Researchers and managers have hypothesized that coyote (Canis latrans) incursions into deep snow areas, facilitated by packed trails created by snowmobiles, may negatively impact lynx (Lynx canadensis) populations through interference or exploitation competition. In response to this hypothesis, federal agencies have limited snowmobile use within potential lynx habitat. We used aerial track counts and ground tracking to compare coyote activity in deep snow areas with and without snowmobile trails on the Uinta Mountain Range of northeastern Utah, USA, and 3 comparable sites in the Intermountain West to test this hypothesis. Our analysis suggests that snowmobile trail presence is a good predictor of coyote activity in deep snow areas. Over 90% of coyote tracks observed in our study areas associated with a snowmobile trail were within 350 m of the trail. Snow depth and prey density estimates influenced whether a coyote returned to a snowmobile trail. Our results suggest that restrictions placed on snowmobiles in lynx conservation areas by land management agencies because of the potential impacts of coyotes may be appropriate.
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