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The diet of coyotes and red foxes in Southern New York

Abstract

Coyotes (Canis latrans) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) are both generalist predators presently found in the Northeastern United States. This study aimed to identify major prey items of both species in suburban New York, investigate consumption of anthropogenic resources, and examine seasonal changes in diet. Scat samples were collected from 2017 to 2018 for coyotes, and from 2011 to 2012 for red fox. Hairs, feathers, bone fragments and other scat components were classified by comparison with reference collections. Logistic regression was used to determine whether season or location predicted the presence of various food items. The most common food items for coyotes were white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), found in 54.2% of samples, and cricetid rodents, found in 16.9% of samples. For red fox the most common food items were birds, found in 39% of samples, and cricetid rodents, found in 37.8% of samples. Anthropogenic waste appeared in 11.9% of coyote scat samples and made up 1.3% of the total weight of items recovered from samples. No anthropogenic items were found in red fox scat, nor were remains from threatened piping plovers (Charadrius melodus), known to breed in the study area. Seasonal changes in diet were not detected for either species. Overall our results show that coyotes and red fox in suburban areas of Southern New York are persisting primarily on natural prey items, and not being subsidized by anthropogenic food sources.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the New York State Museum, and particularly Joe Bopp, for allowing us access to their collections and assisting in skeletal identifications. We thank Susan Antenen, for allowing and facilitating fieldwork at Rockefeller State Park Preserve. We thank the staff of Fire Island National Seashore for allowing and facilitating fieldwork there. And we thank Kerri Ann Matthews for her contribution to bone and feather analysis of the fecal samples.

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Peterson, M., Baglieri, M., Mahon, K. et al. The diet of coyotes and red foxes in Southern New York. Urban Ecosyst 24, 1–10 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-020-01010-5

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Keywords

  • Carnivores
  • Diet
  • Coyote
  • Red fox