Because coyotes (Canis latrans) show an aversion to novel objects, we examined the effects of the presence and removal of repellent and attractive stimuli on coyote behavior. We found a greater proportion of captive coyotes investigated 10-cm-tall cones (0.95) compared to 90-cm-tall cones (0.68) and control sites (0.81), and spent longer periods (P < 0.001 in all instances) investigating small cones (𝑥̄ = 465 sec), compared to large cones (𝑥̄ = 212 sec) and control sites (𝑥̄ = 45 sec). However, investigation times at sites following removal of large cones were 1.6 and 2.3 times greater than investigation times at sites following removal of small cones and the control, respectively. Results from pen studies were supported by a field study. Wild coyotes in south Texas visited 43% of small cones but did not visit large cones. Following removal of cones, visits to small cone stations decreased to 29%, whereas coyotes visited 43% of large cone stations. Thus, we observed a direct relationship between aversion toward large novel objects and subsequent attraction to sites following their removal among both captive and wild coyotes. Based upon our results, we suggest that placing large novel objects over traps that are set and removing such objects after a few days, with the subsequent addition of an olfactory attractant, may increase exploratory behavior and capture of coyotes.
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Vol. 71 • No. 2