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Coyotes have minimal effect on state deer herd

Bob Frye
| Monday, March 29, 2010

There's been a lot of talk about how much coyotes are impacting the state's deer herd.

One researcher believes it's much ado about nothing.

Duane Diefenbach, adjunct professor of wildlife ecology and leader of the Pennsylvania Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit at Penn State's school of forest resources, said coyotes do prey on fawns, here as well as elsewhere.

But there's no evidence they're depressing the state's deer population, he said. That's true even though coyote numbers have grown over the years, he said.

"But our data tell us that coyote predation is not an issue in Pennsylvania," he said.

For the past decade, he and his students have been monitoring thousands of deer -- 3,000 overall -- that they captured and fitted with radio collars.

"Significantly, very, very few adult deer in our studies have succumbed to predation from coyotes, bears or anything else," he said. "We now know that in this state, once a deer reaches about 12 months of age, the only significant mortal dangers it faces are getting hit by a car or being harvested by a hunter.

Fawns fare pretty well in a world with coyotes, too, he added. A fawn study done in the state a decade ago found predation rates similar to what exists elsewhere, like in Maine, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa and New Brunswick, Canada.

"Our research has shown that overall mortality here is not extraordinary," he said.

Careers camp

The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is inviting teens to apply for its summer residential camp for high school students interested in pursuing environmental careers.

The six-day camp begins July 11 at Kirby Episcopal House and Chapel in Glen Summit, Luzerne County. It will introduce 20 to 25 young people to conservation and environmental careers. Activities will include everything from sampling streams for fish and aquatic life and to developing forestry skills to daily activities planned to get students out in the field to meet environmental professionals.

The camp is free to those selected. Students in grades 10 to 12 can apply and, after the camp, attendees will have the chance to seek internships, mentoring and job-shadowing positions and return as future camp leaders.

Applications must be submitted by Thursday. For enrollment applications and information, visit"> ; e-mail , call 724-865-7857 or write to ECO Camp Coordinator, Bureau of State Parks, Environmental Education and Information Division, PO Box 8551, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8551.


The Pennsylvania State Chapter received two L.A. Dixon Memorial Chapter Awards at the National Wild Turkey Federation's annual convention in Nashville, Tenn.

The state chapter was recognized for winning third place in the "highest total net/net dollars raised" and "more than 20,000 members" categories. The chapter was singled out for being "leader in the NWTF's chapter system, and a credit to the NWTF."

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