Here’s why there are so many coyotes and why they are spreading so fast





For eons, coyotes roamed what is now the western United States, with its open plains. Then came European settlers, who cut down forests for farms and ranches in a constant east-west march. Along the way, they killed large predators such as cougars and wolves to protect livestock and their own safety.

The predators they destroyed were deadly enemies of the coyote, keeping them under control, according to a new study in ZooKeys magazine. When the mountain lions and the wolf packs disappeared from the landscape, the coyotes took advantage, beginning a wide expansion towards the east at the end of the last century in deforested lands that continues today.

Coyotes were recently established in all states, several Canadian provinces and are moving rapidly south of Mexico to Central America, says the study published on Tuesday. They have even been detected by camera traps in Panama. They are in Rock Creek Park in Washington and Central Park in New York, and they are known to attack domestic pets and, very rarely, people. Its rapid expansion in North Carolina in the last decade is one of the main reasons why a program to rehabilitate critically endangered red wolves is about to fail.

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Coyotes are animals that federal wildlife managers and state gambling officials love to hate, gathering armies of hunters wielding pistols, poison and leg traps to kill them. But the current study adds to the evidence that people released coyotes with programs that annihilated their biggest and strongest competitors.

"The northern extension to Canada and the northeast moved faster than the southern one," said Roland Kays, an badociate professor of research at The State University of North Carolina and the Museum of Natural Sciences of North Carolina, both in Raleigh. , an author of the article. "It's down through Mexico, it's mostly open country."

Coyotes have existed forever. Today's species originated from ancestors who lived next to saber-toothed tigers, mastodons and fatal wolves.

Kays and James Hody, a graduate student from the State of North Carolina during the investigation, mapped the historical range of coyotes using archaeological and fossil records. They then charted the expansion of their range in North America from 1900 to 2016 using museum specimens, peer-reviewed reports, and game department records. During the course of the study, the authors reviewed more than 12,500 records covering 10,000 years.

For reasons that biologists do not fully understand, coyotes prefer open land over the forest. It could be that the larger predators that kill them by territory and competition for food could sneak up on them in the woods, Kay theorized. But now, the cameras trapped the coyotes in the forests where the predators have been eliminated, which opens the possibility that the coyotes continue moving to territories where they never were, as in South America.

Unlike mountain lions, wolves and bears, which were hunted to near extinction in state-sponsored predator control programs, coyotes do not easily give up, Kays said. "The coyotes are the last American survivor, they've suffered persecution all over the place, they're cunning enough, they eat what they can find: insects, small mammals, trash," he said.

Stanley Gehrt, a Ohio State University professor and wildlife ecologist who directs the Urban Coyote Research Project, which studies coyotes in the Chicagoland area, said coyotes "are extremely flexible and adaptable to different types of environments … they are generalists, so generalists tend to do pretty well in cities, but they also benefit once they move to cities.

"Their main source of mortality in rural areas now is eliminate, and that was the people. You may wonder: how can you eliminate it? That's because you have no hunting or cheating in the cities. Cities actually act as a kind of shelter for coyotes once they are established. "

Coyotes do not reproduce like rats, but could defend themselves in a contest, an animal that, when threatened, reacts somehow by making more coyotes, more and more sneaky, almost impossible to find even as their numbers grow.

The attitude of game officials in the 1930s, the researchers said, was to get rid of the wolves and then deal with the coyotes. "But you can" Get rid of the coyotes, "Kays said. "It does not work, the only thing that will reduce coyote numbers are wolves."

"In many ways, wolves are easier to handle than coyotes," he said. "They do not breed so fast. You have to control their behavior. A fearless coyote is a dangerous coyote because it attacks humans "

The first inclination, at least it used to be, [was] & # 39; We want to get rid of them, then, how can we get rid of them? & # 39; "Just to be clear, we are not in the business of protecting coyotes or defending them or anything, we provide the best science we can, what our science tells us is that you will not be very successful in trying to eliminate them. permanently. "The best approach is to let the public know that they must reduce the artificial supply of food for the coyotes," he said, and keep his pets inside.

Another problem caused by the killing of animals that contained and killed coyotes is that the largest gray wolf, without a mate, turned to another species, perhaps the first waves of coyotes to the east, and hybridized.That happened in the case of Red Wolves, which dominated the east coast, from Pennsylvania to Florida and Texas, until the c aza, left some laggards in Louisiana and Texas. (Fearing that the red wolves would disappear forever, federal wildlife officials removed the last to start a captive breeding program.) The first wave of coyotes, also without partners, turned to a smaller animal: the dogs. 19659002] "Wolves and coyotes do not breed, except when they are really very rare," said Kay, now scientists are looking for a t what will happen when a new wave of coyotes continues south, where little has been studied so far. "The mystery is Central America, nobody has tried them as dogs, but they look like dogs."


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