Conservation and Trapping News

...Mange epizootic in a desert coyote population
Feb 9, 2023 07:05 ET

Original Title: Anthropogenic subsidies influence resource use during a mange epizootic in a desert coyote population


Colonization of urban areas by synanthropic wildlife introduces novel and complex alterations to established ecological processes, including the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. Aggregation at urban resources can increase disease transfer, with wide-ranging species potentially infecting outlying populations. The garrison at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, California, USA, was recently colonized by mange-infected coyotes (Canis latrans) that also use the surrounding Mojave Desert. This situation provided an ideal opportunity to examine the effects of urban resources on disease dynamics. We evaluated seasonal space use and determined the influence of anthropogenic subsidies, water sources, and prey density on urban resource selection. We found no difference in home range size between healthy and infected individuals, but infected residents had considerably more spatial overlap with one another than healthy residents. All coyotes selected for anthropogenic subsidies during all seasons, while infected coyotes seasonally selected for urban water sources, and healthy coyotes seasonally selected for urban areas with greater densities of natural prey. These results suggest that while all coyotes were selecting for anthropogenic subsidies, infected resident coyotes demonstrated a greater tolerance for other conspecifics, which could be facilitating the horizontal transfer of sarcoptic mange to non-resident coyotes. Conversely, healthy coyotes also selected for natural prey and healthy residents exhibited a lack of spatial overlap with other coyotes suggesting they were not reliant on anthropogenic subsidies and were maintaining territories. Understanding the association between urban wildlife, zoonotic diseases, and urban resources can be critical in determining effective responses for mitigating future epizootics.

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