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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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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Just as snowmobile trails often allow Wolves to penetrate deeper into forest interiors and thus ante up their predatory influence on Caribou, so do these same trails heighten the impact that Coyotes can have on Canada Lynx(and I am guessing Bobcats as well).......Where snow accumulations were significant, these trails provide travel routes (that in the absence of them) would have not allowed Coyotes access ................."While direct impacts of snowmobiles on lynx were not documented in a recent Study of this subject by biologist Eric Gese(USDA Utah State Unitveristy), the potential impacts of a main competitor, the coyote, is evaluated intesively.................. "Due to their use of snowmobile trails, coyotes have the potential to access areas of habitat that might normally be too energetically difficult to access in deep snow"............... "Lynx, with their superior body mass to footload, can access habitats containing deep snow that coyotes might typically avoid"............. "In addition, expansion of current winter recreation use areas may create persistent travel corridors that could be utilized by coyotes"................ "Since coyote use of snowmobile trails was related to how much was available, coyote movements could possibly be altered by limiting snow compaction".-----Eric Gese......................A number of researchers are suggesting minimizing or rotating compaction areas (thereby limiting potential impacts by coyotes) as a strategy for management agencies concerned with protecting Lynx......................Read biologist Eric Gese' full peer reviewed paper on this subject by clicking on the link just above the Abstract commentary below

The Influence of Snowmobile Trails on Coyote Movements during Winter in High-Elevation Landscapes

  • Eric M. Gese mail,
    Affiliation: United States Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research Center, Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, United States of America
  • Jennifer L. B. Dowd,
    Affiliation: Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, United States of America
  • Lise M. Aubry
    Affiliation: Department of Wildland Resources, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, United States of America
  • Published: December 18, 2013
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082862


Competition between sympatric carnivores has long been of interest to ecologists. Increased understanding of these interactions can be useful for conservation planning. Increased snowmobile traffic on public lands and in habitats used by Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) remains controversial due to the concern of coyote (Canis latrans) use of snowmobile trails and potential competition with lynx. 

coyote on logging road

Determining the variables influencing coyote use of snowmobile trails has been a priority for managers attempting to conserve lynx and their critical habitat. During 2 winters in northwest Wyoming, we backtracked coyotes for 265 km to determine how varying snow characteristics influenced coyote movements; 278 km of random backtracking was conducted simultaneously for comparison. 

Despite deep snow (>1 m deep), radio-collared coyotes persisted at high elevations (>2,500 m) year-round. All coyotes used snowmobile trails for some portion of their travel. Coyotes used snowmobile trails for 35% of their travel distance (random: 13%) for a mean distance of 149 m (random: 59 m). Coyote use of snowmobile trails increased as snow depth and penetrability off trails increased. Essentially, snow characteristics were most influential on how much time coyotes spent on snowmobile trails. 

In the early months of winter, snow depth was low, yet the snow column remained dry and the coyotes traveled off trails. As winter progressed and snow depth increased and snow penetrability increased, coyotes spent more travel distance on snowmobile trails. As spring approached, the snow depth remained high but penetrability decreased, hence coyotes traveled less on snowmobile trails because the snow column off trail was more supportive. Additionally, coyotes traveled closer to snowmobile trails than randomly expected and selected shallower snow when traveling off trails.
 Coyotes also preferred using snowmobile trails to access ungulate kills. Snow compaction from winter recreation influenced coyote movements within an area containing lynx and designated lynx habitat.


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