Date of this Version
Can. J. Zool. 95: 287–297 (2017) dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjz-2016-0029
Coyotes (Canis latrans Say, 1823) are highly successful in urbanized environments, but as they populate cities, conflict can occur and often manifests in the form of incidents with pets. To better understand whether coyotes view pets as prey or, alternatively, as competitors or a threat, we conducted a diet analysis of coyotes in the Denver metropolitan area (DMA) by analyzing scats. We also examined differences in diet between high- and low-density housing and among seasons. We found only small percentages of trash and domestic pets in the coyote diet. The presence of pets in the diet did not coincide with the increase of pet conflicts in the DMA in December and January, supporting the hypothesis that coyote conflict with pets is primarily driven by competition or a threat response. Coyotes relied mostly on native plant and animal species, and rodents and lagomorphs were the most prevalent diet items. Coyotes consumed rodents and non-native plants more often in high-density housing and deer, corn, and native plants more often in low-density housing. Coyotes also consumed more fruits and invertebrates during summer and autumn and more mammals and birds in winter and spring. As human–coyote conflicts increase in urban areas, understanding how coyotes and other urban-adapted carnivores use anthropogenic resources may provide insight that can be used to promote coexistence between humans and wildlife.