Deer refuge undertakes lethal coyote control
September 24, 2020
In recent editions of the sheriff’s report, there were repeated references to night shoots at the Julia Butler Hansen National Wildlife Refuge.
Paul Meyers, a biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that agencies have been trying to reduce the number of coyotes on the refuge.
"We did conduct coyote control at the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer this year after a year of low fawn survival," Myers said in a written statement. "An intensive study conducted on the refuge concluded that fawn survival was one of the biggest factors affecting the deer population, and the main reason for low fawn survival was coyote predation.
"We always begin with habitat management to increase fawn survival. First, we manage habitat to provide more cover for deer during fawning season. This is done by planting trees, delaying mowing, and creating habitat structure in wide open areas. Second, we make sure that adult does have enough to eat. With better nutrition, they produce more fawns, and those fawns develop more quickly. Sometimes these steps are not enough, however, and we must reduce coyote numbers to give the fawns a better chance of survival.
"We have specific criteria for initiating coyote control that were published in the refuge’s Comprehensive Conservation Plan, which is available on our website. Each fall we conduct surveys for fawn survival, and every year or two, we conduct a general population survey. Coyote control is conducted when fawn survival is very low, the overall population is very low, or there is a moderate combination of the two. Specifically, coyote control is conducted under the following criteria:
"1. Deer numbers are above but within 25 percent of population objectives, and fawn:doe ratios are below 20:100.
"2. Deer numbers are more than 25 percent below population objectives, and fawn:doe ratios are below 45:100.
"3. Deer numbers are below but within 25 percent of population objectives, and fawn:doe ratios are below 37:100.
"The current decision was triggered by criteria number three. We are currently slightly below our population goal of 125 deer on the JBH Mainland, but fawn survival is very low. The decision to conduct coyote control is made on a year-to-year basis with the immediate goal of increasing fawn survival and the larger goal of increasing the deer population. The ultimate goal, of course, is to recover this population under the Endangered Species Act. It is currently listed as threatened. Coyote control is conducted by a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture called APHIS (Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service), which is trained to remove coyotes as humanely as possible."