In what many are calling the most unique coyote research of its kind, biologists at the University of Georgia have decided to take a fresh look at the effects of coyotes on whitetails. They will not necessarily be studying fawn predation or winterkill, but rather how coyote pressure impacts deer behavior. The results may just change the way we hunt.
Most deer watchers would agree, that high concentrations of coyotes have an effect on whitetail behavior. Deer living among high coyote concentrations act differently than deer living in relatively coyote-free environments. But precisely how? The researchers want to document these differences and find out the effects.
They’ll be studying whitetails in two controlled environments, one with coyotes and one without and comparing the results.
A few questions come immediately to mind: Do predator-stressed deer eat as much and as well as non-stressed deer? Are there differences in antler development? Does the presence of high concentrations of coyotes affect rut behavior among bucks? Are stressed deer lighter, heavier? How about birth rates? Do stressed does drop fewer or more fawns than unstressed does? Are there differences in the sex ratios of fawns? What happens when whitetails are driven from their preferred ranges and forced to live on marginal habitat? Are pressured deer more or less susceptible to disease? The answers will be fascinating.
The studies are just getting underway, but most deer watchers are betting there will be some interesting results. We should begin seeing some scientific findings on the effects of coyote pressure in the not too distant future. Outdoor Life’s BBZ will stay on top of the story.