White-tailed Deer Killed By Coyotes - Don McLeod's Nature Blog

March 23 - April 6, 2014

During late March I photographed the carcass of a White-tailed Deer which had been killed by Coyotes. The photographs were taken daily for a week starting on the kill date of March 23, 2014. The goal was to document what changes occurred in the carcass while the coyotes had their nightly feeds.

The first clue of something unusual was the mid-day flock of American Crows on the ice at the south end of Chemong Lake. A quick hike out to the scavenging Crows led to the discovery of the White-tailed Deer carcass. The first photos I took show a mostly intact Deer other than the open wound in the posterior abdomen. There were also some patches of fresh blood in the snow near the carcass. Due to brisk winds during the morning, most evidence of the kill was covered over with snow. There were no visible tracks. But it was clear that the kill had happened recently, perhaps only hours earlier. Only a small amount of the carcass had been consumed. Local cottagers witnessed a Coyote leaving the scene during morning daylight.

Over the next few days, I carefully examined the scene for tracks and other Coyote sign. The first couple of nights showed the most tracks and sign. At any given time there did not appear to be more than four Coyotes involved and most nights there were tracks from two individuals: one set of large tracks from a large male and the smaller tracks likely from a female. Observations from waterfront homeowners near the carcass identified one to three Coyotes feeding on the carcass.

Most of the carcass consumption occurred during the first four nights after the kill. Dramatic changes due to Coyotes feeding show in the photographs of Day 2 to Day 5. During Day 6 and 7 the carcass was relatively static. Scavenging by American Crow and Turkey Vulture took place every day during that first week, but tailed off gradually during the following week. The final photographs were taken on Day 15 and they showed little change from Day 7 aside from further scavenging and sun bleaching.

Photo of a White-tailed Deer head on the day that the Deer had been killed by Coyotes

White-tailed Deer - kill site, carcass ( head view)

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