Coyote Use of White-tailed Deer Fawns in Relation to Deer Density

We detennined summer diets of coyotes (Canis latrans) from analysis of 523 scats and 9 stomachs collected on 7 study areas in Mississippi, Alabama, Kentucky, and Tennessee from May 1985 to September 1986. We compared coyote diets among 4 areas where white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) occurred in high densities (HDA's) and 3 areas with low deer densities (LDA's) during prefawning, fawning, and post-fawning periods on each study area. Important coyote foods (by frequency of occurrence) were fruit (45.7%), insects (36.5%), rabbit (Sylvilagus ssp., 31.6%), deer (30.8%), and rodents (23.5%). During fawning, deer were the most frequent (xˉ = 74.2%) major food item on the HDA's, and the least frequent (xˉ 8.8%) major food item on the LDA's. Summer use of deer was largely fawns (76.9%) and occurred in peaks corresponding to the local fawn drop. Significantly greater use of fawns occurred during fawning and post-fawning than in pre-fawning on the HDA's. The patterns of food use exemplified the opportunistic feeding behavior of coyotes.

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