Molecular identification of coyote feces in an urban environment

Paul R. Krausman, Martha I. Grinder, Philip S. Gipson, Gerald L. Zuercher, George C. Stewart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Coyotes (Canis latrans) are common in urban areas throughout North America. However, their urban diets have been studied rarely, possibly because tools to discriminate coyote feces (i.e., scats) from those of domestic dogs have not been available. We used molecular techniques to discriminate between scats from coyotes and domestic dogs. Our objective was to assess field accuracy in identifying coyote scat from dog scat. We collected and analyzed 34 scats (classified as coyote scat) via DNA analysis to determine whether they were deposited by coyotes. Ten scats classified in the field as coyote were from domestic dogs. We could not distinguish between coyote and dog scats in Tucson simply by observing scats. The role that available food items play in feeding strategies of coyotes needs to be examined thoroughly to fully understand their ecology and relationships to dogs and humans in urban areas. DNA analysis used for scat identification provides a mechanism to distinguish canid scats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-126
Number of pages5
JournalSouthwestern Naturalist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006


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