Canon, S. Kemble. Management of Coyotes for Pronghorn? Division of Range Animal Science, Sul Ross State University.
Coyotes (Canis latrans) and pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) have co-existed for thousands of years, but in today’s production-oriented society the pronghorn may need some help periodically. Although pronghorn numbers have rebounded dramatically since the early 20th century, continued management of this species is necessary and may include “management” of its primary predator, the coyote. Pronghorn defense mechanisms offer protection from predators, but the coyote’s hunting strategies overcome these mechanisms. The Trans-Pecos region of Texas holds the greatest numbers of pronghorn in the state. Ranchers in the Trans-Pecos can use predictors, such as rainfall; strategies, such as proper livestock stocking rates and pasture deferment; and tools, such as predator control, to help manage pronghorn populations in the presence of coyotes.
Coyotes and pronghorn have co-existed in North America since the Pleistocene epoch. In this co-evolutionary process, each of these species has evolved behavioral, morphological, and physiological mechanisms which allow both the predator and prey species to survive. However, with the influence of human expansion and associated impacts, it has become necessary to implement management practices which enhance pronghorn survival.
In the Trans-Pecos of Texas, most of the emphasis in pronghorn management has been toward population manipulation through hunting, water distribution and fencing improvements, and predator control. In recent years, predator control has been a controversial subject, largely because of the increased influence of groups concerned for the “rights” of animals. The necessity of predator control in healthy prey populations also has been questioned by many in the scientific community. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the overall relationship between the pronghorn and coyote in the southwestern United States. Hunting and survival mechanisms, and management of the pronghorn-coyote interaction will be discussed. Specific emphasis will be placed on the Trans-Pecos region of Texas.