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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources wildlife Biologists(and our friends) Ashley Mclaren and Brent Patterson have been involved in a multi-year study evaluating the EFFECTS OF HARVEST PRESSURE ON EASTERN COYOTE POPULATION DEMOGRAPHY in Prince Edward County, Ontario(Canada).................Ashley and I have been communicating and she has been gracious enough to answer some of my questions about their findings to date on how Coyotes in this region can withstand high levels of human persecution, impacts of Coyote depredation on sheep and the control options that might foster coexistence with ranchers and farmers.............Ashley will keep us further informed as this study continues----Her insightful answers to my questions as you scroll through the Post

Canid and Ungulate Ecology Lab
Effects of Harvest Pressure on Eastern Coyote (Canis latrans) Population Demography

Coyotes range across the majority of North America and are considered the archetypal generalist, able to adapt and thrive in a variety of environments. Coyotes exhibit much variation in diet, habitat use, activity patterns, and demography, making them an interesting animal to study, but often a difficult one to manage. The continued persecution of coyotes remains generally ineffective in controlling their numbers. Given the perceived increase in coyote numbers and conflicts with humans, we are undertaking this study to learn more about coyote life history in southern Ontario and better inform management of these animals.

· understand how coyotes are able to withstand such high levels of persecution without any visible decline in numbers
· quantify the spatial and temporal aspects of coyote depredation on livestock in agricultural areas of southern Ontario
· based on the above, assess efficiency of common control options employed against coyotes in response to depredation concerns
Study Area
· Prince Edward County (PEC), located in southeastern Ontario on a large irregular headland on the northeastern shore of Lake Ontario. The area is mostly agricultural and supports a large livestock industry—factors that are favourable to coyotes. With reports of high coyote numbers, high coyote harvest, and increasing cases of livestock depredation, PEC is an ideal area to conduct this study.

Project Updates

—JANUARY 14, 2013—
             Our third and final year of live-trapping and collaring coyotes is now complete. There were 47 coyotes collared in our final field season. In total, 147 coyotes were collared for the project. Although the majority of field work is now complete, this winter will we conduct track-count surveys when snow conditions are adequate. 

—NOVEMBER 30, 2011—
             We live-trapped and radio-collared 61 coyotes this field season. Since the project began in 2010, we have radio-collared 100 coyotes in total: 67 males + 33 females. Of these individuals, 39 were pups and 61 were yearlings/adults.

—DECEMBER 10, 2010—
             During the spring-fall 2010, 39 coyotes were live-trapped and fitted with radio-collars. In addition to sexing and estimating the age of each animal, blood and hair samples were taken, which will be used in disease screening and genetic analysis to determine pack composition and genetic-relatedness of the family groups. Using data from the GPS-collared coyotes, we have been able to assess movements of transient and territorial individuals and get preliminary estimates of the number of territories and average territory size of coyotes in Prince Edward County. Depredation cases were investigated throughout the field season to collect potential coyote DNA from puncture wounds on the livestock animal.

             This winter, we will continue to monitor survival of the collared coyotes, conduct track-based surveys, and initiate genetic analyses. Additional trapping will commence in Spring 2011.



Prince Edward County is located in 
  southern Ontario on a large irregular headland or littoral at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, just west of the head of the St. Lawrence River. This headland (officially named Prince Edward County in 1792[3]) is surrounded on the north and east by the Bay of Quinte. As the Murray Canal now connects the bay to Lake Ontario across the only land connection, the county is technically an island.


The county's relatively mild climate due to the influence of Lake Ontario has led to the establishment of about 50 vineyards and close to 30 wineries; as a result Prince Edward County is one of Ontario's newest designated viticultural areas.[4] The lake effect from Lake Ontario results in heavier snowfall than in neighbouring counties.

-From: McLaren, Ashley (MNR)
Sent: January 17, 2013 6:43 PM
To: Meril, Rick
Subject: Answers to your questions-
Hi Rick,

Below you will find the answers to your questions. Please note that our study took place in Prince Edward County in Ontario, not Prince Edward Island. Easy mix up of words, but very different areas of Canada ☺

1. Any speculation or hypothesis as yet as to what % of coyotes can be killed in a given region each year and still have the population not nosedive?..............many say up to 70% can be killed.

Our preliminary results suggest the coyote population of Prince Edward County experiences >50% mortality each year and the population has been relatively stable (or declining slightly, but certainly has not taken a “nose-dive”). Interestingly, mortality is highest among sub-adults and males.

2. Are there specific regions of Prince Edward County where more depredations take place?.................If they are agricultural regions, are there other agricultural regions in the county where sheep and livestock depredation is minimal?

Prince Edward County is mostly an agricultural landscape and supports a large livestock industry, factors that are favourable to coyotes, and therefore favourable to potential coyote-farmer conflicts. We haven’t examined whether there are specific regions of the county with more (or less) depredations, but generally, sheep producers have more reported predator losses than other livestock producers in Prince Edward County. The prevalence of depredation on any farm will be dependent on several factors as stated below.

3. If there are such low depredation farming sectors, what if anything are those farmers/herders doing differently than their counterparts in high depredation areas?

Several factors can contribute to the likelihood of depredations on livestock including individual farm practices (e.g. fencing, guard animals, proper handling of deadstock, vigilance over the herd, etc.), neighbouring farm practices, and the behaviour of the coyotes in the area (i.e. their desire to predate livestock), as well as their food supply. The interaction of these factors can make certain farms and areas more susceptible to depredations than others. Kaiti Nixon (MSc candidate in our lab) is looking into this issue as part of her thesis.

4. Besides livestock, what is the primary diet of coyotes in the county?............If deer, are they killed outright or are they scavenged?..................

We have assessed the diet of coyotes in Prince Edward County through scat and stomach content analyses. From this, we have determined that mice, voles, cottontail rabbits, and fruit (apples and berries) make up the majority of the diet of coyotes in the county. Coyotes in our study area seem to make very little use of deer as a food item throughout the year. Similarly, livestock does not appear to be a primary component of the diet.

5. Are farmers ranchers willing to concede any benefits to coyotes in the county?,,,,,,,,,,,,,,rodent control?

Produce farmers in particular have told us that they like having the coyotes around their property, because they keep the rodent population under control, which in turns provides benefits to their crops. Other farmers have also acknowledged the benefits of coyotes keeping rodent numbers to a minimum around their grain sheds.

6. Are any ranchers and farmers modifying their age old practices of letting livestock wander, not be watched, not moved into enclosures at days end?

Yes, we are aware of a few sheep producers in the area that bring their flocks up to the buildings at night, particularly during lambing season. They also state that they increase their vigilance of the flock during this time. Many producers also have livestock guarding animals or dogs as another measure of depredation control.

Hope this helps contribute to some useful discussion on your blog.


Ashley McLaren
Wildlife Research Biologist
Wildlife Research & Development Section
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Trent University, DNA Building
2140 East Bank Drive
Peterborough, ON, K9J 7B8
Phone: 705-755-2279
Fax: 705-755-1559

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