Looking for poop, or scat, is a common practice in the wildlife field. Scat tells us information about the health of the animal, what they are eating, and any parasitic activities going on. Dogs are very useful in finding scat and some are trained just for that purpose. Katie is trained to find coyote scat and urine sites in the areas that we are working. Finding different scat piles in the same area also tells me where the coyotes are traveling, hunting, and where their home range boundaries are. We also watch for the coyotes themselves. Katie alerts me when she sees a coyote by pointing.
Currently we are trying to find coyotes to observe family behaviors. In order to find the coyotes, we look for the scat and urine sites and any signs of coyote activity. This is mapped out and over time, I can see where the coyotes are living and estimate the areas that I am most likely to observe coyotes. Then it is sit and wait. Katie’s role in finding the coyotes is crucial. Without her canine abilities to find scent and scat, observing the coyotes would be extremely difficult.