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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, October 2, 2014

More on Eastern Coyotes with commentary from Marine Corps wildlife biologist John Deluca of Camp Lejeune of North Carolina with additional insights from our friend, biologist Roland Kays of the the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.........Canid Soup "pot of vegetables" in the southeast ever changing with admixes of western coyotes, remnant eastern wolves(red wolves), domestic dogs and Eastern coyotes all lathering up the pot and like in the northeast, creating the most fast moving evolutionary mammalian story witnessed by both expert and layman alike.......Nature "adapting and overcoming" in all her glory!

Coyote population growth increases in Eastern NC


Hunters and other outdoors enthusiasts often ask
 about coyotes aboard 
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. I recently 
chatted with Roland Kays, 
an expert on eastern coyotes, who serves the 
biodiversity director at the 
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences,
 to find out more about this 
interesting mammal.

Eastern Coyote

Coyotes are common on Camp Lejeune and
 elsewhere across the eastern 
United States, even though they are not native
 to this part of the country. 
Only in the 1980s did coyotes begin to invade 
North Carolina. Several 
factors allowed coyotes to spread from west to east.

A major factor behind the successful expansion 
of coyotes corresponds
to the ecological vacuum left behind after people
 eradicated wolves
across the country. Wolves were extirpated from
 nearly all of the
United States by the early 20th century. Nature
 abhors a vacuum:
All of the rabbits, deer, and other prey resources
 that wolves once
hunted were available for coyotes to exploit. 
Coyotes took
advantage of this new bounty of food, and 
populations expanded.

"Hybrid vigor" is another factor that promoted
 coyote invasion
into the eastern United States. Coyotes occurred
at a very low
density when they first invaded the eastern
 United States. They
"made do" and bred with feral dogs and wolves,
animals that
also occurred in low numbers. Interbreeding
among these canids
created a hybrid that is well-adapted to the
 fragmented landscape
of the eastern United States. Mammalogists
 commonly refer to this
new animal as the eastern coyote, although
others may know them
as "coydogs" or "coywolves." Approximately
 10-20 percent of the
eastern coyote’s genes derive from dogs and
wolves. These genes
manifest in fascinating ways. Dog genes cause
 many eastern coyotes
to have black, red, or blonde fur, although many
retain the mottled
brownish grey coat of their western ancestors.
 Wolf genes result in
much bigger coyotes, with bushier tails, larger
 body sizes and weights,
and massive skulls.

Eastern Coyote

Although it is not likely as significant as hybrid
 vigor or the absence
of wolves, massive deforestation of the United
States also contributed
to the eastward spread of coyotes. In the West,
coyotes inhabit deserts
and grasslands. Most of the eastern United States
 was covered in trees
prior to European colonization. As open fields
replaced forests, coyotes
took advantage of the newly created habitat.
That said, the eastern
coyotes now thrive in all habitats, including
heavily-forested landscapes.
Hunters often lament the existence of coyotes.
 Although we can effectively
control one or a few problem animals (e.g.,
 those raiding a chicken coop),
 science has repeatedly demonstrated that
 efforts at controlling coyote
populations are futile. Many peer-reviewed
 articles exist to demonstrate
that population-control efforts cause female
coyotes to breed at younger
ages and have larger litter sizes.

Attempts at population-level control of coyotes
might actually increase
coyote populations. Coyotes are highly territorial
against intruders, resulting
 in a set density of coyotes across any given
landscape. Research on a
 similarly territorial species, the mountain lion,
 has shown that as you break
down territories across a landscape, younger,
more risk-tolerant animals
thrive as they vie for dominance. This results
 in a net increase in the
population. Attempts at population control may
 also boost eastern coyote

Some hunting pressure may have benefits, even
if it doesn’t reduce the
overall population of coyotes. Hunting introduces
 a fear of humans to
coyotes. Fear of humans keeps coyotes away from
 people, which in turn
reduces the probability of human-coyote conflicts.
 Hunters and trappers
may harvest coyotes year-round. Hunters may use
electronic calls to lure
coyotes, but calling for any other species is
unauthorized. The species is
a generalist in the broadest sense. The species
inhabits all ecosystems on
installation, so there is no one best place to
search for coyotes.

Coyote ecology is indeed complicated. Whether
 you like eastern coyotes 
or not, they are here to stay, and I don’t think 
anyone would disagree they 
are an interesting part of our environment.

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