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Why Predator Control Matters

Don't let anyone mislead you—predators in Southwest Missouri kill fawns and adult deer too, and this certainly has a direct impact on deer survival numbers on your property. Not only is mortality and issue, but the increased stress on the deer that survive in areas where predator numbers are high result in herds with decreased health. Deer in these environments tend to weigh less because they are more worried about staying alive than eating.

There has been many studies that show predator population directly impacts fawn survival. What's not as well studied by deer management specialists is the stress caused on surviving deer by overabundant predator populations. Fortunately, some researchers studied the health and behavior of elk when wolves were first released into Yellowstone and compared their health to elk in a portion of the park that was still free of wolves. Simply stated, the stressed elk weighed less and weren't as healthy as those where wolves had not been reintroduced.

Maintaining a healthy management plan means keeping track of predator and deer numbers. The idea is to create a balance between predator and prey species so both remain healthy. In some areas, balancing predator/prey populations is just as important as providing quality forage or other management activities that are widely accepted.

States like South Carolina have such a problem with predators and hogs they've openly declared war on them, even allowing night hunting practices. This trail camera photo, taken from a video, shows a mature buck being taken down by two coyotes—clear evidence that burgeoning predator numbers play a huge role in deer survival.

In addition to killing numerous fawns and adult deer, studies indicate that predators also reduce the health of surviving animals by increasing the amount of stress placed on them. This is more important than ever to keep in mind for deer management practices, since predator populations in much of the U.S. are on the rise.

Studies indicate that high predator populations result in dramatic decreases in fawn survival. One study in Alabama showed that aggressive predator reduction nearly tripled fawn survival compared to just one year prior.

To read more about this topic in Peterson's Bowhunting click here