Predator exclusion cages as visual attractants to coyotes
Coyote (Canis latrans) depredation of sea turtle nests is a growing concern along the US East Coast and while several designs for predator exclusion cages (PECs) have been used, no one PEC is 100% effective. We investigated if PECs are a visual stimulus that lure coyotes to sea turtle nests. We used camera traps to evaluate coyote behavior and visitation rates at two PEC designs on Bald Head Island, North Carolina, USA, between 11 and − 28 June 2021. We quantified coyote presence and absence, number of independent coyote observations (behavioral events), and aspects of observed coyote behaviors. Our results indicate that PECs do not act as a visual cue to coyotes which will provide flexibility for sea turtle management in choosing PEC designs. We discuss the prospect of using a variety of PEC designs as a deterrent to coyotes and the possible effects of human activity on coyote behavior near sea turtle nests.
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