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Mississippi State University

Coyote (Canis latrans)

Survival and Mortality


Results

We used 37 adult coyotes (20 males, 17 females) to estimate survival and cause-specific mortality. Of 16 known mortalities, 8 (50%) were from incidental harvest, 2 (13%) from disease (sarcoptic mange), and 6 (38%) were from unknown causes. All incidental harvest occurred during legal sport hunting seasons. Thirteen (35%) coyotes dispersed from the area and were censored on the last day of observation.

Annual survival did not differ between males and females (P = 0.333). We detected no differences in annual survival of coyotes across years (P = 0.624). Survival did not differ between breeding-denning (0.84) and fall-winter (0.89) (P = 0.408). However, survival differed (P = 0.007) between breeding-denning and whelping-pup rearing (0.84). Similarly, survival differed between whelping-pup rearing and fall-winter (P = 0.037).

Patterns of mortality did not differ across years (P = 0.99) or between sexes (P = 0.367), but did across seasons (P = 0.021). All incidences of sarcoptic mange occurred in 1995; both coyotes dying from sarcoptic mange were males during the breeding-denning season. All incidental harvest of coyotes by hunters was during fall-winter white-tailed deer or spring wild turkey hunting seasons. No coyotes were taken by trappers. Most (83%) unknown deaths occurred during the breeding-denning season. Probability of incidental harvest differed across seasons (P = 0.011) as no coyotes were harvested during whelping-pup rearing. Incidental harvest probability did not differ (P = 0.925) between fall-winter and breeding-denning, coinciding with deer and turkey hunting seasons, respectively.

Summary

Annual survival of adult coyotes on TWMA and GP was similar to rates reported in previous studies in the southeastern United States; however, degree of exploitation differed. Most previous research has reported higher exploitation rates with trapping, hunting, and road fatalities accounting for substantial coyote deaths and lower survival probabilities have been reported in more intensively exploited populations, particularly in more northern latitudes. However, similarities do exist in temporal patterns of mortality with peak exploitation occurring during fall-winter trapping and hunting seasons. Coyotes were taken incidentally by deer and turkey hunters. Deer hunters were often anxious to shoot coyotes, likely stemming from hunters' concerns over impacts of coyotes on deer populations. Coyotes often display greater movement and activity rates during fall-winter, coinciding with deer hunting seasons. This may increase susceptibility of coyotes to incidental harvest during deer hunting seasons.

Coyote populations on TWMA and GP are likely not impacted by incidental harvest levels observed in this study. Research throughout the species' geographic range have reported the ability of coyotes to withstand high exploitation. Given the reproductive potential of coyotes, they are likely able to withstand incidental harvest at levels higher than that in this study.