Conservation and Trapping Science

Coyote: How residents of Denver Metro discern aggression and boldness in coyote
May 3, 2022 08:59 ET

Abstract
Human-wildlife interactions are a fundamental aspect of urbanization, providing humans with a variety of direct and indirect benefits. However, certain human-wildlife interactions can result in conflicts endangering humans, pets, and property. With an established coyote population in Broomfield, Colorado, human residents regularly confront human-coyote conflicts. In this research, I investigate how Broomfield residents perceive coyote behavior and test whether they can distinguish between benign behaviors such as boldness and problematic behaviors such as aggression. Coyotes in urban environments are bolder and thus more likely to be exploratory and engage in escorting behaviors which can easily be confounded with aggression to an untrained eye. This is impactful since aggressive coyotes require wildlife managers to execute lethal management control to avoid future human-coyote conflicts. I use value orientation theory to identify participants with mutualistic values (wildlife as an essential element of the community with similar rights as humans) and domination values (utilitarian perspective on wildlife; wildlife is managed for human use). The variation in association with mutualistic wildlife values coincided with the gradient of knowledge regarding coyote behaviors. Participants that had the largest depth of knowledge on coyote behaviors (i.e., understood bold behaviors in coyotes, identified escorting behavior) had the highest association with mutualistic wildlife values and the lowest with domination wildlife values out of the entire group of participants. Conversely, the participants that confused aggression with boldness had relatively low mutualistic wildlife values. Combining social and biological science can yield results that provide a holistic depiction of human-wildlife conflicts and provide wildlife managers with a range of possible solutions.

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