It appears that the efforts to protect wild animals can and does have negative effects. Predators are misunderstood and therefore have been protected. Protected to a point that nearly every state in the Union that hosts coyotes have troubles.

The Charleston Gazette yesterday asked if coyotes were suppressing West Virginia’s deer population. There was once a time when states like Virginia and West Virginia that had swollen deer populations actually welcomed the predator varmint as a tool to help keep the number of deer in check. But what is happening is the checking has gotten out of hand in some cases and now deer populations are declining at a rate that is sometimes alarming.

And yet it seems the sportsmen, who see this act taking place before their eyes, have no consensus from the state fish and game agencies. Many of these agencies are not willing to admit coyotes are a problem.

Maybe there’s help on the way. If these fish and game agencies don’t want to listen to what the sportsmen are saying then perhaps they will take heed to more and more studies that are being undertaken that hopefully will render some useful information to better understand how destructive these large predators can be on wildlife systems.

The first [study] should determine how heavily coyotes prey on deer and other Mountain State wildlife species. A West Virginia University graduate student, Geriann Albers, is picking apart coyote stomach contents and scat samples and is microscopically examining hairs and bone fragments to determine which creatures the coyotes ate.

I have seen similar claims made and those not willing to believe that coyotes kill deer, will simply state that just because coyotes’ stomachs may have remnants of deer doesn’t mean they killed it. Just ate it. This is one myth that needs to be debunked.

Most who have little or no understanding of Eastern Coyotes, can only seem to picture that Wile E. Coyote cartoon of a 15-lb. scraggly, scrawny desert coyote who couldn’t kill a flea. DNA studies of late have proven that Eastern coyote are part wolf, therefore explaining a larger size and different habits than that of the Western coyote.

The second study, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s pest-control division, tracks radio-collared coyotes to discover how they establish home ranges. Researcher Lauren Mastro believes the study will teach farmers and predator-control agents how better to protect livestock from predation.

Well, whatever. If we can learn from this more about the habits of wolves, i.e. where they go, what they do, etc., it may go a long way in explaining many things about the coyote.

There are still other ongoing studies, two of which I believe are in the Southeast regions. These studies seem to be more focused on the actual reductions of fawn recruitment and deer population stability as a result of the presence of coyotes. I’m anxious for this one to be completed.

Tom Remington