PWC Begins Study of Mesocarnivore Interactions at Deer Carcasses

(March 2022).  This year marks some major changes for Project Wild Coshocton.  This will be our fifth consecutive and final year of collecting data on bobcat occupancy across Coshocton and southern Holmes counties.  This is also the first year for two new facets of our research: (1) examining how various mesocarnivores (including bobcats, coyotes, red fox, raccoons, and opossums) interact and compete for food, and (2) attempting to improve bobcat habitat by building artificial den sites.  We have just begun the first of these projects, and the second will begin this summer.  I want to take a moment to introduce the first project, and to share with you some of the interesting videos we have collected so far!

During the winter, when energetic demands are high and food can be scarce, stumbling upon a deer carcass can be like winning the lottery for a hungry carnivore!  If two or more species happen upon such a valuable resource at the same time, what will happen?  For example, would a coyote be able to displace a bobcat feeding at a carcass, or vice versa?  Would the incident be marked by significant conflict, or would there be any tolerance between competitors?  To address questions like these, graduate student Xinzhu Zhang is placing trail cameras at deer carcasses (collected as road kill and with permission, moved to privately owned woodlands) to catch a glimpse into the behavior of these secretive animals.  Among the first animals to feed on the first deer carcass we set up was a red fox.  In the videos below, see how the fox initially seems confused by the deer carcass, but over time becomes more comfortable, urine-marking at the end of the carcass and eventually eating it.

Stay tuned for more videos and updates!