Canis latrans (Coyote) populations are expanding throughout the eastern United States, making them the apex predator in many systems. Despite abundant research in the western United States, relatively little information exists on the space use or feeding patterns of Coyotes in the forested landscapes of the Appalachians. We used radio-telemetry and scat analysis to describe seasonal habitat use and feeding patterns of Coyotes in central West Virginia during 2006–2008. Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer) was the most common prey, occurring in 76% of scats collected in winter and 45% of scats collected in summer. Rodents were the most common prey item in summer, occurring in 48% of scats; other prey items occurred in <20% of scats. Coyotes selected for recently harvested forest stands while avoiding intact stands in both summer and winter. Despite exhibiting seasonal prey-switching behavior, Coyotes in this region do not alter habitat-use patterns with respect to season. Coyotes in our study seem to be opportunistic feeders that prefer areas with abundant cover. Their opportunistic feeding patterns may contribute to their rapid population expansion in this region.
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Vol. 19 • No. 3