- By Matt Hayes
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This spring marked the start of capturing and collaring coyotes as an expansion of the DEER Project. Due to the high mortality rate of DEER Project fawns in 2016, predators, particularly coyotes, have come into a sharper focus as potentially playing an important role in the deer population south of Rock Springs. The addition of the coyote work will not only give us a better idea of how they are using the landscape, as well as the territories they occupy, but will also give us an idea of how they are responding to parturition timing of mule deer and elk and if they are altering their behavior during this crucial period.
In cooperation with our capture crew, we were able to capture and collar 4 coyotes opportunistically while catching deer and elk during the Spring 2017 captures. Crews did not actively seek out coyotes but worked any coyotes they happened to see while capturing our collared animals. Though we hope to have a sample between 20-30, this was a jump start on collaring efforts for coyotes. GPS data has begun to arrive on our collared coyotes and, so far, has shown us that coyotes have very large territories in this area, some exceeding 50 mi2. Additional data will help us understand the degree to which this predator could be structuring ungulate populations in the Greater Little Mountain Ecosystem.