Coyotes are becoming more aggressive because they are increasingly present in the urban context and because they are increasingly nourished by junk food: this is the conclusion reached by a new study conducted by researcher Scott Sugden.

The researcher analyzed the intestinal microbiome of 76 coyotes, endemic to both urban and suburban contexts, and compared them. He discovered that those who used to live more in urban environments showed a diet much lower in protein, those proteins in game that are part of the natural diet of coyotes living in wilder environments.

In the stomachs of the animals the researcher has found various traces that undoubtedly showed the origin of the food: hamburgers, leftovers from fast-food, burritos and more, food that is certainly not very nutritious for a coyote. He also analyzed the bacterial groups present in the intestines, finding in particular a smaller amount of Fusobacterium.

Already in the past some research has vaguely associated a smaller amount of this bacterium in the intestines to aggression in dogs and it is therefore natural to make the same connection also with regard to coyotes.

Moreover, in the coyote stomachs of “city” the researcher has found a greater prevalence, of about twice, of the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, a parasite that pet dogs could easily introduce into their bodies through coyote faeces.

Bill Stern

I am a professor of Biology at Marquette University and the founder of Elakhbary News. Throughout my life I have always had a strong interest in science and learning more about how the world works, and have always wanted to eventually become a science popularizer and educator myself. Elakhbary News, along with my responsibilities as a professor, is my attempt at improving science education and literacy.

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Bill Stern