Diets of Coyotes in West Virginia

In recent decades, coyote have greatly expanded their range and numbers in the eastern United States. Increasing populations of coyotes can affect ecological communities directly by predation or through competition with other carnivores, making their impact a potentially significant one that must be understood for effective management. Identifying and quantifying items in coyote diets is an important part of understanding the role of coyotes in newly inhabited ecosystems, such as the Central Appalachian region. Our objective was to determine the diets of coyotes in West Virginia. We examined stomachs (n = 326) and scat (n = 693) from throughout West Virginia from November 2009 to May 2011. Preliminary findings indicated that deer, at 61%, was the most commonly occurring item in samples followed by plant material (39%), small mammals (19%), and fruit and seeds (16%). We ran an Analysis of Similarity (ANOSIM) to determine if diets differed among the six regions in the state and three seasons determined for this study. We found no significant differences in diets among regions or seasons (r = 0.105 and r = 0.134, respectively). We found seasonal and regional variation in coyote diets in West Virginia, and recorded selection of other more available prey items such as squirrels in areas with lower deer densities.

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