Brundige, G.C. 1993. Predation Ecology of the Eastern Coyote (Canis latrans var.) in the Central Adirondacks, New York. Ph.D. Dissertation, State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse, 194 pp.
Abstract: Coyote (Canis latrans) food habits, habitat use, and sociality were studied in the central Adirondack Mountains of New York from 1986-1989. Coyote foods varied seasonally. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) was the most common food item, occurring in 66% of scats and accounting for 49% of total scat volume. Deer occurred in 94% (82% volume) of winter scats, 76% (55% volume) of spring scats, 64% (45% volume) of summer scats and 28% (18% volume) of fall scats. Fruits, insects, and grass occurred in 10-30% of scats overall, but accounted for a small percent volume. Fruits were important summer/fall foods. Food habits of coyotes have changed from previous studies conducted in the same area in 1956-61 and 1975-80. Deer comprised a smaller portion of the diet during 1956-61 and a greater portion of the diet from 1975-80 than during this study. Coyotes preyed on deer primarily during the winter and spring. Fawns represented approximately 33% of the deer consumed during June. Coyotes killed deer in significantly (P<0.01) better physical condition, based on marrow fat, than those in the general deer population. Deer consumption rates by coyotes ranged from 0.59-0.95 kg deer/coyote/day during winter. Smaller coyote groups had higher per capita consumption rates. A model of coyote-deer interactions suggests that coyotes had little impact on the deer herd during 1956-61 when deer numbers were high and coyote predation rates were low. During 1975-80, when coyote predation was high and deer numbers had declined to low levels, coyote predation appears to have been capable of depressing deer population levels. However, from 1986-89 coyote predation apparently had limited impact on deer numbers. Coyotes occupy large home ranges in the central Adirondacks averaging 112.8 km2 . However, home ranges based on biological seasons averaged only 38 km2. Coyotes were active during all times of the day, averaging 24.4 km of movement per day. Coyotes used habitats in different proportions than available, selecting small pole stage conifer stands and avoiding large pole stage conifer stands. Seasonal habitat use reflected availability of habitats based on seasonal home ranges. Coyotes preferred open habitats such as beaver meadows and frozen lakes during winter based on snow tracking. They also preferred habitats with dense under and mid-stories. Habitat preference appears to reflect food acquisition and reproductive requirements. Coyotes in the central Adirondacks tend to form packs. They travel and hunt primarily in packs (> 3) during winter and as singles during summer, although individual group members maintain a common home range. Pack members apparently assist with the rearing of offspring. Coyotes exhibit large home range overlap but coyote groups exhibit minimal territory overlap seasonally. core areas also had minimal overlap. This social system appears to be related to the acquisition of food. Pack structure allows profitable exploitation of large prey enhancing pup production and survival by benefitting gestating females and food provisioning of pups.