Semester

Spring

Date of Graduation

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Type

MS

College

Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design

Department

Wildlife and Fisheries Resources

Committtee Chair

John W. Edwards.

Abstract

Coyotes were not present in the mid-Atlantic region until the 1950s and little is known regarding their ecology in this region. My objective was to examine the diets of coyotes in West Virginia and to compare diets among regions and seasons as well as between age and sex. I also analyzed the occurrence of livestock in coyote diets and used logistic regression and Akaike's Information Criterion to analyze potential factors influencing livestock consumption by coyotes. In cooperation with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, and hunters and trappers, I collected coyote scat and stomachs throughout West Virginia during November 2009--June 2011. I found white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) to be the most frequently occurring item in samples at 59.5%, followed by plant material (39.7%), small mammals (19.3%), fruits and seeds (16.1%), and squirrels (Sciurus spp., Tamiasciurus hudsonicus ) and chipmunks (Tamias striatus; 11.4%). Deer also had the highest mean percent volume (44.9%), followed by small mammals (11.8%), squirrels and chipmunks (8.2%), fruits and seeds (7.1%), and plant material (7.1%). I found occurrence of anthropogenic items in diets was lower than most natural items. I found percent occurrence of common items to vary among seasons and regions. For instance, deer occurred most frequently during January-- April while fruits and seeds occurred most frequently during September--December. Regionally, the Southern Region had the lowest occurrence of deer in scat and stomach samples and the highest occurrence of fruit and seeds. Low occurrence of deer in the Southern Region coincided with lower deer density in that region. I found juvenile coyotes had deer in their stomachs more frequently and fruit and seeds less frequently than adults (P = 0.009). Livestock occurred more commonly in male coyote stomachs than females (P = 0.039). I found livestock in 6.3% of coyote diets, including both scat and stomach samples. In stomach samples, which were obtained primarily from USDA APHIS Wildlife Services Specialists and fur trappers, livestock occurred in 17.4% of samples, compared to 1.9% in scat samples. I noted livestock to occur more frequently in coyote diets during January--April and found the Eastern Panhandle had higher occurrence of livestock and the Southern Region to have lower occurrence of livestock in coyote diets than other regions. Greater livestock occurrence in coyote diets during the January--April coincided with peak lambing season. Regional differences in livestock occurrence were possibly due to a combination of differences in livestock production and unequal sampling.

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