Since urban American wolf – Coyote Research began in the 1980s and 1990s, and there has been ongoing interest in the scientific community in the type of foods that urban coyotes eat, specifically whether they depend on human foods for sustenance. Now, by analyzing the DNA of urban wolves living in New York, a team of experts has discovered that they eat a variety of local prey species and supplement this diet only with human-sourced food.
Carol Henger, lead study author and postdoctoral fellow at Wildlife Conservation Society. “Knowing what coyotes eat can help inform management practices by city officials.”
Wolves are opportunistic carnivores, usually taking advantage of any available food. Although previous research in cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago has found that coyotes eat primarily “natural” foods such as rabbits or ferrets, city coyotes still tend to consume more food from more human sources. than its counterparts in the countryside.
To find out what New York coyotes eat, researchers analyzed DNA from coyote fecal samples collected in parks and other green spaces between 2010 and 2017. The analyzes revealed that urban coyotes consumed a variety of mammalian prey, including raccoons. Rabbits and deer. and voles. However, they also eat birds, insects, and plants, as well as foods from human sources such as beef, pork, or chicken.
“The unique thing about our study is that by sequencing the DNA of coyote feces, we were able to detect elements of the diet that might not be detected through visual analysis of stool samples, such as specific nutrients for humans,” Dr. Henger explained. There are no cows, chickens, or Wild banana trees in New York City parks, so if we get the DNA of something like this, we know that coyotes ate from a human source.
The scientists also compared the diet of New York City coyotes to that of coyotes living in non-urban areas of New York State, and found that raccoons and deer make up a greater proportion of the diet of non-urban coyotes than the diet of urban areas. relatives. Although the two groups of coyotes ate similar proportions of human food (about 60 percent of stool samples contained traces of at least one human food component), urban coyotes ate a variety of these products, including rice, goat meat, guinea fowl, or bananas. .
Dr. Henger reports that “the raccoon was the most widespread mammal ever detected in the New York City coyote’s diet.” “With no other natural predators to limit their numbers, coyotes provide an important ecological service. Raccoons can carry diseases such as rabies and carry dogs that can be transmitted to humans and pets. By racing over raccoons, coyotes help provide systems for the healthy environment.”
Our results show that coyotes do not depend on human food to survive in New York City. Instead, coyotes eat natural foodstuffs available in city parks. She concluded that this study highlights the importance of creating and maintaining green spaces where wildlife can thrive.
The study was published in the journal berg.
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