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Age Distribution of Urban Coyotes in Southern California: A Comparison of Tooth Wear and Cementum Annuli Methods

  • Author(s): McKenzie, Ariana
  • Quinn, Niamh M.
  • Stapp, Paul
  • et al.
Abstract

Although coyotes are a natural component of southern California ecosystems, they are sometimes considered a nuisance because their opportunistic habits and tolerance for urban and suburban environments bring them into conflict with people. Recent attacks on people and pets have increasingly led to lethal control of nuisance animals, yet it is unclear whether the demographic distribution of nuisance individuals is representative of the coyote population as a whole. We used two methods, cementum annuli analysis and tooth wear, to estimate the age of coyotes collected as nuisance or road-killed animals in southern California. Age estimates based on tooth wear, a non-lethal method, were broadly similar to those from cementum annuli analysis, although tooth-wear estimates were highly variable and tended to overestimate age, especially for younger individuals. The demographic structure of coyotes collected as nuisance animals was biased toward young adults and males, which suggests that this demographic class may be more likely to killed by control efforts, possibly because their behavior creates greater opportunities for conflict with people.

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