John's Journal...

Coyotes: Helpful Predators or Deer Killers

Why Coyotes Spread Across the U.S.

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: Dr. Bruce Leopold of Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi, and his students conducted a 6-year study using radio transmitters to track about a dozen different coyotes. Today, he will tell us what he learned about the movement patterns of coyotes. Click to enlarge

"What really surprised us was the number of radio transmitters we lost," Leopold says. "When we put a radio transmitter on any type of animal, we usually assumed we'd be able to recover that transmitter because animals generally had a home range they stayed within. But when we put transmitters on coyotes, we learned that there was a high likelihood that we might never see that transmitter again. Coyotes had a much-larger home range than scientists once have believed they had. Some of the coyotes we put transmitters on had a home range of at least 12,000 acres, and many just disappeared. Even on a 30,000-acre study area, the coyotes and the collars both seemed to vanish.
In previous studies, we radioed both bobcats and raccoons. These animals for the most part were very predictable and would almost always be located in areas where they'd been before. However, we never could accurately predict where or when a coyote would show up.”Click to enlarge

Leopold continues to explain, “Our research has shown that coyotes are generalists and take advantage of a wide variety of habitats and food sources. Since they're not stationary or territorial, you never can predict where they'll be. We've sClick to enlargeeen coyotes range 4 or 5 miles in a single day, and they often cover 10,000 acres in a month. We've also had some of our radio collars returned from coyotes that have been taken 12 miles from their capture-and-release point. Although I don't know if this tendency is shared with western and northern coyotes, I think we can document that southeastern coyotes are nomadic.

“Too, Mississippi State, we've also observed that you may find coyotes in any type of habitat. However, young pine and young hardwood stands, both of which are home to a large number of rabbits, rats and fruits, tend to be the best places to capture our study animals. Other research studies tend to indicate that generally female coyotes stay within the same 5 to 8 miles, whereas mature males may have a territory as large as 30- or 40-square miles, which they patrol regularly if the food source remains stable. But if the food source changes, coyotes will move great distances. A number of young males have been known to travel and relocate more than 100-miles away from their original birthplaces. This information may explain why we have so many coyotes all over the United States, and why their territory seems to be increasing."

Tomorrow: To Shoot or Not to Shoot Coyotes

Check back each day this week for more about "Coyotes: Helpful Predators or Deer Killers"

Day 1: A Deer Hunt Ruined
Day 2: Why Coyotes Spread Across the U.S.
Day 3: To Shoot or Not to Shoot Coyotes
Day 4: How Coyotes Have Affected Deer Herds in Different States
Day 5: More on How Coyotes Have Affected Deer Herds in Different States


Entry 457, Day 2