for National Geographic News
Part of the Digital Places Special News Series
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Wild coyote packs in Rhode Island have expanded their territory to the Web.
Thanks to an online tracking system, Web users can follow Jepsy, Seabee, White-Tip, and their kin as the animals roam the islands of Narragansett Bay (map of Rhode Island).
The Narragansett Bay Coyote Study is using the technology to determine how many coyotes call Aquidneck Island and Jamestown home, and whether the local coyote populations are growing.
(Related news: "Coyotes Trade U.S. Western Plains for East's Urban Jungle" [June 8, 2006].)
"We get a really complete picture of where they go each day, where they sleep, how they may come out into open areas at night," said Numi Mitchell, director of the coyote study.
The scientists also hope to learn more about the behaviors of the adaptable animals and the resources they use to survive.
The project has already uncovered an unexpected trend that has put both coyotes and people's pets at risk: homeowners feeding the wild canines, enticing the animals to expect easy meals if they venture into human territory.
The ideal result of the program is a management plan that would help humans and coyotes coexist while keeping conflict to a minimum.
Thirteen coyotes from the islands' ten different packs were fitted with state-of-the-art collars that use high-frequency radio signals and global positioning systems (GPS).
The collars register each coyote's exact location every hour, seven days a week.
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