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Effective predator management

Coyote carrying a fawn.

With the urbanization of many areas around the world, we are inadvertantly creating perfect habitat for predators, while at the same time eliminating habitat for many game species. The current populations of coyotes, raccoons and skunks has been estimated to far surpass populations prior to the settling of our great continent. This reality has lead many biologists to look at predator management as a tool to help populations of certain species stabilize. Should landowners be concerned about predator management? If so what options are available?

Though it might not be evident overnight, or even over a season, high predator populations can really create issues on the prey (game) species on a piece of property. Whether we are talking about coyotes and bobcats or raccoons, skunks and opossums, the fact is out-of-control predator numbers are detrimental to many wildlife populations.

However, many land owners often completely miss their chance at doing their part to control predators. Sure, shooting coyotes from long ranges is cool, but not much of an effective predator population management technique. Harvesting predators only when it is convenient is not going to create a well-balanced population, and will start to show on the game species many love to watch and hunt. The amount of man hours required to hunt and harvest a couple of coyotes is intense and rarely makes a dent.

What’s the better option? Trapping.

A couple of centuries ago trapping was a large part of the homesteaders’ lifestyle and a key means for survival. In today’s society, trapping is, unfortunately, a dying skill. Even more disturbing is that often when the phrase “trap an animal” comes up, it is surrounded by terms like “inhumane” and “cruel.” But for the land owner wanting to manage the wildlife (especially the game species) on their land, trapping is a critical piece of the puzzle to maintaining a balance between predator and prey.

A single trap line can be set up pretty quickly and is an effective way to pursue predators 24/7. It isn’t something just anyone can do. Trapping is as much of an art, as a skill. The ability to coax an animal with keen senses like a fox or coyote into a small area to trigger a trap is a major accomplishment. A failed attempt to trap a predator most often results in an "educated" animal that is more difficult to catch the next time. In addition to the skills required to successfully trap predators, there are also state and federal laws protecting most predator species and regulating how and when they can be removed. Keep in mind a trapline isn't simply just putting some traps out, there are alot of thinks to think about and techniques and stratagies that are required to be succesful.

What is the result of good trapping efforts? For deer, it’s measured in greater fawn numbers; in turkeys and quail, better nest hatch success.

The bottom line is, when managing the wildlife on your property, you want to use effective methods to accomplish your goals. A trap line can be the best way to fine tune predator-prey balancing act on your property. Take a moment to schedule a consultation with one of our technicians and let us assist you in finding the best solution for you.

Over the next few weeks we will be posting more articles about predator management and specific species that can benifit from landowner efforts in predator management and habitat modification and development. Be looking for those, in the meantime learn more about our Predator Control services and discover more about some of Missouri's common predators the Coyote, Fox, Raccoon and Skunk in our Resources area.