Predator (coyotes) question

McFarmer

Active member
There are many folks here with deep backgrounds on pheasants, I have long had a question on coyotes.

How much net damage to bird populations do they really do ? I understand a coyote will eat anything it can catch. I also hear their main diet is small mammals. But I hunt with guys that shoot any coyote they come across.

I always have young guys wanting to hunt coyotes with their new night scopes, sometimes I agree but mostly I decline. My feeling is that a coyote taking a young raccoon, possum, skunk or stray cat would go a long way towards offsetting any nests or birds he would take. I mean South Dakota has a lot of coyotes don’t they ?

So can anyone point towards any hard evidence towards one side or the other ?

We had beef cows for many years and I never saw where I thought a calf was ever taken, and I heard many coyotes while checking cows at night. Feral dogs yes, I’ve shot a few.

Just a question that came to me on my walk this evening. Saw 16 turkeys, more than 15 deer (no antlers), lots of Canada geese, a few mallards and more pheasants than I could begin to count. They are really bunched up. One coyote track.
 

remy3424

Active member
PF magazine/journal, maybe close to 2 years ago, had an article and they "busted" the coyote myth. They said coyotes will kill some birds, but they kill more bird predators that prey on pheasants and their nests and said they were a net positive affect on the pheasant numbers. Not sure how I feel about that, but I have been know to shoot a coyote or 2 while bird hunting. I will trap these other bird predators (mink, skunk, raccoons and opposum), when I see lot of sign or see bunches on my trail cams on our farms. I do have a soft spot for red fox, so they get to eat for free at our place....not many fox around any more.
 

Prairie Drifter

Well-known member
PF magazine/journal, maybe close to 2 years ago, had an article and they "busted" the coyote myth. They said coyotes will kill some birds, but they kill more bird predators that prey on pheasants and their nests and said they were a net positive affect on the pheasant numbers. Not sure how I feel about that, but I have been know to shoot a coyote or 2 while bird hunting. I will trap these other bird predators (mink, skunk, raccoons and opposum), when I see lot of sign or see bunches on my trail cams on our farms. I do have a soft spot for red fox, so they get to eat for free at our place....not many fox around any more.
Remy is correct. Research supports the idea that they are a net positive. I have seen a number of feather piles from pheasants in CRP and it would be easy to blame the loss on coyotes. I tend to think that we injure more birds than drop out of the sky and the dogs get to retrieve. I think a lot of the feather piles are from the coyotes finding and eating those dead or injured birds.
 

Nugent

Well-known member
I don't think those cripples survive more than a few days. I hate to injure a bird, but it happens. There are all kinds of critters out there that kill pheasants. The coyote is one of them. Those huge owls kill a lot of gamebirds, at night.I would speculate that they kill more birds than coyotes.
 

remy3424

Active member
Not sure how many pheasants are taken by owls at night but the day-hunting raptors (protected) are likely the biggest consumer of pheasants.

Off topic on raptors, we burned 50 acres of CRP this past spring, within a hour, there were over 2 dozen raptors circling the site, guessing they were after the rodents, but they are pheasant killers for sure and there are tons of them around.
 

gimruis

Active member
I do have a soft spot for red fox, so they get to eat for free at our place....not many fox around any more.
Studies have shown that coyotes do not tolerate fox when they establish in an area. Same goes for wolves and coyotes. What this has done is increase fox populations in areas with active packs of wolves. So if you are a fox, the enemy of your enemy is now your friend.

As for coyotes, I think they would take a pheasant if given the opportunity. They are predators and scavengers and will eat what they need to in order to survive. I don't think they make a sizable dent, however. Raccoons, skunks, birds of prey, and especially feral cats do far more damage. I have read in magazines that coyotes actually seek out and hunt feral cats so that is one more reason to have them around.
 

NewmanCA

Member
I agree with this. Some of the farmers ( I am one also) blamed the loss of the pheasant population here in California on coyotes as the coyote population has spiked in some areas of the state. But that was not based on any science. I have read the opinion of biologists in the state which I tend to believe. It is the loss of habitat and farming practices (some practices economic driven others government driven and rewarded) that has decimated the pheasant population. It is actually chick mortality. Adult pheasants die off in large numbers but make up for it by having large hatches. The chicks are dying off by a lack of habitat (cover) and starvation (lack of insects). At least that is what is thought in Caliifornia
 

Nugent

Well-known member
Not sure how many pheasants are taken by owls at night but the day-hunting raptors (protected) are likely the biggest consumer of pheasants.

Off topic on raptors, we burned 50 acres of CRP this past spring, within a hour, there were over 2 dozen raptors circling the site, guessing they were after the rodents, but they are pheasant killers for sure and there are tons of them around.
Yes, I had a falcon following me about on the Missouri. Also, a red tailed hawk, and an eagle was watching from a cliff.
 

Golden Hour

Active member
I don't shoot coyotes, but don't really care if anyone else does. In the spirit of fair chase, anyway.

I can only provide anecdotal evidence to what I've seen, but the places I hunt with the highest numbers of pheasants almost always has coyotes. I don't know if it is cause or coincidence or something in between. All that to say, I'm skeptical of coyotes being a decimator of local pheasant populations. I'm sure they get some and I hope they get every rooster that gets away from Sage and I with a mortal wound. My buddy that ranches in western SD has more coyotes than is almost imaginable. But when you walk across his pastures and see the countless moles/shrews, it is pretty obvious that coyotes have an easier time hunting a more abundant prey than to focus their energy on pheasants.
 

haymaker

Well-known member
I do not know how many pheasants coyotes take but I have no use for them. As a cattleman I have seen plenty of coyote damage. We have a predator district that has shot as many as 711 coyotes in just our county in a couple of months. They put me out of the sheep business back in the 80s. I want them all gone and offer my pheasant hunters every opportunity to shoot them if they can. I may start paying a bounty. There were no coyotes here until the 70s and I would love to go back to that. Now would you like to know how I really feel about coyotes?
 

gimruis

Active member
They're way too adaptable and cunning to completely eradicate. They can even thrive in suburban environments on fluffy the cat or milo the chihuahua.
 

KSnative

Active member
I do not know how many pheasants coyotes take but I have no use for them. As a cattleman I have seen plenty of coyote damage. We have a predator district that has shot as many as 711 coyotes in just our county in a couple of months. They put me out of the sheep business back in the 80s. I want them all gone and offer my pheasant hunters every opportunity to shoot them if they can. I may start paying a bounty. There were no coyotes here until the 70s and I would love to go back to that. Now would you like to know how I really feel about coyotes?
Have you had trouble at calving time with coyotes killing not just the calf being birthed - but the poor cow, too? What a way to go.
 
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