Eastern Coyote Research

Osterville, MA, United States

Eastern Coyote Research

Osterville, MA, United States
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Way J.G.,Eastern Coyote Research | Rutledge L.,Trent University | Wheeldon T.,Trent University | White B.N.,Trent University
Northeastern Naturalist | Year: 2010

This study examined the genetic nature and relatedness of Canis latrans (Coyotes) in eastern Massachusetts (i.e., eastern Coyotes). We characterized 67 animals at the mitochondrial DNA control region, and 55 of those at 8 microsatellite loci. Structure analysis and factorial correspondence analysis of the microsatellite genotypes indicated that the eastern Coyotes in Massachusetts clustered with other northeastern Canis populations and away from western Coyotes, C. lycaon (Eastern Wolves), and C. lupus (Gray Wolves). They contained mitochondrial haplotypes from both western Coyotes and Eastern Wolves, consistent with their hybrid origin from these two species. There was no evidence of either C. lupus familiaris (Domestic Dog) or Gray Wolf mitochondrial DNA in the animals. These results indicate that the eastern Coyote should more appropriately be termed "Coywolf" to reflect their hybrid (C. latrans x lycaon) origin. Genetic data were also used to assess parental and kinship relationships, and confirmed that family units typically contain an unrelated breeding pair and their offspring. Lastly, a synthesis of knowledge of the eastern Coyote as well as implications for Wolf recovery in the northeast US is provided.

Way J.G.,Eastern Coyote Research | Way J.G.,Clark University | White B.N.,Trent University
Northeastern Naturalist | Year: 2013

Lyme disease is the most prevalent vector-borne disease in north temperate areas worldwide, with the majority of cases reported in the northeastern United States. The transmission cycle involves ticks, deer, small mammalian hosts such as mice, and numerous other species. Levi et al. (2012) suggested that Canis latrans (Coyote) abundance and Vulpes vulpes (Red Fox) scarcity are strong predictors of Lyme disease cases in eastern North America, with Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer) abundance being less important. This suggestion was based on correlations of disease dynamics with human harvests of canids, as it has been suggested that Red Foxes occur at a lower abundance because of Coyote predation. Because Red Foxes are more effective predators of small mammals, the authors of that work contend that the lower Red Fox abundance results in an increase in the incidence of Lyme disease. This paper re-examines the evidence used by Levi at al. (2012) to reach their conclusions. We address the following points: 1) Levi et al. did not provide data on rodent populations or Lyme disease incidence; 2) Coyotes eat rodents, so a Coyoteinduced reduction of Red Fox populations might not result in increased rodent populations; 3) Coyote harvests are poor indicators of Coyote abundance; 4) both Red Fox numbers and rodent numbers fluctuate dramatically due to factors such as disease and weather; 5) some of the data used by Levi et al. (2012) were from regions with western Coyotes, while other data were from areas with hybrid eastern Coyotes, thus confounding the situation; and 6) Levi et al. did not consider important alternative hypotheses, such as habitat fragmentation and climate change. Additionally, the historical dynamics of the Lyme disease system are unknown given that Canis lupus lycaon (= Canis lycaon) (Eastern Wolf) and Urocyon cinereoargenteus (Gray Foxes) originally lived m most of the northeast, while Red Foxes and Coyotes were historically absent from most of the area. We suggest proceeding with caution before concluding that the presence of Coyotes (or the reduction of Red Foxes) is the primary cause of increased incidence of Lyme disease cases m the eastern United States.

Way J.G.,Eastern Coyote Research | Bruskotter J.T.,Ohio State University
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2012

Mech (2010) provided a review of options involving regulated, public hunting of gray wolves (Canis lupus) when states regain control of wolf management. We agree with his general conclusion that the use of lethal management should focus more in areas of conflict and less in wilderness areas, especially near protected places like national parks. Here, we expand on Mech's work and provide additional considerations that could be incorporated into state management plans to make them more acceptable to an increasingly diverse group of interested stakeholders, including: 1) the use of human dimensions research to understand the conditions under which stakeholders find lethal management acceptable, and to evaluate the acceptability of agency efforts to increase tolerance for wolves; 2) employing preventative measures to protect livestock and pets, especially in cases where wolf packs are highly visible to the public; and 3) selective use of sport hunting in areas where wolf impacts are deemed unacceptable. Copyright © 2011 The Wildlife Society.

Previous research on my Cape Cod, Massachusetts study site documented the killing of a breeding male Coywolf (Canis latrans × lycaon; also called Eastern Coyote) and a subsequent increase in local pack density one year later. This study documents double-litters produced in two packs following the death or disappearance of the original breeding male.

The eastern Coyote or Coywolf (Canis latrans × C. lycaon) inhabiting northeastern North america resulted from hybridization between the expanding population of the western Coyote (Canis latrans) and the remnant population of Eastern Wolf (C. lycaon) and possibly domestic dogs (C. lupus familiaris) in the early 20th century. This study compares the body mass of eastern (i.e., northeastern) Coyotes, western Coyotes, and Eastern Wolves and synthesizes the recent literature to gain better insight into the taxonomic relations and differences of closely-related Canis species. Northeastern Coyotes (males = 16.5 kg; females = 14.7 kg) were statistically (P < 0.0001) intermediate in mass between western Coyotes (males = 12.2 kg; females = 10.7 kg) and Eastern Wolves (males = 28.2 kg, females = 23.7 kg), consistent with their hybrid origin, but were numerically closer to western Coyotes. Large Cohen's d (3.00-8.56),2 (0.915-0.929), and Cohen's f (3.28-3.62) values indicated large effect sizes from the body mass comparisons. Eastern Wolves were 61-71% heavier than the same sex in the northeastern Coyotes, which in turn were ca. 35-37% heavier than the same sex in the western Coyotes. alternatively, western Coyotes were 73-74% of the size of the same sex in the northeastern Coyotes, which in turn were 59-62% of the size of the same sex in the Eastern Wolves. I also attempted to relate mitochondrial DNa (mtDNa) haplotypes to body mass. Six of 17 (35.3%) adult female northeastern Coyotes captured in Massachusetts weighed ≥18 kg, heavier than any other described Coyote from outside northeastern North america. Mitochondrial DNa haplotypes associated with these heavy female northeastern canids were C9 = 4, C19 = 1, and C48 = 1. Body mass (kg) and mtDNa haplotype data of 53 northeastern Coyotes (males = 28, females = 25) showed no difference between haplotype and body mass for males (P < 0.852) or females (P < 0.128), suggesting that there is not a particular haplotype (e.g., C1) that is associated with the heavier animals. I propose that the most appropriate name for this hybrid animal is Coywolf (Canis latrans × C. lycaon), rather than a type of Coyote. Coywolves are distinct, being larger than any other population of Coyotes but smaller than Eastern Wolves. I propose that the 5 distinct types of Canis be recognized as: western Coyote, Coywolf (northeastern Coyote), Eastern Wolf (including Red Wolf C. rufus), Gray × Eastern Wolf hybrids ('Great Lakes' Wolves; C. lupus × C. lycaon or C. lycaon × C. lupus), and Gray Wolf (C. lupus). The implications for wolf recovery in the northeastern United States is discussed.

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