Behavioral responses of coyotes to wolf recolonization in northwestern Montana

Recent recolonization of northwestern Montana by wolves (Canis lupus) provided an opportunity to examine behavioral responses of coyotes (Canis latrans) to a reestablished wolf population. Coyote and wolf annual home ranges overlapped extensively; however, seasonal overlap was not as pronounced. Most seasonal coyote home ranges were located between wolf packs or along the edge of wolf territories, but wolves and coyotes did not use the seasonal overlap area differently than expected. Most of the coyotes maintained random separation distances from wolves, though three coyotes were closer to wolves than expected. No difference in summer activity was found between the canids; however, temporal partitioning occurred during the winter, which may have allowed the increase in home-range overlap observed during the winter. Additionally, temporal partitioning occurred through differential arrangement of canid home ranges (i.e., wolf home ranges were smaller in summer) and reduced overlap of seasonal home ranges. Coyotes were usually singletons and some pairs, and before wolf colonization they fed on lagomorphs and plants. After wolf colonization, coyotes tended to be in pairs and small packs and they relied on ungulates. Although we documented wolves killing coyotes, coyotes are coexisting with wolves through spatial and temporal separation and behavioral changes.

Author W. M. Arjo and D. H. Pletscher
Year 1999
Secondary title Canadian Journal of Zoology - Revue Canadienne de
Volume 77
Number 12
Pages 1919-1927