchers and hunters alike. Why would the government introduce a predator when legal hunting would do a better, more humane, and less expensive job.

Wow! Let’s look at that again: “The introduction of the wolf has been a disaster for the elk populations.”

Here is a letter from South Dakota.

Now, all of the magazines I read have articles telling about the steady decline of the Mule Deer since the 70’s, calling the 50’s & 60’s the “good old days of Mule Deer hunting” or the Mule Deer Heyday. This is no doubt true; there were a lot of Mule Deer in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s all across our western land. It is also true that there are a lot less Mule Deer now and these educated biologists can’t figure out why! They say because of loss of habitat, drought or because of winter kill. They absolutely don’t want to admit that the predators, meaning coyotes, are killing and eating the fawns each and every spring. Sorry gentlemen and women-but coyotes do eat meat and they kill a lot of babies every year.

– Tom Trask- South Dakota Outfitter and Guide.

P.S. It doesn’t take a PHD to figure out what has happened to our Mule Deer on public land or what’s happening to the elk in Yellowstone National Park. Jackson Hole usually winters 11,000- 13,000 elk, they are down to 2500-3000 a year ago.

Predators are flourishing with the abundance of food

Predators are flourishing with the abundance of food

Did you see that the Jackson Hole elk population is down from an average of 12,000 to an average 2750? That is over a 75% decline. Why? One word: wolves. Alaskan studies reveal wolf population increases of 34% each and every year, and Alaska even allows hunting of wolves. Data from the first few years of our Tri-state wolf experiment also verify this same 34% annual increase.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or PHD to understand the devastating effect on the deer herd in the U.P. of Michigan. A friend of mine pointed out after the snow came that every deer track he saw had wolves or coyote tracks following it. You think they were following the deer for fun or to kill them? Many more hunters are reporting the same thing. I see doe’s with one or no fawns. I wonder what is eating all the fawns? Can it be predators?

Most folks can’t understand the difference between keeping predators in check and wiping them out. Maybe it comes from watching “Dances with Wolves” too many times. I will never understand a hunter that justify hunting by saying to keep the animals in check but can’t see the value of keeping predators in check. The America sportsman has done an outstanding job protecting and paying for wildlife improvement. But now the great comeback of the elk is in danger where the wolves are being released. The Canadian trapper that live traps the wolves to be imported down in the lower 48 warned that the wolves would have to be kept in check or it would be a disaster for the elk herds. Nobody listened to him. Looks like the elk around Yellowstone could have benefited from some selective wolf harvest. There is a balance between having the wolves around and still having game to hunt. The only way this can be accomplished is to get the Federal Government out of it and turn control over to the states. The state can do a selective harvest of wolves to keep the number in check. There will still be wolves in the wild but there will also be elk and deer to hunt.

The 70’s started the green movement in America, and with it came the ‘hug a predator’ attitude. After 30 years of massive brainwashing from all the TV shows, it’s going to take another 20 years before everyone takes off their rose colored glasses and sees the problem for what it is. Meanwhile, excuses will be handed out like candy to the gullible. It’s the weather, it’s a bad crop year, it’s a low cycle period, it’s the winter kill, etc. It’s human nature to believe you’re right and it’s also human nature that most people hate admitting they were and are wrong about predators. It’s up to you to see the truth and do something about it.

Wonder where all the elk hunting guides went for work. Hope they don’t all come to North Dakota and become waterfowl guides.


3 Comments on "How To Educate Hunters About Predators – Predator Management"

  1. Jim Vance on Mon, 4th Jan 2010 11:46 pm 

    Wow I never thought I would ever again see honest artical on Predator control. Thank You.

  2. Rick Shelley on Wed, 18th Aug 2010 5:25 am 

    On August 15,2010 I was fishing a 67acre lake in remote Hiawatha forest in Michigans U.P.From 300 or 400 yards away ,I watched a ruckus between at least 2 animals along the opposite bank.I could tell the smaller animal was a small deer bleating and running into the water to escape. . . whatever. As I watched it swim 100 yds or so to another bank,I noticed it wasnt alone. The bleating and rukus continued on the newly reached bank.Then quickly after a high pounce from the attacker,it was over.The attacker,standing 4 ish feet tall behind a dead tree,watched me appraoch for a couple of minutes.Then disappeared into the forest when I got within 70yds or so,in my canoe. I found the dead fawn laying by the water with what appeared to be a puncture wound in its head above the eye.The attacker seemed to be similarly colored as the fawn.Was it a buck,cougar ,bear, wolf ?Too big for a coyote. I was too far away to see clearly.I found no prints.It was difficult to investigate thoroughly as I knew the killer was very close.What do you think?

  3. Jon Wheeler on Sat, 26th Mar 2011 9:50 pm 

    Did anyone buy “YELLOWSTONE IS DEAD”? It is a fantastic epic!! LMAO…!!! This is the DUMBEST video I have ever seen. He pans the landscape somewhere in Yellowstone in winter and basically says “see; no animals; the wolves ate them all.” This should get an Academy award!!!

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