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How Toms React to Preadtion Risk from Coyotes

This Turkey Tuesday is about how toms react to predation risk from coyotes. These first 2 pictures show toms appearing to show no concern whatsoever to coyotes being close to them, although the feral pigs in the second picture clearly know things are getting ugly! Recent work conducted by Patrick Wightman shows pretty clearly that how toms perceive predation risk from coyotes may be much different than we’d assume. This animation shows movements of a GPS-marked tom and coyote, and this is a typical snapshot into how toms respond to close interactions with coyotes. As you see, the 2 interact with each other and the coyote moves on with its business, and the tom resumes behaving as he was prior to the interaction. Overall, we’ve found that gobbling activity doesn’t seem to vary relative to increased predation risk from coyotes. Also, we’ve noted that toms will maintain overlapping home ranges with coyotes, but they don’t overlap areas of concentrated use – core use areas if you will. In other words, toms end up spending most of their time in areas with decreased probability of coyote use, but we suspect this is mostly because toms and coyotes are using different vegetative types during spring, with coyotes using brushier, denser areas and toms using more open ones. The collective result is that toms and coyotes don’t spend much time in the same areas, which results in direct contacts being rare. However, when those contacts do occur, toms don’t appear to change their behavior compared to times just before the contacts. The take home is, toms don’t appear to perceive coyotes as an important form of predation risk. Future work looking at similar data from hens should be interesting, and I suspect will show different patterns.

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