What is the natural predator to the deer? Do they have one (besides man and vehicles, I mean?)
I was thinking that other than the bear and wolf, North America is pretty weak on the meat eating predators. What happened here? Why, in the course of evolution, didn’t some animal rise up to the top of the food chain in North America? (I guess I’m looking for an equivalent to the lion/Africa here.)
Well, there were also cougars. We also tend to forget that a lot of predation is on the young and the sick. Probably a coyote or something even smaller could kill a fawn.
There were once a lot more large predators in North America, as there were on every continent except perhaps Africa. North America was once the home of animals such as lions, cheetahs, sabre-tooths, huge wolves as well as some other serious nasties. The real question here is probably why these animals and much of their prey died out on continents other than Africa. Climate change undoubtedly played a part, probably enhanced by human intervention, but I wonder why the same changes didn’t affect Africa. Were the African ecosystems able to adapt to the effects of humans because it was more gradual there?
During the last Ice Age, there were lions in North America, as well as sabre-toothed cats. Also a wolf the size of a horse, and a short-faced bear that seems to have been able run almost as fast as a cheetah. They fed on the herds of horses and camels as well as the deer. You can see many of their remains in the La Brea tar pits.
Unfortunately, about eleven to twelve thousand years ago, an even nastier predator moved in from Asia, and all these large carnivores became extinct along with most of their prey species. Modern wolves and pumas and bears have been filling in since then on what humans have left.
Yep. Current speculation is that in Africa, and to a lesser extent in the rest of Eurasia, large predators were evolving alongside human ancestors. They had time to learn that the little monkey-type creatures were gettng awfully clever, and they should probably avoid them. In the Americas, full-blown humans showed up and wiped out what was left over after the ice age, in one way or another.
BTW, no one’s mentioned jaguars.
Ah, you list “bear and wolf”, like that’s just two types of animal. Remember, there are black bears, brown bears, grizzlies… Here in Utah, we have a LOT of mountain lions (or cougars, if you will). There are wolves, coyote, fox (that may get a tiny fawn from time to time), badger, and don’t quote me on this, but I think a skunk will even take a newborn if it gets the chance.
Oh, and don’t forget Bigfoot, he needs to eat, right?
Most of them were hunted down, others were killed by polution. Some couldnt find any food so they died. I guess as the poplulation increased the amount of predators and animals in north amercia decreased.
Humans have pretty well killed off most of the big predators, either directly through hunting (mostly) or indirectly through habitat loss. Ironically, that same habitat loss for the big folks has resulted in a whole lot of habitat for deer. They like “edge” – that interface between woods and field – and our agricultural / housing land clearing is providing plenty of that. Here in the Hoosier state, humans are the main predators of deer.