Date of Award:

1983

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Chair:

Frederick F. Knowlton

Abstract

This study was conducted to examine coyote behavioral responses to novel stimuli in familiar and unfamiliar environments and the implications of this behavior with regard to specific coyote management and research techniques. A series of pen studies with captive coyotes was undertaken at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Predator Ecology and Behavior Project research site, Logan, Utah, to observe the range and type of behaviors coyotes showed towards small novel objects and standard scent stations in familiar and unfamiliar 1-ha enclosures. The initial response to these novel stimuli in familiar environments was one of neophobia and caution, whereas in the unfamiliar environment these same stimuli were readily approached and investigated. Field studies were undertaken at the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory and Freer, Texas, to examine coyote visitation to scent stations inside, peripheral to, and outside their defined home ranges. Radio-collared coyotes were monitored to determine home range use and movement patterns, with relocations plotted on computer graphic maps and gridded base maps. Modified scent-station survey lines were run and visitations by marked coyotes plotted with respect to home range zone. Marked coyotes visited a greater percentage of scent stations peripheral to and outside their home ranges than inside. The socio-spatial distribution of coyotes, home range size, and percentage of road comprising home range zones influenced differential scent-station visitation rates. The importance of understanding the influences of animal behavior on wildlife management and research techniques is discussed.