Research Publications

Featured Principal Investigator: Dr. Jim Armstrong

Dr. Jim Armstrong,a researcher for the Center for Environmental Studies at the Urban-Rural Interface and a professor and extension wildlife specialist, joined the Wildlife faculty at Auburn almost 22 years ago, working primarily in what at that time was called animal damage control. Since that time, much has changed in dealing with human-wildlife conflicts, including the name. The area of study is now called Wildlife Damage Management (WDM). The name change is indicative of changes that are taking place in this component of Wildlife Science: no longer is the focus on eradication of entire populations of problem species (as it was in the early 1900s), but rather, emphasis is placed on habitat modification. Lethal control of targeted, offending animals is applied only where necessary. WDM issues are changing from an emphasis on agriculture to an emphasis on wildlife damage problems at the rural-urban interface. One species where Armstrong has seen this transition in a rather dramatic mode is the coyote (Canis latrans). When he first came to Auburn in 1990, the majority of his extension activities dealt with concerns about the impact of coyotes on agricultural activities (e.g., watermelon damage, livestock predation). The legislature even had an ad hoc committee focused on the eradication of coyotes. Now, in 2012, the scene has changed to a suburban, even urban, landscape. These days, it is extremely rare for Armstrong to get a call related to coyotes and agriculture, but he gets several calls a week from people who are concerned about coyotes in their neighborhood (e.g., pet safety, child safety). It is this “coyote in-yer-face” situation that brought Armstrong into the Center forEnvironmental Studies at the Urban-Rural Interface. The financial and logistical support provided by CESURI allowed Armstrong and four of his graduate students to study the sociobiological aspects of coyote ecology, including: home range, habitat use, dispersal, and use of anthropogenic resources for food and shelter, as well as human awareness of presence of coyotes.