I’ve never witnessed a coyote take down a deer. But I’ve never see a whooping crane either. My point is I don’t for a minute doubt a coyote can take out a deer. It happens. In most predator/prey relationships the predator will exert the least amount of energy for the greatest benefit. Meaning it may be a fawn, small or unhealthy adult which may not have made it through winter regardless.
I will say that whether it’s a freezing cold and snowy winter, sickness, disease or coyote contributing to the mortality, the deer that survive are healthier and stronger than one’s which don’t. Like it or not, that’s a basic fact of nature. The strong survive and the weak don’t. The genes of the weak are snuffed out, while the characteresitcs and traits of the strong live. Actually in the long run it’s better for the future health of the population.
Here’s an interesting read from the South on coyotes. Keep in mind I’m a firm believer in species behavior and reserach being geographically unique. A coyote in Georgia is not the same as a coyote in North Dakota. There’s different land, weather, prey and competiton. But you’ll find it a good read.
Finally I always ask a basic question. Why should coyotes die so deer can live?