Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife and Fisheries Science


From September 1976 through January 1978, 343 coyotes (Canis latrans) carcasses were obtained for this study from South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks trappers and from fur buyers. Coyotes were necropsied, internal organs were examined for helminth parasites, and parasites located were collected and identified. Nematodes found included Toxascaris leonine in 215 of 290 (74%), Toxocara canis in 1 of 290, Physaloptera rara in 160 of 290 (55%), Physaloptera preputialis in 1 of 290, Pterygondermatites cahirensis in 28 of 290 (10%), Ancylostoma caninum in 38 of 290 (13%), Uncinaria stenocephala in 1 of 290, Dermatoxys veligera in 1 of 290, Filaroides osleri in 121 of 337 (36%), and Trichinella spiralis in 1 of 343. Cestodes located were Taenia pisiformis in 130 of 290 (45%), Taenia hydatigena in 5 of 290 (2%), Taenia macrocystis in 3 of 290 (1%), Taenia multiceps in 4 of 290 (1%), and Mescestoides sp. in 19 of 290 (7%). The acanthocephalan Oncicola canis occurred in 3 of 290 coyotes (1%). Neither Echinococcus granulosus nor Echinococcus multilocularis, 2 parasites with human health implicateds, were located in this study. The presence of Taenia multiceps may pose a health hazard to individuals working with wild canids in South Dakota as well as being of veterinary significance to the livestock industry. It is doubtful that coyotes play an important role as a sylvatic reservoir for trichinosis in South Dakota The coyote, Canis Latrans, is distributed in many widely varying habitats throughout North America. Because of dissimilarities in the availability of prey species and diversity in environmental conditions, the parasitic of pry species prevalent in coyotes vary in different geographical locations. While parasites of coyotes have been studied in Minnesota (Erickson 1944), Utah (Butler and Grundmann 1954), Kansas (Gier and Ameel 1959), Michigan (Dunatchik 1967), Texas (Smith 1967, Thornton et al. 1974), Alberta (Holmes and Podesta 1968), Iowa (Franson et al.1978) and other areas, no extensive investigation of parasites of coyotes from South Dakota has ever been reported. This study was designed to determine the species and relative prevalence of parasites of coyotes in South Dakota. Coyotes from 3 different areas of the state (Custer, Harind, and Gregory counties) were examined because acquisition and pathogenicity of parasites is affected by environmental conditions and geographic locations. It was hoped that this would minimize the possibility of overlooking a species which was endemic to one area of the state but not found elsewhere. No attempt was made to statistically compare results from the 3 areas because the method of obtaining coyotes for the study made identification of precise collection locations impossible. Nevertheless collection of material from different areas proved valuable because several of the species of parasites identified were found in only one county. Coyotes usually serve as the definitive host for parasitic helminthes. Identification of coyote parasite species provides information about the food habits of coyotes because of intermediate host specificity. Most helminthes parasitizing coyotes have little harmful effect. Controlling infections of those species which are pathogenic to coyotes in wild populations would be impossible or impractical. However, coyotes may be reservoir hosts for parasites of game animals and other wildlife as well as playing a role in transmission of pathogenic parasites to domestic animals and man. Therefore knowledge of coyote parasites may contribute to formation of management plans leading to control of parasitic diseases in other wildlife and domestic animals. Identification of coyote parasites which are transmissible to man may have public health significance. Three species of coyote parasites which can be a health hazard to individuals working with coyotes in laboratiories of fur businesses are Echinococcus granulosus, Echinococcus multicularis, and Taenia multiceps. If these parasites are endemic to an area, individuals working with coyotes need to be warned to take precautions to prevent infection. Coyotes may also serve as reservoirs for the sylvatic cycle of Trichinella spiralis; they may indirectly spread trichinosis to man by fecal transmission to livestock. The objectives of this study were to determine the species and relative prevalence of helminthes of coyotes in Harding, Custer, and Gregory counties in South Dakota and to identify species of coyote parasites endemic to South Dakota which could be of economic importance to the livestock industry or a health hazard to man or other wildlife species.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Coyote -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references (pages 34-44)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Only