A new study shows that the coyote population has exponentially expanded from North America's west coast and into Mexico and Central America.
The New Study
ZooKeys recently published a study done by two scientists at the North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Both James W. Hody and Roland Kays investigated numerous factors on several reasons why the coyote population expanded. The duo looked at coyote sightings documented in two databases, VertNet and the Quaternary Faunal Mapping Project.
Through these two databases, the duo was able to find specimen records of several different types of coyotes including coydogs and coywolves. Hody and Kays also researched zooarchaeological findings of coyote remains in Mexico and Central America that dated between 300 to 10,000 years before the present day. Also, they used fossil records, state wildlife agency reports, and scientific books for this research project.
By combining the data, Hody and Kays were able to draft two unique maps. The first map focused on the coyote population that ranged from 10,000 years BP to the late 1800s. The second map highlighted the coyotes' expansion throughout the 20th Century in 10-year increments.
The scientists found that coyotes have historically occupied a larger area of North America that suggested in their research. Before Hody and Kays created their maps, other cartographers and researchers found that ancient coyotes were located in grasslands and deserts. However, the duo's maps suggest that the geographic area that the coyotes occupied was established for hundreds and, possibly, thousands of years.
Hody and Kays suggest that the coyote population started to expand across North America around 1920. They believed that the factors that lead to the expansion were human agriculture, forest fragmentation, and hybridization between wolves and dogs. The duo noted that coyotes were also spotted in Central America and added that they were approaching the Darien Gap, which separates North and South America.
"The expansion of coyotes across the American continent offers an incredible experiment for assessing ecological questions about their role of predators, and evolutionary questions related to their hybridization with dogs and wolves," said Hays to Earth.com.
In March, a coyote was killed after going on a biting spree in New York City suburbs. The Health Department stated that the animal tested positive for rabies. However, the Yonkers Police Department added that the deceased coyote was traveling with a partner. They were unable to find the second coyote and advised New York City residents to keep clear of wooded areas and to remain indoors.
Last August, another coyote attacked a 64-year-old woman when she walked in a New York park. The animal left her with severe bite marks on her arms, legs, and face. She was sent to an Albany hospital and was treated for her injuries. Eventually, the coyote was found, killed, and tested positive for rabies.
A South Carolina spine surgeon was heading into work when a coyote followed him into his office. The doctor shook his keys to scare the animal before he ran out of the building. The coyote followed him outside for around 10 feet before a squirrel distracted it and he eventually ran off. The doctor reported the incident to authorities to capture it.