Mange can take a toll coyote populations

November 25, 2013

Some of you are already in hot pursuit of coyotes as cold mornings now dominate the nation. Others of you are still waiting patiently for pelts to prime. A few of you may be in other hunting mode as I was last week in southern Wyoming. I may have mule deer on the mind, but regardless of my hunting location I'm always casing the area for coyotes.

I have to admit that from our ranch-style hunting camp last week I was more than a bit excited about the coyotes in the area. Each evening groups of coyotes howled in the distance and from what I could do mathematically from the auditory clues the region must have had high success for coyote litters. I was hunting with Justin Lovercheck and Todd Steinbock who own "Not Your Typical Outfitters" (www.silverwingsportingclay.com).

During the hunt we caught sight of several coyotes dodging our mule deer stalks. Most looked healthy and were definitely irritating Justin and Todd who manage for coyotes aggressively to increase deer numbers on their properties. They may have a little help this year and it's a reason I always keep an eye open while hunting other game. Several of the coyotes we saw had mange.

Mange is spread by a mite that burrows into a coyote's skin. It causes itchiness, hair lost, thickening of the skin and crusty sores. In short, it's ugly and when winter blows in it leads to an ugly death for coyotes. Two years ago I ran across a coyote after a major blizzard that was balled up in a snow bank. It had no hair and was close to death. I helped it along down that road.

Some areas have slight outbreaks and others have all-out epidemics of the illness. Worse yet, if your dog comes into contact with another infected canine, it could spread depending on the mange variety.

Many factors affect the density of coyotes across the country. Government predator control, local hunting pressure, weather and disease like mange can turn a bumper crop of coyotes into a slim-to-none proposition. Have you seen many mangy coyotes this season? If so, where (leave your comments below)?