Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1982

Abstract

Predatory behavior of coyotes (Canis latrans) was studied between 1977 and 1980 in the Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming. Major prey were voles (Microtus spp.), Uinta ground squirrels (Spermophilus armatus), pocket gophers (Thomomys talpoides), and grasshoppers (Locustidae). Coyotes typically rushed and ran down squirrels; when hunting mice, coyotes pounced and stabbed at them with their forepaws. Sequence structure was similar, though sequences directed to squirrels were significantly more variable. When juvenile coyotes hunted mice, sequences were similar to those performed by adults that hunted mice. Adults and juveniles were about equally successful. The size of prey last eaten influenced the interval until the next search was initiated; the larger the prey, the longer the interval. However, the time interval since the last capture and the outcome (capture or failure) of the next predatory attempt were not correlated. Durations of search, orient, and stalk were longer in short (< 10 em) grass than in tall grass; stalk, orient, and total durations also were more variable in short grass. Coyotes that hunted in short grass were more successful. Durations of all acts were shorter and coyotes were more successful in snow less than 10 cm deep than in deeper snow. Mean orient and total durations were more variable in deep snow. Height of ground-cover apparently affected coyote movements and the way in which cues from prey were perceived. Local wind conditions did not affect capture success. Coyotes were least successful when they hunted mice and more successful when they hunted squirrels. More time was spent searching and stalking squirrels.

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