Increasing concern surrounding the impacts of coyotes on white-tailed deer fawn recruitment has prompted a series of studies on this topic. Managers and biologists in Southeastern states are particularly concerned because coyotes have only been abundant in many areas here for the last 10 years. Although some work has been done in this region, little is known about the spatial ecology of coyotes during the pup-rearing season. Because denning and pup rearing is an energetically expensive time for coyotes, it likely drives the degree to which coyotes prey upon fawns. Further, it is imperative to understand the spatial use of coyotes during this period so that management practices (e.g., habitat modification, trapping efforts) might be adapted to lessen the impacts of coyotes on fawns.
In this unique study, we propose to gather information on the spatial ecology of female coyotes during the pup-rearing/denning season. To do this, we will fit female coyotes with GPS collars, which will allow us to observe their movements and spatial use across the landscape. We will look at how coyotes utilize different habitat types while resting, foraging, and traveling. We will analyze movement patterns and home-ranges. And finally, we intend to differentiate resident coyotes from transient coyotes in hopes that this information will, not only enhance our knowledge of general coyote biology, but also help further our understanding of the effectiveness of coyote management practices such as trapping.
The main objectives of this research are to determine/characterize:
- differences between resident and transient coyotes
- landscape use while traveling, particularly transient coyotes
- movement patterns associated with different coyote behaviors
- Home range sizes of both residents and transients
- Preferred habitat types associated with certain behaviors