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Diet of Coyotes on the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge During the White-tailed Deer Pre-fawning and Fawning Seasons

Joseph W. Hinton1,*, Kaitlyn Rountree2, and Michael J. Chamberlain2

1College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI 49931. 2Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602. *Corresponding author.

Southeastern Naturalist,Volume 20, Issue 2 (2021): 245–258

Canis latrans (Coyote) is known to influence herbivore communities through predation. In particular, Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer) recruitment rates on the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Louisiana may be negatively influenced by Coyote predation on fawns during summer months. Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge is mostly bottomland forest surrounded by agricultural croplands and, although Coyote diets have been extensively studied, prey selection in bottomland forests is poorly understood. We collected scat samples within Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge to determine food habits of Coyotes. Coyotes used prey differently between pre-fawning and fawning seasons and exhibited inverse consumption of White-tailed Deer and small mammals by season. Consumption of White-tailed Deer increased ~27% from the pre-fawning to fawning seasons, whereas consumption of small mammals decreased ~21% . These findings are an important first step towards understanding prey selection by Coyotes in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley.

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