“Everybody knows the NCWRC released coyotes to help control the deer population.”
“The NCWRC teamed up with insurance companies to release all the coyotes, because the coyotes kill the deer which cuts down on vehicle collision claims for the insurance company.”
“First coyote I ever killed had an NCWRC tattoo on its ear, so I know they released them into North Carolina.”
If you’ve been around enough North Carolina hunting camps, you’ve heard one of those remarks, or something similar to them. You might have even heard someone say their neighbor, or a friend of a friend of a friend (who is a very reliable source) used to work for the NCWRC and told them that yes, indeed, he was flying one of the black helicopters used in the 80s to disperse coyotes throughout North Carolina’s landscape, all in an effort to control the deer population.
These stories provide for some great entertainment, and sometimes lead to arguments that are just as entertaining. But, they simply aren’t true, at least according to the NCWRC. “The NCWRC has never translocated or released coyotes anywhere for any reason,” is officially stated in the agency’s literature regarding coyotes.
Of course, some folks are especially wary of what any government agency says, so skeptics just brush off the NCWRC’s words as lies to cover their tracks. But would importing and releasing coyotes really be the best way to keep the deer population in check?
It’s no secret that coyotes do, without a doubt, have a negative impact on North Carolina’s deer population. But is releasing yet another species of wild animal into the state really the way the NCWRC would aim to shrink the size of the deer herd? Wouldn’t it have been much more effective, and quicker, for them to lengthen deer season, open up night-hunting to deer hunters, drop the limits on deer, get rid of the harvest reporting requirement, and just generally call on all hunters to have a free-for-all when it comes to shooting deer? The bonus for all of these is that the agency could change those laws once the deer population was at a desirable level.
Also, out west, where coyotes came from, they aren’t even known to eat deer except in extremely rare instances. The ones they eat here, for the most part, are fawns in the first few weeks of their life. Coyotes are opportunistic feeders, and it didn’t take long after setting up shop here to realize that deer fawns are plentiful at the right time of year, pretty defenseless, and quite filling. Did the NCWRC just take a lucky guess that coyotes would figure that out?
The NCWRC has no problem saying coyotes are certainly here, in all 100 counties, in fact. So if the agency didn’t put them there, where did they come from? This question seems to have a two-part answer. First, coyotes were brought in illegally by owners of fox pens to train hunting dogs. Over time, the coyotes broke out of the pens. Second, coyotes migrated here from neighboring states. They are prolific breeders, and their numbers have grown dramatically in the past 30-years or so.