Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Carcass-cam 2: new customer at the roadkill cafe

Coyote scavenging a roadkill button buck.

A coyote found the button buck carcass last night. Our camera trap collected hundreds of images. The coyote ate several pounds of meat based on images and the large opening at the rear of the button buck.

Scavenging is an important ecological function and essential survival foraging involving many species,  especially during late winter and early spring. Today, our Ohio landscape is frozen under an icy crust sealing several inches of snow accumulation. Rodents, a staple for coyotes and many other predators, are somewhat protected within their runway tunnels under the snow. Successful scavenging is essential now.

Native west of the Mississippi River; today, coyotes are common nocturnal omnivores throughout central Ohio, the Midwest, and beyond. They spread eastward, slowly, following deforestation. They are surprisingly common in suburban and urban settings where pet food, small pets (particularly outdoor cats), vulnerable old dogs up to the size of a golden retriever, poorly contained garbage, wild mice, Canada Geese, cottontail rabbits, and roadkill anything sustain them year round. But they are mostly nocturnal, secretive, and elusive, noticed by few people.

When Fluffy the cat goes missing for more than a day, it probably won't be coming home again. Those fliers with cute cat pictures stapled to utility poles and taped to store fronts are pictures of cats eaten by coyotes. Keep cats indoors--coyotes are out there!

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