(ORDO NEWS) — Coyotes are smart and cautious predators, but in October 2009, a flock of these animals attacked and mortally wounded a young woman walking through the national park.
This is the first such case recorded in North America. Now researchers have figured out why the coyotes did this.
On October 27, 2009, the world was shocked by the news that Canadian folk singer Taylor Mitchell died after being attacked by a pack of coyotes while walking in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
Then the animals attacked at least one more person in the park, but this time the victim managed to survive.
Various suggestions have been put forward as to what caused the usually cautious predators not only to go out to people, but also to consider them as potential prey.
However, the attacking coyotes were not defending the carcass or the pup den, were not rabid, and were unlikely to have been provoked by Taylor, an experienced traveler and conservationist. So what made them attack?
To answer this question, researchers at the Ohio State University (USA) captured and tagged 23 coyotes that were followed for several months.
Wool samples were taken from the animals and analyzed for the composition of stable isotopes of carbon and nitrogen, which made it possible to evaluate their diet.
It turned out that in the park the basis of the diet of coyotes is made up of elk (from half to two thirds of all animals caught), followed by hares, rodents and deer.
At the same time, unlike other studied coyotes in other areas of North America, the diet of predators from Cape Breton Highlands did not change during the year and consistently included a large number of large mammals.
Also, by tracking the movements of tagged animals, scientists noticed that coyotes were not afraid of people and actively used hiking trails and parking lots.
In other words, living in a national park, where hunting and trapping is prohibited, not only changed the diet of coyotes and deprived them of their fear of humans, but also forced predators to consider humans as potential prey.
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