ESCANABA — Michigan hunters have been known to say that state’s growing wolf population is bad for deer. Their lament is about the diminished Upper Peninsula whitetail population. It’s not unusual to hear someone claim: “Wolf are eating all the deer.”
But what researchers found this past winter, the third year of a western U.P. deer mortality study, is that coyotes were the No. 1 predator followed by bobcats. Wolves came in fourth after a three-way tie among hunters, unknown predators and undetermined causes.
“I was somewhat surprised to see coyotes play as large a role in fawn predation as they did…,” said Jerry Belant, an associate professor of Wildlife Ecology and Management at Mississippi State University. Belant oversees student researchers who are working in partnership with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. He said coyotes were more prevalent than expected. There were also few rabbits and hares to feed upon.
Researchers got their data from 142 fawns fitted with GPS collars. The devices transmitted their location every 15 minutes. Eighty collared fawns died during the three year first phase of the study. Predators killed 73 percent of the deer…
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