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TWS Annual Conference Travel Grant Recipient: Katey Huggler

I had the opportunity to attend The Wildlife Society Annual Conference of 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. At the conference there were endless opportunities to attend talks and poster sessions, expand on professional development, and network with experts in diverse fields across the country. The sessions of contributed papers ranged from herpetology to hunting and conservation, and were jam-packed with interesting findings. With all the great sessions offered, it was difficult to choose which ones I wanted to attend! Nevertheless, I settled on attending the “Coyotes” session for a number of reasons.

The focus of my master’s work is to evaluate movement and space use of coyotes relative to where female mule deer reside on the landscape—in particular, during parturition of deer. Therefore, it seemed like a natural choice to sit in on the “Coyotes” session. The content of the session ranged from the effects of urbanization on resource use by coyotes to competitive interactions between wolves and coyotes. The first talk of the session relayed that the diets of urban suburban coyotes differed dramatically—coyotes in urban environments consumed mostly anthropogenic food, whereas diets of suburban coyotes were much more variable. The speaker of the second talk presented a correlation between genetic markers and boldness and aggression in coyotes. The session switched gears during the third talk and introduced the concept of territorial inheritance in an urban setting. The authors found evidence of coyotes settling into territories within natal territories—promoting higher densities of coyotes. Interference competition between wolves and coyotes was the subject of the fourth talk of the session. The authors found that coyotes were more likely to exploit areas with increased prey densities that were not used by wolves—suggesting coyotes were avoiding interactions with wolves. Finally, the authors of the last talk investigated landscape-scale behavior of coyotes, and found coyotes exhibited strong crepuscular behavior, however, these behavioral patterns differed among social classes.

The session was full of information that has already contributed to management and conservation of coyotes. What I found most interesting about this session, however, was that territoriality of coyotes is highly variable, and in many cases offspring may be capable of displacing parents from territories. Knowing information as to how coyotes establish territories could have important implications for how coyotes are managed, and may allow us to identify densities of coyotes that a landscape can support.

I’m glad that I was given the chance to travel to Cleveland and attend a number of interesting and informative sessions, especially “Coyotes”! Attending that session opened my eyes to aspects of coyote ecology that I hadn’t thought about before, and will help me to shape my master’s work as I continue forward!