A survey on the status of the coyote (Canis Latrans) in Georgia

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Virginia Tech

Coyotes Canis latrans are known to have caused damage to the agriculture industry of Georgia since 1958. Since that year that threat has grown as the population increased. To determine the magnitude of the coyote problem a study was begun in 1975. The objectives of this study was to determine the coyotes population and distribution, physical characteristics, and damage activity in Georgia.

In 1975-1976, coyote surveys were run throughout Georgia using tape recorded howls to establish the distribution and relative density of this species. Minimum densities based on howling responses ranged from one coyote/60.9 km2 in the Upper Coastal Plain to one coyote/333.3 km2 in the Lower Coastal Plain. No coyotes were located from the Piedmont northward. Weights, standard body and skull measurements were obtained from 27 coyotes in an effort to determine the form of Georgia coyotes. Males were significantly larger and heavier than females. The coyotes collected in Georgia were consistently lighter and smaller than coyotes reported from eastern Texas. Attempts to classify the skulls to the subspecies level was not feasible because of lack of comparative information. The analysis of skulls did show that specimens from Georgia seem more properly referable to coyotes, although some dental characteristics indicated a relationship to dogs.

One hundred and forty-four County Extension Offices replied to a coyote damage questionnaire. Only 16 reported coyote damage in their counties. Analysis of the replies indicated that coyote damage was increasing.

In general, damage was concentrated in south central Georgia and most was judged light to insignificant. Pigs and cattle were the livestock most frequently damaged and watermelons were the most damaged crop. The economic value of coyote damage is estimated to be $50,000 annually.