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 Coyote Information  

Captured coyote
Captured Coyote

Coyotes

Coyotes are one of the major wildlife success stories of the Western Hemisphere.  Once  unknown east of the Mississippi River, they can now be found throughout the continental United States. From Alaska to Panama, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, coyotes  have proven their adaptability to a wide range of habitats.  In some areas, this was achieved after humans exterminated wolves, which were lethal predators of their smaller  cousins. 

Coyotes are doglike in appearance.  They stand about 2 feet tall at the shoulder, weigh between 20 and 50 pounds and generally average 3.5 to 4.5 feet long, including a  brushy tail.  Northern and eastern coyotes are often much larger than their desert counterparts.  These wild canids have sharp pointed noses, erect pointed ears, and hold  their tail downward when they are running. 

The fur on their upper parts is usually a dull yellow-brown with grizzled black markings down the back.  The belly area may be pale  cream colored.  Vocalizations include howls, yips, and barks and have been found to comprise a communication “language”. 

Coyotes have well-developed senses of hearing  and smelling.  They are intelligent, omnivorous, monogamous, and prolific.  Breeding season runs from January to March and pups are born following a two-month gestation  period.  A birthing den could be a burrow, rock cave, hollow log, or shelter under a manmade structure.  Litter sizes usually include 5 to 10 young, although numbers twice  as high have been recorded. 

More pups are born when coyote densities are low and food supplies are high.  Both adults care for and train their offspring. A coyote’s diet includes  everything from insects, reptiles, birds, and mammals to fruits, nuts, berries, and carrion.  They hunt alone or in family groups and can sprint 40 miles an hour to catch a jackrabbit  or use teamwork to capture a deer.  Hunting and foraging territories are quite large, often ten square miles in size, and are protected from competitors as much as possible.  This is  one reason why fox populations tend to decline when coyotes are present in high numbers. 

Like all predators, coyotes are opportunistic hunters and scavengers.   Proximity to humans in urban, suburban or rural settings offers a whole new menu for them.  Garbage, dog food left outside, vegetables from gardens, poultry, and smaller  livestock like calves, sheep, and goats have all been consumed with great regularity. 

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