Coyote scavenging affects small carnivore behavior

For immediate release ‐ November 29, 2023

Contact: Jon Pishney, 919.707.8083. Images available upon request

Bobcats may act leery when coyotes have recently visited a gut pile

For a study published recently in Ecosphere, Alex Jensen, a postdoctoral researcher at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh, and his colleagues placed 75 trail cameras across a variety of forest habitats in early 2020, and again in early 2021.

The researchers watched the behavior of gray foxes (Urocyon cinereoargenteus), bobcats (Lynx rufus), opossums (Didelphis virginiana) and raccoons (Procyon lotor), paying attention to how many days it took these species to arrive at the carcasses. They also watched how other species behaved around the carcasses when coyotes (Canis latrans) had also visited in the past seven days.

Using data from 71 of the cameras, they found that coyotes were the most common mesocarnivores at the sites—they appeared at 90% of the sites during the study. Due to the extirpation of black bears (Ursus americanus), wolves (Canis lupus) and cougars (Puma concolor), coyotes are the largest carnivores in the area.

“[Coyotes] really only had a direct impact on bobcats,” said Jensen, who conducted this study while finishing his PhD at Clemson University in South Carolina.

Read the full article on the Wildlife Society website

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