As urban environments continue to encroach on natural habitats, cases of human-wildlife conflict tend to increase. While some animals avoid human contact at all costs, other species thrive in urban habitats. Coyotes, in particular, have become frequent visitors near human settlements, and are generally seen as an important source of human-wildlife conflict. These urban predators have adapted to consume a range of human food sources, such as litter, ornamental fruit, and household pets. As a result, city dwellers often worry about the safety of their pets, especially outdoor cats. Is it possible to reduce the conflict between these two species in an urban environment?
Several studies across the United States from Seattle to New York have shown that cats make up less than 5% of a wolf’s diet. Why, then, do studies of the Los Angeles diet reveal that cats make up roughly 20% of coyotes’ diets? Residents in Culver City, a suburb of Los Angeles, reported that 72 cats were killed in 18 months, allegedly victims of coyote attacks. A recent study by Rebecca Davenport and colleagues from the Center for Urban Resistance (CURes) at Loyola Marymount University may provide the first glimpse into this anomaly. The study, “Spatiotemporal relationships between coyotes and free-range domestic cats as indicators of conflict in Culver City, California,” is published in the journal. berg This month.
Davenport and his team installed 20 motion-sensitive cameras in Culver City parks, neighborhoods and green spaces to monitor the presence of cats and wolves for six months. Similar to other studies, researchers have found that coyotes prefer green spaces over urban and/or residential areas. However, the cats did not display a preference for a particular type of habitat. This finding is quite surprising, as studies in Chicago and North Carolina have found that cats prefer urban areas and directly avoid areas where coyotes are common. Instead, the cats in Culver City were in the same parts of the green as the wolves. In addition, cats in this Los Angeles suburb showed more nocturnal behavior than normal urban cats. These unexpected findings may explain why such frequent cat deaths occur in Culver City.
Residents have a common perception that coyotes deliberately hunt pets within their neighbourhoods. Conversely, researchers point out, coyotes tend to stick to natural areas around town. Urban green spaces contain plenty of alternative prey sources for wolves, such as cotton rabbits. Therefore, wolves are unlikely to choose to leave their favorite habitat in the greenery in order to search for domestic pets. Alternatively, the high cat mortality rates in Culver City may be the result of cats roaming freely through urban green spaces and showing increased nocturnal activity compared to cats in other cities.
Given that wolves are seen as a source of urban conflict, countless management efforts focus on controlling or eliminating “problem” wolves. However, the team recognizes that coyotes are home to these environments, while domestic cats have been widely introduced into urban and rural areas across the United States. Unfortunately, cats have been found to destroy populations of native species, such as songbirds and small mammals. Given these environmental consequences, the researchers recommend that management efforts consider restrictions or control measures for outdoor cats, rather than focusing solely on the role of coyotes in human-wildlife conflict in urban areas.
New York City coyotes don’t need to rely on human food
Rebecca N Davenport, Melinda Weaver, Katherine C.B. Weiss, Eric J. Strauss, Spatiotemporal relationships between coyotes and free-range domestic cats as indicators of conflict in Culver City, California, berg (2022). DOI: 10.7717 / peerj.14169
the quote: Can cats and wolves coexist? (2022, October 14) Retrieved October 14, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-cats-coyotes-co-exist.html
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