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An Observational Study of Scent-Marking in Coyotes, Canis latrans
  • Michael C. Wells, University of Colorado
  • Marc Bekoff, University of Colorado
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Urination and defaecation patterns of free-ranging coyotes (Canis latrans) were studied in the Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming, for two years. The vast majority of urinations by adult males and females were involved in 'marking,' and differentiating between 'marking' and 'elimination' may not be necessary. Our results may be summarized as follows: 1) Raised-leg urinations (RLU) performed by males were most frequently used in marking. (2) Females marked throughout the year using the squat (SQU) posture. (3) Snow tracking and reading snow sign resulted in a gross underestimate of the relative frequency of SQU's and a large overestimate in the relative frequency of defaecations (DEF) when compared to results obtained by direct observation. (4) There was sexual dimorphism for the contexts in which marking occurred. Overall, marking by males was associated with courtship and mating, with travelling, and with aggression. Marking by females was associated with the acquisition and possession of food and with the denning season. (5) Marking rates per coyote increased in groups larger than two animals. (6) RLU marking rates were greatest in areas of high intrusion when compared to denning areas and areas in which non-group me hers infrequently trespassed. SQU marking rates were highest in denning areas and high-intrusion areas. We suggest that scent odours are important in orienting individuals in space but do not represent in and of themselves barriers to movement.

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Citation Information
Wells, M. C., & Bekoff, M. (1981). An observational study of scent-marking in coyotes, Canis latrans. Animal Behaviour, 29(2), 332-350.