Microhabitat features and behavioural activities that promote conflict between humans and urban-dwelling coyotes (Canis latrans) in Edmonton, Alberta

Increasing global urbanization impacts biodiversity and ecosystems. Conflict-free co-occurrence of humans and wildlife in cities supports landscape level biodiversity and fulfilment of ecosystem services. Urban-dwelling coyotes (Canis latrans) are beneficial but are also linked to conflict. Edmonton’s large coyote population is increasingly described in conflict reports and represents a public health concern due to high prevalence of a zoonotic tapeworm, Echinococcus multilocularis. Coyote behaviour varies among activity contexts, and activity often determines conflict intensity. Because habitat features predict activity, they also affect conflict likelihood. For example, coyotes den where certain habitat requirements are met, and denning may be associated with defensive behaviour often perceived by humans as conflict. Understanding the link between habitat, behaviour and conflict will allow coyote management via city planning and land management.

This study’s goal is to determine landscape features and individual behaviours that lead to conflict with specificity to provide meaningful management recommendations. I will test non-mutually exclusive hypotheses that conflict is due to (1) access to anthropogenic food; (2) territoriality related to den sites; or; (3) simultaneous use of human neighbourhoods and green space.

I will use polygonal clustering to identify conflict hotspots using 7500 incident reports from the Edmonton Urban Coyote Project. I will generate buffers of 50, 100, 200, 400 and 800m from hotspot centres to represent conflict polygons for comparison with equally sized control polygons (where coyote use is reported, but conflict is not). I will use snow tracking to quantify relative frequency of five behaviours (denning, travelling, foraging, resting and marking), and I will assess habitat characteristics within 50 and 100m of polygons. I will use multiple logistic regression to compare habitat and behaviour between conflict and control polygons.

Locally, study results could inform landscape management to prevent conflict. Broadly, they may address biodiversity maintenance in an increasingly urbanized world.