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Coyotes cutting deer herds

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A rise in Colleton County’s coyote population is negatively impacting local deer herds, as state authorities continue to educate the community on what can be done to stop the growing problem.
A recent study conducted by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (S.C. DNR) near the Savannah-River site shows that 70 percent of all deer-related deaths are a direct result of coyotes. Particularly, coyotes are hunting and killing fawns and young does as they feed, according to Brett Witt, with the S.C. DNR.
Since 2002, the Palmetto State’s deer population has dropped by more than 30 percent –a decline that S.C. DNR mostly contributes to a growing coyote population. “We certainly see a link,” said Witt. “It’s a problem that we will continue to monitor.”
Coyote problems and a drop in deer counts have been reported in every county across the Palmetto State this year, said Witt, with state officials keeping a record of the rising coyote numbers. Though S.C. DNR officials say the coyote problem began in the Upstate through illegal importation, it is quickly becoming a damaging nuisance throughout the Lowcountry and in parts of the Midlands, he said.
“We have reports of coyotes killing deer and other small animals coming in from across the state,” he said. “They can be particularly dangerous.”
Local hunter and Colleton County Sheriff’s Office deputy Brian Ackerman says the deer population’s diminishing numbers has caused him and his family to cut back on the number of does that they can legally kill each season. Ackerman hunts on his private land near Colleton and Hampton counties.
Voluntarily reducing the number of doe tags they are using this season is their way of trying to promote the deer population while the coyotes cut it back, he said.
“I can tell a big difference in the deer population in the last three years,” said Ackerman. Ackerman says he hopes the state will continue to restrict the number of deer that can be killed by each person, and more strictly monitor the coyote vs. deer herd populations. “If they don’t, the deer herd will continue to drop,” he said.
For more information on the coyote problem in South Carolina, and for information on coyote brochures and upcoming coyote workshops for the public, contact S.C. DNR Certified Biologist Jay Butfiloski, at 803-734-4024.

Know the Facts
Hunting coyotes is legal in South Carolina year-round.
Night hunting of coyotes is also allowed, with weapon restrictions.
Property owners with coyote damage are eligible for a depredation permit from SCDNR.
Trapping season is open from December 1 through March 1. However, trapped coyotes cannot be relocated.
The use of any poison to kill or control coyotes is a violation of federal and state laws, in that it can kill other animals, pets and be fatal to humans.

Heather Walters (1722 Posts)