February 6, 2023

Population Status and Foraging Ecology of Eastern Coyotes in New York State

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This research was initiated to assess the abundance of coyote populations in New York State and evaluate potential impacts of coyote predation on deer populations. Additional monies were secured separately to investigate other aspects of coyote ecology relevant to the DEC’s interests, and that research is also summarized herein. Despite deer dominating coyote diets in space and time, coyote use of deer reflects
alternate prey availability – driven by snowshoe hare and beaver in the Adirondacks and the composite availability of small mammals and carrion in the southern tier. Predation on adult deer in the southern tier was rare and considered largely compensatory during the relatively mild winters of our study. Fawn predation levels, as assessed by their occurrence in scats, were consistent over time and space – indicative of a uniform functional response across the deer densities observed in the Northeast. Based on GPS backtracking, fawn predation dropped precipitously through June and was greatest for male coyotes, at night, and under certain landcover conditions. Coyote density varied across heterogeneous NY State from 0.5 coyote pairs/10 km2 in the Lake Plains to 1 pair/10 km2 across the Adirondacks and northern river valleys. Vocalization surveys combined with distance sampling or a standalone detection model provides an efficient and reliable means of tracking changes in coyote density over time and space.<<<Read Entire Study Update>>>