A herd of coyotes living in Canada in 2009 Cape Breton Highlands National Park has killed a 19-year-old hiker in an apparently unprovoked attack. he It was the first documented coyote-related kill in Canada and only the second in North America, following the death of an infant in California in 1981. After more than ten years, Now scientists believe that they understand exactly why the tragedy happened🇧🇷 They argue that because of limited resources, coyotes in the park began to hunt larger animals such as moose, making them more likely to go after humans. They are ruled out other possible causes, such as coyotes becoming more familiar with humans or their food over time.
The death of the singer-songwriter Taylor Mitchell In late October 2009, it shocked many, including coyote experts. Despite public opinion, coyotes are not known to exist aggressive towards people. ANDIn urban areas shared by the two species, the animals will often avoid human contact.
A group of scientists from Canada and the United States are investigating the possible causes of Mitchell’s death.🇧🇷 Their research included capturing nearly two dozen coyotes in the area between 2011 and 2013, which allowed the team to fit them with devices to track their movements. They also collected whisker samples from coyotes (including the animals involved in Mitchell’s death) and fur samples from potential predators in the area, as well as hair samples from a local barber shop. By studying the nitrogen and carbon content of these samplesthe team was able to predict the coyotes’ recent diet, including whether they ate food intended for humans.
Coyotes generally hunt or scavenge small prey, though Omnivores are animals that can eat anything if they have the opportunity. But the team found that Cape Breton coyotes eat mostly moose, with large animals making up half to two-thirds of their diet on average, followed by small mammals and deer. The same pattern applies to the coyotes responsible for Mitchell’s death. Unlike coyotes elsewhere, there was little seasonal variation in their diet they mainly hunted moose throughout the year.
The shift to large prey seen in this coyote population likely occurred only out of necessity, the authors argue, and this unique adaptation led them to attack Mitchell.
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“We’re describing these animals expanding their niche to basically rely on moose. And we’re also taking a step forward and saying it’s not just scavenging that they were doing, but they were actually killing moose when they could. It’s hard for them to do that, but because they had very little if anything else to eat, that was their prey,” said lead author Stan Gehrt, a wildlife ecologist at OSU, in a statement from the university. “And that leads to conflicts with people you don’t normally see.”
Gehrt and his team also collected evidence that diverged from other common theories for the attack. The coyotes in the park had a wide range, but they still tended to run away areas that overlap with human activity🇧🇷 During the periods of the year when people are most active during the day, they moved more often at night. And only a handful of coyotes had recently eaten human food (including one of the coyotes involved in the attack on humans)., further reducing the likelihood that these animals will spend a lot of time with us. Finally, hunting and trapping are not allowed in the park, meaning local coyotes may not be as fearful of humans as they are elsewhere.
“It’s a great area for coyotes to live in, and they never have a negative experience with a human — if they have any at all,” Gehrt said. “This also leads to the logical assumption that it is not difficult to test whether these animals are potential predators of humans.”
Overall, the findings has been published In the Journal of Applied Ecology last month, Taylor suggested that what happened to Mitchell was a tragic but “relatively rare” case. the authors say. The the conditions that led to its death are especially unlikely to occur where coyotes have plenty of food and natural prey to eat, including urban areas shared with humans. Meanwhile, people visiting the park or other areas with similar environmental conditions “should be made aware of the risks posed by coyotes and encouraged to take precautions,” such as bringing a partner and animal repellants such as bear spray, they wrote. Park managers in these areas also need to closely monitor coyote behavior and be prepared to take action sooner than ever, which could include culling aggressive coyotes.
Although it was reports After years of coyote attacks in the park, no other deaths appear to have occurred.
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