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Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina Coyote recursive GPS data

Citation

Youngmann, Jordan (2022), Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina Coyote recursive GPS data, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.z8w9ghxgh

Abstract

Coyotes (Canis latrans) colonized the southeastern United States over the last century as large predators, including the red wolf (Canis rufus) and eastern cougar (Puma concolor), were extirpated from the region. As a generalist carnivore, the coyote preys on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and various smaller mammals, birds, and vegetation. While resource selection by coyotes has been well documented at the home-range scale, little is known about their foraging behavior, which is an important factor in thoroughly understanding influences of coyotes on prey and sympatric carnivores. We assessed 3rd-order resource selection of coyotes at sites across Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina during 2015-2016. Using GPS collars, we tracked 41 resident coyotes across 4 calendar seasons and identified suspected foraging areas using recursive analysis where individuals repeatedly returned to known locations. We found that resident coyotes selected for open landcover types throughout the year, while avoiding primary and secondary roads. Additionally, resident coyotes avoided forested landcover types while selecting for forest edges except from April to June when they foraged within interior forest away from edges. Previous studies have documented substantive predation rates on white-tailed deer neonates by coyotes, and that fawn mortality may increase in forested landscapes away from forest edge. Our findings indicate that foraging coyotes may select forest cover types during spring where fawns are more vulnerable to predation. Additionally, there has been debate in the literature as to how coyotes obtain consistent levels of deer in their diets outside of fawning and fall hunting seasons. Our study indicates that use of road-kill carcasses by coyotes was an unlikely explanation for the presence of deer in coyote diets throughout the year, as coyotes in our study were not observed using roads during foraging excursions.

Funding

Georgia Department Of Natural Resources

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources