The Press Room
Why You Need to Know about Your Land’s Predators
Editor’s Note: Mark Thomas, vice president of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), an organization that Mossy Oak has supported since its inception, is both a registered forester and a registered wildlife biologist. Thomas consults for the timber and the wildlife industries and constantly evaluates and improves properties for hunting. One of the key tools he uses in his daily work is motion-sensor cameras, often having as many as 50 cameras on one piece of property doing various surveys. This week we’ve talked with Thomas about what he’s doing with his motion-sensor cameras and how cameras can help Mossy Oak Properties’ folk improve their lands.
Question: Most outdoorsmen think of using motion-sensor cameras primarily to survey deer herds and to locate and take big bucks. Can you also use your cameras to survey all the wildlife on the property?
Thomas: Yes, I just finished a census of 2800 acres. I put 56 cameras on that land and used a variety of different types of baits, including fox, raccoon, coyote and deer scents as well as corn, sardines, tuna and catfood, to census the wildlife on the property. Then I put some of the cameras on game trails to survey the wildlife.
Question: Why were you using different types of scents?
Thomas: I used the scents to attract different types of wildlife. For instance on the census I mentioned, I photographed bobcats, feral cats, coyotes and predators using predator scents. Many times when you’re censusing coyotes, you’ll get a picture of a coyote urinating on your scent pole because he’s trying to mark his territory.
Question: Why is knowing what predators you have on the property important?
Thomas: If you have a large number of predators on your land, they’ll often cause a reduction in the game species you’re trying to manage. For instance, one property on the Alabama-Mississippi line that I was involved in had a noticeable decline in its turkey population in the last 3-5 years. I was called in to do a census of that property. What I learned from my photo-census using motion-sensor cameras was the property had unusually-high bobcat and coyote populations. Once we determined that there were a large number of predators, we instituted a trapping program for three years on that property. Our trapping program produced 47 adult bobcats. Forty-six of those bobcats were males. The male bobcats were running up and down the river system. Once we reduced the predator population to a more-normal level, the turkey population rebounded. The turkeys became more numerous on the property. So by using cameras to census your entire wildlife population, you can get a better handle on what may need to be done to better manage a specific species.