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Kittiwake Economic Development Corporation

The eKubator Project

Enter The Coyote
May 22, 2001
{Author: Reg Wright}

  The coyote's reputation proceeds it. This reputation, as you might know, is not good. The coyote is generally regarded as a threat to children and livestock, and its baying howl has been known to shiver the spine of campers. And now the coyote is asserting its presence on the Island of Newfoundland.

  The eastern coyote likely arrived in insular Newfoundland by crossing pack ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The first coyote sighting occurred on March 29, 1985 when three animals, reported as wolves, were seen coming ashore from pack ice off Marches Point on the Port au Port Peninsula on the Provinces' west coast. Additional sightings on pack ice were made in 1989 and 2000. Sighting and trap records from 1986 to 2000 indicate that coyotes are now widely dispersed across the island. The coyote will almost certainly thrive and become a major presence in Newfoundland, with an abundant food supply and lack of competitors.

  The entry of this predator may have implications both for native species and for the sheep farming industry. There may be increased predation rates on woodland caribou, arctic hare, the endangered Newfoundland population of the American marten as well as interspecific competition with lynx and red fox. There has been one documented observation of a coyote hunting arctic hare and several unconfirmed reports of predation on caribou. The addition of another significant predator on snowshoe hare may dampen population fluctuations and cause reductions in the harvest potential of this important small game animal.

  The increasing coyote numbers may also result in reductions in red fox densities as has been reported elsewhere, however, it remains unclear how these two species will interact in this Province. Management of red fox and lynx may have to be reevaluated when coyotes become well established in Newfoundland. Although the sheep industry in Newfoundland is small, there are implications for individual farmers. There have been two coyote related sheep predation incidents reported, with several sheep killed in each instance.