Do you think a $4 million study is needed?
Lately the state of Pennsylvania has experienced a great deal of teeth gnashing (pun intended). The Board of Game Commissioners is all worked up about coyote predation — and for good reason. Coyotes and other predators seem to impact deer numbers across the country, and are continuing to grow as a topic of concern within the whitetail community. Consequently the Commission has ordered staffers in the Keystone State to tackle the ‘yote problem anew.
Great, right? But the rub is the $3.9 million research proposal submitted by staffers. Everyone seems to be choking on the price, and some aren’t convinced fawn predation qualifies as a four-million-dollar question. Presumably staffers are approaching the problem with a fresh eye, which makes sense in this scenario. If you want to study coyotes from the ground up, then a big picture look is necessary to determine whether a real problem exists and whether intervention (i.e. reducing coyote numbers) will really make a difference. And big studies carry big budgets.
Interestingly, one of the project’s leading skeptics actually submitted the pricey proposal. Deer and elk section supervisor Dr. Chris Rosenberry has gone on record stating his opinion that a predator-intervention study isn’t necessarily the best use of taxpayer dollars. He cites a major study on Pennsylvania predators that has already been completed, and asserts no evidence exists to suggest a predation problem in the state. According to Rosenberry the Commission assesses predation on deer herds every year. While predators do kill fawns, no field data to date reflects an “unacceptable predator impact” on either fawn recruitment or the deer population at large.