An online resource based on the award-winning nature guide

Coyotes and White-tailed Deer

coyote-scat-049a2842

Coyotes will eat just about anything they come across – rodents, rabbits and hares, beavers, muskrats, birds, even garbage. Whatever is available and whatever they can catch they will consume. Very often you find white-tailed deer hair in their scat (see photo), and while a majority of the time it comes from deer carcasses that they have come across, there are two times of year when they are known to hunt deer. One is in the spring, when fawns are vulnerable, and the other is during the winter, when one of two conditions are present that favor coyotes: when the snow is deep and deer have to struggle to move faster than coyotes, and when there are crusty conditions, when coyotes are held up on top of the crust, but deer break through, often cutting and exhausting themselves.

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8 responses

  1. Thank you for documenting this coyote activity.

    Sadly, domestic dogs, allowed to roam by uniformed owners, will capture and kill deer under the same winter conditions that favor coyote taking deer. “Cold nose” dogs, house pets, not known as hunter / trackers, will often accompany beagles or other hunting dogs forming packs that bring down deer.

    February 10, 2017 at 7:56 am

  2. Alice Pratt

    Mary, you certainly find a great deal of 💩 to take photos of!

    February 10, 2017 at 7:57 am

    • You’re right, Alice! One of the easiest to find, informative and most abundant animal signs out there!

      February 10, 2017 at 8:16 am

  3. sallyratcliffe70

    Sounds pretty grim. On Fri, Feb 10, 2017 at 7:49 AM Naturally Curious with Mary Holland wrote:

    > Mary Holland posted: ” Coyotes will eat just about anything they come > across – rodents, rabbits and hares, beavers, muskrats, birds, even > garbage. Whatever is available and whatever they can catch they will > consume. Very often you find white-tailed deer hair in their scat (se” >

    February 10, 2017 at 10:25 am

  4. We recently came across a large patch (about 3-4′ across) of deer hair on top of the snow. No blood, no sign of struggle. What do you suppose that was about?

    February 10, 2017 at 8:13 pm

    • Hi Eliza,
      If it were a month or two later, I’d say it was shedding its coat, as they can lose a lot of hair at once. I’m as puzzled as you with what you found. It sounds as though it was fairly fresh (?) so that there would have been bones, etc. if it were the remains of a killed deer. Very puzzling. If you find someone who can tell us what happened, I would love to know. I’ll try to find out, too.

      February 14, 2017 at 11:04 am

    • Hi Eliza,
      Here’s what Vermont deer biologist with Fish & Wildlife had to say: “My best guess would be that a piece of deer hide was carried to that location and consumed (except the hair, obviously). So it probably wasn’t the actual kill site, just where something ate a piece of deer. It could be from an old kill, but it’s impossible to say how far away it may have come from.”

      February 14, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      • That makes sense. Thank you, Mary!

        February 15, 2017 at 1:53 pm

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