Date of this Version
J Ethol DOI 10.1007/s10164-012-0330-4
Sterilization of wild canids is being used experimentally in many management applications. Few studies have clearly demonstrated vasectomized and tuballigated canids will retain pair-bonding and territorial behaviors. We tested whether territory fidelity, space use, and survival rates of surgically sterilized coyote (Canis latrans) packs were different from sham-operated coyote packs. We captured and radio-collared 30 coyotes in December 2006. Sixteen of these animals were sterilized via vasectomy or tubal ligation, and 14 were given shamsurgeries (i.e., remained intact). We monitored these animals using telemetry and visual observations through 2 breeding seasons and 1 pup-rearing season from December 2006 to March 2008. Mean pack size was not significantly different between sterile and intact coyote packs. We found no difference in home range size between sterile and intact coyotes. We found differences in home range and core area overlap between sterile and intact coyote packs in some seasons; however, this difference may have existed prior to sterilization. Home range fidelity was not significantly different between sterile and intact coyotes. All coyotes had higher residency rates during the breeding season, with no differences between sterile and intact coyotes. Survival rates were correlated with biological season, but there were no differences in survival rates between sterile and intact coyotes. We concluded that surgical sterilization of coyotes did not affect territory fidelity, survival rates, or home range maintenance.