Wily? More Like Wary – Eastern Coyote Flees From Deer
Are coyotes threatening deer populations?
It’s a hotly debated topic, but studies indicate coyotes do not perform the same ecological role as wolves, meaning their impact on ungulate populations varies.
Though coyotes are known to eat deer, they often consume them by scavenging on carcasses. When hunting, coyotes are actually far more often consuming small mammals such as rodents and rabbits.
Here at the Wolf Conservation Center, we have robust populations of both eastern coyotes and white-tailed deer occupying the surrounding woodlands.
With the use of our remote wildlife cameras, we have been able to observe the occasional interaction between the species, including an encounter where a doe stood her ground and stomped at a pair of passing coyotes, frightening them and sending them dashing into the woods.
Recently, we witnessed another exciting interaction. A large buck approached a coyote and stood his ground, flashing his stark white tail in warning.
The young coyote, who likely weighs 25lbs compared to the buck’s probable 200lbs, quickly took heed and disappeared from frame. The buck relaxed and stayed to browse.
John Benson, Ph. D., surmises the coyote’s small stature could be to blame; “the smaller size of coyotes appears to give them dietary flexibility to survive on a wider variety of food and prey sizes, making them less predictable predators of large prey.”
Minutes later, the buck’s presence still triggering the camera, we can see the coyote at the distant edge of the field trotting along the tree-line. The buck gives it a quick nonchalant glance over the shoulder and continues eating.