Home Range, Habitat Use, and Movement Patterns of Female Coyotes in Georgia: Implications for Fawn Predation

Coyote (Canis latrans) depredation rates on white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) fawns are variable across the southeastern United States, perhaps due to varying dispersion of coyotes as related to social behavior and habitat preferences. To evaluate fawn predation risk related to coyote distribution, we studied home range patterns and habitat use of 15 female coyotes during the 2012-2013 fawning periods. Seasonal home range sizes varied but followed two general patterns. Small home range coyotes (SHR; likely breeding females) had a mean home range area of 7.4 km2 (CL = 5.4-9.5 km2), whereas large home range coyotes (LHR; transients) had a mean home range area of 47.1 km2 (CL = 27.5-66.8 km2). We measured consistency of space use as a gauge for predation risk by examining revisitation rates of core areas and quantified movements by calculating residence time along paths. Coyotes avoided pine habitats within core areas, avoided developed areas during the day, and selected open areas at night. SHR coyotes had greater core area revisitation rates than LHR coyotes. Residence time estimates suggested considerable variation in patterns of patch residence. Because of greater revisitation of fewer core areas, SHR females may have disproportionate impacts on fawn survival within their respective home ranges. Future research addressing interactions between coyotes and fawns should focus on improving understanding of how coyote spatial ecology affects fawn predation within an area.

Publication date
Starting page
Ending page