Coyote Influence in Ecosystem

In Air for Mice

As the Keystone carnivore here in Maine, coyote can have a positive effect within the ecosystem, balancing populations and preventing the spread of disease, and by doing so supporting biodiversity on our Maine landscape.

Whenever wildlife populations are higher than nature meant for them to be, disease becomes a serious issue. So carnivores, like coyote, keep wildlife numbers in balance and help prevent such diseases as wasting disease in deer and rabies in raccoons and foxes.

But we humans can also be affected in a positive way by coyote’s presence. For example, the bacterium for Lyme disease is carried by wild rodents that infect the ticks that often feed on our deer population.  By keeping the deer population in balance, the tick population does not explode. That will limit the number of ticks that can be infected with the Lyme disease bacterium when they bite a wild rodent. In addition, wild rodents are one of coyote’s primary foods, thus keeping their populations in check.

Coyote in Grass by Ellison photography

In addition, the presence of coyotes also controls the behavior of mesocarnivores. So when coyotes are not present or are removed through human exploitation the following events are just a few examples of what scientists have observed:

  • Nest success of ducks decreases due to the increased presence of red fox, who are known to be heavy predators of duck eggs.
  • Decrease in the diversity of songbirds due to predation by raccoons and large numbers of domestic cats.
  • Declines in partridge and grouse again due to increased presence of red fox.