Over the last 30 years coyotes (Canis latrans) have expanded their range into peninsular Florida and over that time populations have increased. Coyotes are opportunistic apex predators and play an important role in wildlife populations, both positive and negative. Unfortunately, coyotes interfere and damage livestock production, most commonly through calf loss.
Using GPS collars on coyotes on private ranches we hope to help answering the following questions:
How often do coyote interact with cattle and cause calf loss?
How does coyote behavior change during calving season?
How do coyotes use rangeland habitat?
We collared 15 coyotes for a period of 6 months starting in November 2014 and recovered 11 of 15 collars. Ke Zhang's masters work has shown that the coyote extensively use many habitats across Florida ranches but are more often found using open pasture and rangeland, over heavily forested habitats, wet habitats, agriculture crops or human communities. There average home range size is about 4500acres, with core use areas being 500-1000acres. We also found that even though coyotes use improved pasture extensively there is no difference in the use of pastures if cattle are present or not, suggesting that coyotes are probably hunting for many other species in pasture and opportunistically attacking calves if they can.
We are also conducting a survey to measure losses of livestock as a direct consequence of coyote predation, and to aid in identifying number and extent of occurrence across Florida. This survey can be completed online at - https://surveymonkey.com/s/T3J9T77 or by picking up a survey in the main office. The survey will help answer these questions. Or you can take the quick questionnaire below.
What is the occurrence of calf loss across Florida?
This project was made possible by funding and collaboration with the USDA and the NWRC. Collaborators: Stewart Breck, Mike Avery, and Eric Tillman, USDA. Contributors: Cary Lightsey, Lightsey Cattle Company. Jim Strickland, Blackbeard's Ranch. The MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center. Ralph Pfister, Adams Ranch.