There are many resources that claim hunting predators is not in an ecosystem’s best interest. To say that idea is short-sighted would be something of an understatement. The reality of nature’s delicate balance requires that every species has some checks and balances on its population.
When it comes to predators on hunting lands, the only check is human beings. If hunters do not hold down the number of cougars, wolves, coyotes and other predators, the essential balance may be lost. Not only will hunting land property values potentially decline, but deer herds and others could be significantly impacted.
Predator Impact on Deer Populations
Although predators can have a debilitating effect on a wide range of wildlife, their impact on deer herds, turkey flocks and pheasants may be the most devastating. Unlike small game such as rabbits, quail, and elusive animals, deer, are uniquely vulnerable when they are young. A single wolf or even a small pack of coyotes may be deterred by a herd of deer that includes bucks. There is safety in numbers. But that same wolf or coyote would be quick to target a vulnerable fawn in the coming months.
Predators have a natural instinct to target what we humans call the “low hanging fruit.” That leads them to cut the prosperity of deer herds off at their root. In practical terms, what happens is that predators are eliminating fawns and natural-born yearlings before they are able to produce offspring of their own.
Unchecked Predators Destroy an Ecosystem
There’s a documentary video circulating YouTube about 14 wolves being released into Yellowstone National Park in 1995 and how it improved the entire ecosystem. It’s truly a beautiful story about restoring nature’s balance. But thinking this applies to private or even public hunting lands would be like comparing apples and oranges. That’s because hunting is prohibited in Yellowstone and deer herds, among others, must remain a sustainable part of a complete habitat.
In terms of sustaining private and public hunting lands, the Science Daily article called “The predator survives — but the ecosystem crashes” would be more on point. Predators are indiscriminate killing machines that will deplete everything they can lay their fangs on. As Science Daily points out, allowing predators to go unchecked can damage an entire ecosystem. From grazing deer herds that keep undergrowth in check to bug-eating birds that emerge from eggs, predators wreak havoc at every level.
There’s a reason hunting licenses are issued for predators, and many states maintain open season on coyotes. Without human checks on their population, fertile hunting lands would suffer long-term harms.
My good friend Scott Buckley from Iowa takes predators on his farm very seriously as you can see in these pictures. Scott would tell you the keeping predators in check is doing nothing but being a good steward of the land. Helping to manage the resource that we are consumers of is our duty. As the story in Yellowstone makes apparent, no human intervention and things are balanced. Insert humans into an ecosystem, and we become a part of the problem which means we need to be a proactive part of the solution. The solution????? Yeah Buddy, it’s predator control.