U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Northwest Science, Vol. 86, No. 4, 2012


Exploitative competition through resource utilization may occur between coyotes (Canis latrans) and other carnivores. In the southern periphery of Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) range, there is concern that increased snowmobile activity may enable coyotes to increase their movements into deep snow areas during the winter months, thereby potentially creating heightened resource competition with lynx, mainly for the lynx’s main prey, snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus). We studied the seasonal variation of coyote diets and the dietary overlap between coyotes and lynx in a 512-km2 high-elevation study area in northwestern Wyoming. Dietary shifts by coyotes were documented during the winter, spring, summer, and fall from August 2006 through June 2008. Although lynx are known to primarily prey on snowshoe hares, lynx scats were also collected to assess their diet for comparative purposes. A total of 470 coyote scats and 24 lynx scats were collected, dried and analyzed. Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) was the predominant prey item for coyotes by percent occurrence (20.1%) for all 3 years combined, followed by elk (Cervus elaphus, 12.5%), montane vole (Microtus montanus, 12.0%), and snowshoe hare (8.0%). Snowshoe hares were the dominant prey item for lynx during the winter, accounting for 85.2% of all prey occurrences. Coyote use of snowshoe hares peaked in the fall (24.1% of all occurrences). We found little dietary overlap between coyotes and lynx during the winter months when lynx mainly fed on snowshoe hares and coyotes fed mostly on ungulates.