Wed Feb 6: Garrett Crow of NPR station WUTC interviews coyote researchers Mitchell, Shivik, and Hooper, about solving coyote problems in Tennessee. Click link at left to listen.
Tracking: Astro - the world's first texting coyote!
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Tracking: Sandy - caught on Decastro Farm, Portsmouth
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THREE CHEERS! Newport Joins Middletown and Portsmouth with Ordinance to Prohibit Coyote Feeding
Newport May 22, 2013, joined the other two towns on Aquidneck Island in passing a wildlife feeding ordinance. Middletown was the first to institute a no-nonsense "No Coyote-Feeding Ordinance" with fines in September 2011. Portsmouth followed suit with a sister ordinance in February 2013. The ordinances are designed to reduce numbers of, and fearless behavior in, coyotes. Since the problem coyotes that are created by feeding do not recognize town boundaries the towns's ordinances are mutually supporting and should decrease coyote traffic in neighborhoods and interactions between people, their pets, and coyotes.
Since NBCS promulgated the Coyote Best Management Practices (CBMPs) in 2006, Three of four towns in the sudy area, Portsmouth, Middletown and Jamestown councils have resoved to use them. While Newport has acted on one of the guidelines it is yet to adopt the CBMPs.
The CBMPs are a set of science-based strategies for dealing with coyote problems – a toolbox for towns to proactively or, if necessary, reactively deal with coyote issues.The No-Feeding Ordinance, one of the CBMP recommendations, is designed to address the problem of bold urban or suburban coyotes.
NBCS became part of the solution when we discovered that the key to coyote population control is through control of their food resources. This is accomplished by eliminating food attractants provided by humans. Attractants such as pet foods, garbage, or small pets left outdoors, tempt coyotes to forage in neighborhoods, which can lead to dangerous coyote behavior.
Once coyotes associate people with food they can lose their natural fear and become habituated. This can lead to potentially dangerous human-coyote or coyote-pet interactions. In contrast, coyotes not subsidized by people tend to pass through neighborhoods but remain shy of people and generally forage elsewhere.
If habituated coyotes are a problem, more than likely, there is a food source nearby. Using GPS collars to visit coyote hotspots, NBCS has found that attractants can be anything from farm waste or compost piles to feral cat colonies. Putting out food at dusk for birds or pets is a magnet for the "night shift" - coyotes passing through will quickly catch on. If you are seeing coyote droppings in your neighborhood someone is probably feeding coyotes.
Once food attractants are identified, it will be a matter of working with people and changing their habits. For persistant coyote feeders who endanger their communities, the towns have thier ordinance to fall back on.
NBCS believes that managing "the coyote problem" on Aquidneck Island is within reach. If Newport joins the other towns by adopting and following the CBMPs along with the No-Feeding Ordinance, and the Navy (whose lands in each town are under federal jurisdiction) comes on board, Aquidneck Island has the potential be a national model for sustainable coyote management.
|Click for story|
|Example study coyotes|
|Pilot - older transient female|
|Java - beta (subordinate) male resident|
|Bonnie - alpha female resident|
|Clyde - alpha male resident|
|Milo - transient male disperser - left Aquidneck Island for Massachusetts|
|Pilot with ATT-Telenav collar prototype|
|NBCS study coyotes 2005-2011|
|all other study coyotes|
|Color coded territories of 10 coyote packs on Conanicut and Aquidneck Islands|
Background on The Narragansett Bay Coyote Study
Since 2004 The Narragansett Bay Coyote Study (NBCS) has been developing science-based coexistence and management strategies for our newest top predator. Coyotes, originally a prairie species, have successfully colonized all parts of the continental and nearshore US in the past 100 years. They reached the islands of Narragansett Bay in the mid-1990s. Since then coyotes have become increasingly abundant and problematic in some island communities.
In our history of cohabitation with coyotes people have consistently tried to eliminate them by hunting, trapping, and poisoning. Lethal removal works for individual problem animals but does not work as a population control strategy. Why? Coyotes have intrinsic physiological and behavioral abilities to control their own numbers. Their reproductive rate is regulated by the amount of food comptetition with other coyotes. If numbers of coyotes are lethally removed those remaining will respond to the decrease in food competition by increasing reproduction. Coyote populations rapidly rebound. As long as coyotes are well fed their populations will grow.
It is also known that the opposite effect occurs if coyotes are stressed by food competition. If there are too many coyotes competing for the food available coyotes will drop their own numbers to the level sustainable by those resources.
Understanding this relationship, NBCS scientists decided to study the resource use of coyotes on two islands in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island. We used GPS tracking collars to find out where the coyotes were spending their time. We theorized that if we could identify important coyote food resources - and control them - the coyotes would bring their own numbers down. NBCS calls this "passive coyote management."
Since 2005 when we trapped and collared our first island coyotes we have continually found that the most important food resources to our study coyotes are provided by people. That means they are within our control. If follows that coyote populations can also be controlled. If we remove anthopogenic resource (human subsidies), coyotes will lower their population to the level sustainable by natural resources. When coyotes are sustained only by natural prey (mice, woodchucks, rabbits, geese, and deer) coyotes numbers will be lower and they will provide helpful pest control services.
Based our scientific data NBCS has generated a set of Best Management Practices for Coexistence with Coyotes (CBMPs)- basically a toolbox for safe, sustainable, community coyote management. We are working with the towns in our study area to adopt the CBMPs and be the first community in the nation to successfully and sustainably manage coyotes. We also believe other cities and towns should be able to use our results as a template if they are experiencing coyote problems. We have only just begun to implement the CBMPs on our islands. We hope in the near future to have all our towns implementing the CBMPs - only then will we see the full impacts they make on coyote numbers and behavioral problems. You can follow our progress on this website.