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Overview

Brief Summary

Description

Coyotes are among the most adaptable mammals in North America. They have an enormous geographical distribution and can live in very diverse ecological settings, even successfully making their homes in suburbs, towns, and cities. They are omnivorous, eating plants, animals, and carrion. Socially, coyotes live in a variety of arrangements. Some live alone, others in mated pairs, and others in packs, which may consist of one mated pair, their new young, and offspring from the previous season that have not yet left their parents. Packs are an advantage when preying on larger mammals such as deer, or defending food resources, territory, and themselves.

Adaptation: The upper and lower cheek teeth of a Coyote, Canis latrans, are blade-like, with sharp shearing edges that cut food in scissors-like fashion. The foremost shearing teeth, known as carnassials, are clearly larger than the others.

Links:
Mammal Species of the World
Click here for The American Society of Mammalogists species account
  • Original description: Say, T., 1823.  in Account of an expedition from Pittsburgh to the Rocky Mountains : performed in the years 1819 and ?20, by order of the Hon. J.C. Calhoun, sec?y of war, under the command of Major Stephen H. Long : from the notes of Major Long, Mr. T. Say, and other gentlemen of the exploring party compiled by Edwin James, botanist and geologist for the expedition; in two vols., H.C. Carey and I. Lea, Philadelphia,1822-23. Vol 1, p 168.
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Distribution

Global Range: Originally ranged throughout western and central North America, perhaps with only widely scattered populations in the southeastern U.S. Range expanded into eastern U.S. with opening of forest and extermination of wolf. Range has also expanded north to northern Alaska and south to Costa Rica. Introduced in Florida and Georgia. (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 1993).

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Range Description

Coyotes were believed to have been restricted to the south-west and plains regions of the U.S. and Canada, and northern and central Mexico, prior to European settlement (Moore and Parker 1992). During the 19th century, coyotes are thought to have expanded north and west. With land conversion and removal of wolves after 1900, coyotes expanded into all of the U.S. and Mexico, southward into Central America, and northward into most of Canada and Alaska (Moore and Parker 1992).

Coyotes continue to expand their distribution and occupy most areas between 8°N (Panama) and 70°N (northern Alaska). They are found throughout the continental United States and Alaska, almost all of Canada (except the far north-eastern regions), south through Mexico and into Central America (Bekoff 1982; Reid 1997; Bekoff and Gese 2003).
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Geographic Range

Coyotes are native to the Nearctic region. They are found throughout North and Central America. They range from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States, and Canada. They occur as far north as Alaska and all but the northernmost portions of Canada.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Coyotes are found from Costa Rica to northern Alaska, and from coast to
coast in the United States and Canada. The highest densities occur in
the Great Plains states and in south-central United States. Coyotes are
absent from the barrens and Arctic islands of northern Canada, including
much of northern Quebec, northern Newfoundland, and Labrador. Coyotes
are uncommon where gray wolf populations are high in northeastern
Minnesota, northern Alaska, the Northwest Territories, Manitoba, and
Ontario. The distribution of coyotes in eastern North America has
expanded during this century. In some states such as Florida and
Georgia, coyotes have been introduced [4,12,43]. Today, all eastern
states and provinces have at least a small population of coyotes [64].
Distribution of the subspecies is listed below [61,66]:

Mexican coyote - Occurs in Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Pueblo, and
Veracrus, Mexico. Its range may extend into southern Nuevo Leon and
southern Tamaulipas, Mexico.

San Pedro Martir coyote - Occurs in northern Baja California and
southwestern California (mostly San Diego County).

southeastern coyote - Occurs in southeastern and extreme eastern Kansas,
Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Durango coyote - Occurs along the Pacific coast drainage of western
Mexico between about 22 degrees and 26 degrees north latitude, extreme
southern Sonora, extreme southwestern Chihuahua, western Durango,
western Zacatecas, and Sinaloa.

northern coyote - In Canada, northern coyotes occur in Yukon Territory,
the Northwest Territories, northern British Columbia, and northern
Alberta. In the United States, northern coyotes occur in most of Alaska
except the southeastern coastal section.

Tiburon Island coyote - Occurs on Tiburon Island off Baja California.

plains coyote - In Canada, plains coyotes occur in southeastern Alberta,
southern Saskatchewan, and the extreme southwestern corner of Manitoba.
In the United States, they occur in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east
of the Rocky Mountains, and the northeastern corner of New Mexico; North
Dakota except the northeastern quarter; northwestern Oklahoma, and the
northern Panhandle region of Texas.

mountain coyote - In Canada, mountain coyotes occur in southern British
Columbia and southeastern Alberta. In the United States, they occur in
Oregon and Washington east of the Cascade Range, northern California,
Idaho, western Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado (except the southeast
corner), northern and central Nevada, and northern and central Utah.

Mearns coyote - Occurs in southwestern Colorado, extreme southern Utah
and Nevada, southeastern California, northeastern Baja California,
Arizona, west of the Rio Grande in New Mexico, and Sonora and Chihuahua
in Mexico.

Lower Rio Grande coyote - Occurs in extreme southern Texas and northern
Tamaulipas, Mexico.

California valley coyote - Occurs in California west of the Sierra
Nevada, except in the northern part.

peninsula coyote - Occurs on the Baja California peninsula.

Texas plains coyote - Occurs in Texas, except for the northern panhandle
region, the eastern part, and the extreme southern tip. Texas plains
coyotes also occur in eastern New Mexico except for the northeastern
corner, and part of northeastern Mexico.

northeastern coyote - In Canada, northeastern coyotes occur in
north-central Saskatchewan, Manitoba (except the extreme southwestern
corner), southern Ontario, and extreme southern Quebec. In the United
States, northeastern coyotes occur along the eastern edge of North
Dakota and in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri (north of the Missouri River),
Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois (except the extreme southern portion), and
northern Indiana.

northwest coast coyote - Occurs west of the Cascade Range in Oregon and
Washington.

Colima coyote - Occurs along the southwestern Pacific slope of Jalisco,
Michoacan, and Guerrero, Mexico.
  • 4. Bekoff, Marc. 1977. Canis latrans. Mammalian Species. 79: 1-9. [24979]
  • 12. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]
  • 43. Martell, Arthur M.; Dickinson, Dawn M.; Casselman, Lisa M. 1984. Wildlife of the Mackenzie Delta region. Occasional Publ. No. 15. Edmonton, AB: The University of Alberta, Boreal Institute for Northern Studies. 214 p. [15014]
  • 61. Terres, J. K., ed. 1964. The world of the coyote. Philadelphia; New York: J. B. Lippincott Company. 150 p. [25129]
  • 66. Young, Stanley P.; Jackson, Hartley H. T. 1951. The clever coyote. Harrisburg, PA: The Stockpole Company. 405 p. [24973]
  • 64. Voigt, Dennis R.; Berg, William E. 1987. Coyote. In: Novak, M.; Baker, J. A.; Obbard, M. E.; Malloch, B., ed. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. [Place of publication unknown]: [Publisher unknown]. 344-357. [24980]

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

More info on this topic.

This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

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Occurrence in North America

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA
ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD
MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ
NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC
SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY
AB BC MB NB NF NT NS ON PE PQ
SK YT MEXICO

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Geographic Range

Coyotes are native to the Nearctic region. They are found throughout North and Central America. They range from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States, and Canada. They occur as far north as Alaska and all but the northernmost portions of Canada.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The fur color of coyotes ranges from grayish brown to yellowish gray; they also usually have a black stripe along their spine. Their bellies and throats are white and their feet, parts of their head, and front legs are reddish brown. Their tails have a black tip. Coyotes have large pointed ears that stand straight up and a long tail. They have large yellow eyes and relatively small feet.

Range mass: 7 to 21 kg.

Range length: 75 to 100 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

Average basal metabolic rate: 19.423 W.

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Physical Description

Coloration of coyotes varies from grayish brown to a yellowish gray on the upper parts. The throat and belly are whitish. The forelegs, sides of head, muzzle and feet are reddish brown. The back has fulvous colored underfur and long, black-tipped guard hairs that produce a black dorsal stripe and a dark cross on the shoulder area. The tail, which is half the body length, is bottle shaped with a black tip. There is also a scent gland located on the dorsal base of the tail. There is one moult per year, which starts in May with light loss of hair and ends in July after profuse shedding. Coyotes are significantly smaller than gray wolves and much larger than foxes. Coyotes are distinguished from domesticated dogs by their pointed, erect ears and drooping tail, which they hold below their back when running. The eyes have a yellow iris and round pupil. The nose is black and usually less than one inch in diameter. The ears are large in relation to the head and the muzzle is long and slender. The feet are relatively small for the size of the body. The pes has four digits and the manus has five with a small first digit. Coyotes run on their toes (digitigrade). The dental formula is 3/3 1/1 4/4 2/3. The molars are structured for crushing and the canines are rather long and slender.

Range mass: 7 to 21 kg.

Range length: 75 to 100 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger

Average basal metabolic rate: 19.423 W.

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Size

Length: 132 cm

Weight: 18100 grams

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Size in North America

Sexual Dimorphism: Males are larger than females.

Length:
Range: 750-1,000 mm

Weight:
Range: 8-20 kg males; 7-18 kg females
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Ecology

Habitat

Sierra Juarez and San Pedro Martir pine-oak forests Habitat

This taxon can be found in the Sierra Juarez and San Pedro Martir pine-oak forests. The ecoregion is located in two mountain ranges in the state of Baja California, Mexico: the Sierra de Juarez and the Sierra de San Pedro Martir. Both mountain ranges belong to the physiographical province of Baja California, and constitute the northernmost elevated peaks of the Baja Peninsula. The mountainous range that descends into a large portion of Baja California becomes more abrupt at Juarez and San Pedro Martir; the eastern slope is steeper than the western. Altitudes range between 1100-2800 meters. The granitic mountains of Juarez and San Pedro Martir have young rocky soils and are poorly developed, shallow, and low in organic matter.

Dominant trees in the ecoregion are: Pinus quadrifolia, P. jeffreyi, P. contorta, P. lambertiana, Abies concolor, and Libocedrus decurren. The herbaceous stratum is formed by Bromus sp. and Artemisia tridentata. Epiphytes and fungi are abundant throughout the forests.

Characteristic mammals of the ecoregion include: Ornate shrew (Sorex ornatus), Puma (Puma concolor), Fringed Myotis bat (Myotis thysanodes), California chipmunk (Tamias obscurus), Bobcat (Lynx rufus), Coyote (Canis latrans), San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis) and Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis).

Numerous birds are present in the ecoregion, including the rare Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), California condor (Gymnogyps californianus), Pinyon jay (Gymnohinus cyanocephalus), and White-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis).

A number of different reptilian taxa are found in these oak-pine forests; representative reptiles here are: the Banded rock lizard (Petrosaurus mearnsi); Common checkered whiptail (Cnemidophorus tesselatus), who is found in sparsely vegetated areas; Coast horned lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum), often found in locales of sandy soil, where individuals may burrow to escape surface heat; Night desert lizard (Xantusia vigilis), who is often found among bases of yucca, agaves and cacti; and the Baja California spiny lizard (Sceloporus zosteromus).

The Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla) is an anuran found within the Sierra Juarez and San Pedro Martir pine-oak forests as one of its western North America ecoregions of occurrence. The only other amphibian in the ecoregion is the Western toad (Anaxyrus boreas).

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California Montane Chaparral and Woodlands Habitat

This taxon can be found in the California montane chaparral and woodlands, a near coastal ecoregion in Central and Southern California, USA. This ecoregion is disjunctive, with a major element in Southern California and another along the Monterey County coast. The ecoregion encompasses most of the Transverse Range that includes the San Bernardino Mountains; San Gabriel Mountains; portions of the Santa Ynez and San Rafael Mountains; Topatopa Mountains; San Jacinto Mountains; the Tehachapi, Greenhorn, Piute, and Kiavah Mountains that extend roughly northeast-southwest from the southern Sierra Nevada; and the Santa Lucia Range that parallels the coast southward from Monterey Bay to Morro Bay.

The California montane chaparral and woodland ecoregion consists of a complex mosaic of coastal sage scrub, lower chaparral dominated by chamise, upper chaparral dominated by manzanita, desert chaparral, Piñon-juniper woodland, oak woodlands, closed-cone pine forests, yellow pine forests, sugar pine-white fir forests, lodgepole pine forests, and alpine habitats. The prevalence of drought-adapted scrub species in the flora of this ecoregion helps distinguish it from similar communities in the Sierras and other portions of northern California. Many of the shared Sierra Nevadan species typically are adapted to drier habitats in that ecoregion, Jeffrey Pine (Pinus jeffreyi) being a good example.

Oak species are an important component of many chaparral and forest communities throughout the ecoregion. Canyon Live Oak, Interior Live Oak, Tanbark Oak (not a true Quercus species), Engelmann Oak, Golden-cup Oak, and Scrub Oak are some examples. Mixed-conifer forests are found between 1371 to 2896 meters elevation with various combinations and dominance of incense cedar, sugar pine, and white fir, Jeffrey Pine, Ponderosa Pine, and mountain juniper. Subalpine forests consist of groves of Limber Pine (Pinus flexilis), Lodgepole Pine, and Jeffrey Pine. Very old individual trees are commonly observed in these relict subalpine forests. Within this zone are subalpine wet meadows, talus slope herbaceous communities, krumholz woodlands, and a few small aspen groves.

In addition to these general vegetation patterns, this ecoregion is noted for a variety of ecologic islands, communities with specialized conditions that are widely scattered and isolated and typically harbor endemic and relict species. Examples include two localities of Knobcone Pine (Pinus attenuata) on serpentine soils, scattered vernal pools with a number of endemic and relict species, and isolated populations of one of North America’s most diverse cypress floras, including the rare Gowen Cypress (Cupressus goveniana goveniana) restricted to two sites on acidic soils in the northern Santa Lucia Range, Monterey Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) found only at two coastal localities near Monterey Bay, and Sargent Cypress (Callitropsis sargentii LR/LC) restricted to serpentine outcrops. Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata) is also restricted to three coastal sites near Monterey Bay.

The ecoregion is also home to a few endemic or near-endemic mammalian vertebrates, such as the White-eared Pocket Mouse (Perognathus alticolus EN), a mammal known only to two disjunct mountain ranges in southern California: San Bernardino Mountains in San Bernardino County (ssp. alticolus), and the Tehachapi Mountains, in Kern, Ventura, and Los Angeles counties. The near-endemic fossorial Agile Kangaroo Rat (Dipodomys agilis) is found in the southern disjunctive unit of the ecoregion, and is known only to the Los Angeles Basin and foothills of San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains in Ventura, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties north to Santa Barbara County and through the southern Sierra Nevada, including Mount Pinos, Tehachapi and San Gabriel mountains, and northern San Fernando Valley. Non-endemic mammals found in the ecoregion include Botta's Pocket Gopher (Thomomys bottae) and Trowbridge's Shrew (Sorex trowbridgii). Some larger vertebrate predators can be found in the ecoregion, including Puma (Puma concolor), Bobcat (Lynx rufus), Coyote (Canis latrans), and Ringtails (Bassariscus astutus).

The ecoregion boasts five endemic and near-endemic amphibians, largely Plethodontid salamanders. Some specific salamander taxa found here are the endemic Tehachapi Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps stebbinsi VU), known from isolated sites in the Caliente Creek drainage, Piute Mountains, and Kern County, California along with scattered populations in the Tehachapi Mountains to Fort Tejon, Kern County; the near-endemic Blackbelly Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps nigriventris); the Monterey Ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii); the Channel Islands Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps pacificus), endemic to a narrow range restricted solely on Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel islands; and the Arboreal Salamander (Aneides lugubris), found only in California and Baja California. A newt found here is the Coast Range Newt (Taricha torosa). Anuran taxa in the ecoregion include the Foothill Yellow-legged Frog (Rana boylii NT); the Southern Mountain Yellow-legged Frog (Rana muscosa EN), a California endemic occurring in several disjunctive populations; and the Northern Red-legged Frog (Rana aurora).

The California montane chaparral and woodlands ecoregions contains a number of reptiles such as the Coast Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma coronatum), who ranges from Northern California to Baja California. Also found here is the Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus graciosus); the Western Fence Lizard (Sceloporus occidentalis); the Southern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria multicarinata); and the Side-blotched Lizard (Uta stansburiana). The Two-striped Garter Snake (Thamnophis hammondii) is a restricted range reptile found near-coastally from Monterey County, California southward to Baja California.

The California Condor once inhabited much of the ecoregion, with the western Transverse Range acting today as a refuge for some of the last wild populations, after considerable conservation efforts, especially in the Los Padres National Forest. The Heermann's Gull (Larus heermanni NT) is found in coastal areas of the ecoregion.

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Sonoran Desert Habitat

This taxon is found in the Sonoran Desert, which comprises much of the state of Sonora, Mexico, most of the southern half of the USA states of Arizona, southeastern California, most of the Baja California peninsula, and the numerous islands of the Gulf of California. Its southern third straddles 30° north latitude and is a horse latitude desert; the rest is rainshadow desert. It is lush in comparison to most other deserts. There is a moderate diversity of faunal organisms present, with 550 distinct vertebrate species having been recorded here.

The visually dominant elements of the landscape are two lifeforms that distinguish the Sonoran Desert from the other North American deserts: legume trees and large columnar cacti. This desert also supports many other organisms, encompassing a rich spectrum of some 2000 species of plants, 550 species of vertebrates, and untolled thousands of invertebrate species.

The Sonoran Desert prominently differs from the other three deserts of North America in having mild winters. Most of the area rarely experiences frost, and the biota are partly tropical in origin. Many of the perennial plants and animals are derived from ancestors in the tropical thorn-scrub to the south, their life cycles attuned to the brief summer rainy season. The winter rains, when ample, support great populations of annuals (which make up nearly half of the plant species). Some of the plants and animals are opportunistic, growing or reproducing after significant rainfall in any season.

Creosote Bush (Larrea divaricata) and White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) vegetation characterize the lower Colorado River Valley section of the Sonoran. The Arizona upland section to the north and east is more mesic, resulting in greater species diversity and richness. Lower elevation areas are dominated by dense communities of Creosote Bush and White Bursage, but on slopes and higher portions of bajadas, subtrees such as palo verde (Cercidium floridum, C. microphyllum) and Ironwood (Olneya tesota), saguaros (Carnegiea gigantia), and other tall cacti are abundant. Cresosote Bush (Larrea tridentata) and White Bursage (Ambrosia dumosa) form the scrub that dominates the northwest part of the Sonoran Desert. This association thrives on deep, sandy soils in the flatlands. Where the dunes allow for slight inclination of the slope, species of Mesquite (Prosopis), Cercidium, Ironwood (Olneya tesota), Candalia, Lycium, Prickly-pear (Opuntia), Fouquieria, Burrobush (Hymenoclea) and Acacia are favored. The coastal plains of Sonora are composed of an almost pure Larrea scrub. Away from the Gulf influence in the area surrounding the Pinacate, Encelia farinosa, Larrea tridentataOlneya, Cercidium, Prosopis, Fouquieria and various cacti species dominate the desert.

Many wildlife species, such as Sonoran Pronghorn Antelope (Antilocapra sonoriensis EN), Desert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) and the endemic Bailey's Pocket Mouse (Chaetodipus baileyi) use ironwood, cacti species and other vegetation as both shelter from the harsh climate as well as a water supply. Other mammals include predators such as Puma (Felis concolor), Coyote (Canis latrans) and prey such as Black-tailed Jackrabbit (Lepus californicus), and the Round-tailed Ground Squirrel (Spermophilus tereticaudus). Other mammals able to withstand the extreme desert climate of this ecoregion include California Leaf-nosed Bat (Macrotus californicus) and Ring-tailed Cat (Bassariscus astutus).

Three endemic lizards to the Sonoran Desert are: the Coachella Fringe-toed Lizard (Uma inornata EN); the Flat-tail Horned Lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii NT); and the Colorado Desert Fringe-toed Lizard (Uma notata NT); an endemic whiptail is the San Esteban Island Whiptail (Cnemidophorus estebanensis). Non-endemic special status reptiles in the ecoregion include the Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii VU) and the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum NT).

There are twenty-four  anuran species occurring in the Sonoran Desert, one of which is endemic, the Sonoran Green Toad (Anaxyrus retiformis). Other anurans in the ecoregion are: California Treefrog (Pseudacris cadaverina); Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor); Lowland Burrowing Frog (Smilisca fodiens); Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii); Madrean Treefrog (Hyla eximia); Sabinal Frog (Leptodactylus melanonotus); Northwest Mexico Leopard Frog (Lithobates magnaocularis); Brown's Leopard Frog (Lithobates brownorum); Yavapai Leopard Frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis); Mexican Cascade Frog (Lithobates pustulosus); Mexican Leaf Frog (Pachymedusa dacnicolor); Red Spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); Sinaloa Toad (Incilius mazatlanensis); Sonoran Desert Toad (Incilius alvarius); Eastern Green Toad  (Anaxyrus debilis); New Mexico Spadefoot (Spea multiplicata); Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus); Couch's Spadefoot Toad (Scaphiopus couchii); Cane Toad (Rhinella marina); Elegant Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne elegans);  Little Mexican Toad (Anaxyrus kelloggi); Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea); and Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii).

The Sonoran Desert is recognized as an exceptional birding area. Forty-one percent (261 of 622) of all terrestrial bird species found in the USA can be seen here during some season of the year. The Sonoran Desert, together with its eastern neighbor the Chihuahuan Desert, is the richest area in in the USA for birds, particularly hummingbirds. Among the bird species found in the Sonoran Desert are the saguaro-inhabiting Costa's Hummingbird (Calypte costae), Black-tailed Gnatcatcher (Polioptila melanura), Phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens) and Gila Woodpecker (Melanerpes uropygualis). Perhaps the most well-known Sonoran bird is the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus), distinguished by its preference for running rather than flying, as it hunts scorpions, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, lizards, and other prey. The Sonoran Desert exhibits two endemic bird species, the highest level of bird endemism in the USA. The Rufous-winged Sparrow (Aimophila carpalis) is rather common in most parts of the Sonoran, but only along the central portion of the Arizona-Mexico border, seen in desert grasses admixed with brush. Rare in extreme southern Arizona along the Mexican border, the endemic Five-striped Sparrow (Aimophila quinquestriata) is predominantly found in canyons on hillsides and slopes among tall, dense scrub.

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Sierra Madre Oriental Pine-oak Forests Habitat

This taxon is found in the Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests, which exhibit a very diverse community of endemic and specialized species of plants, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. These high mountains run north to south, beginning in the USA and ending in Mexico. The Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests are a highly disjunctive ecoregion, owing to the fact that they are present only at higher elevations, within a region with considerable expanses of lower elevation desert floor.

The climate is temperate humid on the northeastern slope, and temperate sub-humid on the western slope and highest portions of the mountain range. Pine-oak forest habitat covers most of the region, even though most of the primary forest has been destroyed or degraded. However, the wettest portions house a community of cloud forests that constitute the northernmost patches of this vegetation in Mexico. The forests grow on soils derived from volcanic rocks that have a high content of organic matter. The soils of lower elevations are derived from sedimentary rocks, and some of them are formed purely of limestone. In the northernmost portions of the ecoregion, the forests occur on irregular hummocks that constitute biological "islands" of temperate forest in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert. To the south, from Nuevo León southward until Guanajuato and Queretaro, the ecoregion is more continuous along the mainstem of the Sierra Madre Oriental.

Dominant tree species include the pines: the endemic Nelson's Pine (Pinus nelsonii), Mexican Pinyon (P. cembroides), Smooth-bark Mexican Pine (P. pseudostrobus), and Arizona Pine (P. arizonica); and the oaks Quercus castanea and Q. affinis. In mesic environments, the most common species are P. cembroides, and Alligator Juniper (Juniperus deppeana), but in more xeric environments on the west slopes of the mountains, the endemic P. pinceana is more abundant. Gregg's Pine (P. greggii) and Jelecote Pine (P. patula) are endemic.

Many mammalian species wander these rugged hills. Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Puma (Puma concolor), Cliff Chipmunk (Tamias dorsalis), Collared Peccary (Tayassu tajacu), Coati (Nasua narica), Jaguar (Panthera onca) and Coyote (Canis latrans) are a few of the many diverse mammals that inhabit this ecoregion. Some threatened mammals found in the ecoregion are: Bolaños Woodrat (Neotoma palatina VU); Diminutive Woodrat (Nelsonia neotomodon NT), known chiefly from the western versant of the Sierra Madre; Chihuahuan Mouse (Peromyscus polius NT); and Mexican Long-nosed Bat (Leptonycteris nivalis EN).

A considerable number of reptilian taxa are found in the Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests, including three endemic snakes: Ridgenose Rattlesnake (Crotalus willardi); Fox´s Mountain Meadow Snake (Adelophis foxi); and the Longtail Rattlesnake (Crotalus stejnegeri VU), restricted to the central Sierra Madre. An endemic skink occurring in the ecoregion is the Fair-headed Skink (Plestiodon callicephalus). The Striped Plateau Lizard (Sceloporus virgatus) is endemic to the ecoregion. The Sonoran Mud Turtle (Kinosternon sonoriense VU) is found in the ecoregion and ranges from southwestern New Mexico south to northwestern Chihuahua.

The following anuran taxa occur in the Sierra Madre Oriental pine-oak forests: Red-spotted Toad (Anaxyrus punctatus); Cane Toad (Rhinella marina); Elegant Narrow-mouthed Toad (Gastrophryne elegans); New Mexico Spadefoot Toad (Spea multiplicata); Sinaloa Toad (Incilius mazatlanensis); Pine Toad (Incilius occidentalis); Southwestern Toad (Anaxyrus microscaphus); Woodhouse's Toad (Anaxyrus woodhousii); Great Plains Narrowmouth Toad (Gastrophryne olivacea); Great Plains Toad (Anaxyrus cognatus); Plateau Toad (Anaxyrus compactilis); Texas Toad (Anaxyrus speciosus); Sonoran Desert Toad (Incilius alvarius), found only at lower ecoregion elevations here; Rana-ladrona Silbadora (Eleutherodactylus teretistes); Sabinal Frog (Leptodactylus melanonotus); Mexican Leaf Frog (Pachymedusa dacnicolor); Montezuma Leopard Frog (Lithobates montezumae); Yavapai Leopard Frog (Lithobates yavapaiensis); Northwest Mexico Leopard Frog (Lithobates magnaocularis); Bigfoot Leopard Frog (Lithobates megapoda), who generally breeds in permanent surface water bodies; Mexican Cascade Frog (Lithobates pustulosus); Tarahumara Frog (Lithobates tarahumarae VU); Western Barking Frog (Craugastor augusti); Lowland Burrowing Frog (Smilisca fodiens); Taylor's Barking Frog (Craugastor occidentalis); Blunt-toed Chirping Frog (Eleutherodactylus modestus VU), found only at the very lowest elevations of the ecoregion; Shiny Peeping Frog (Eleutherodactylus nitidus); California Chorus Frog (Pseudacris cadaverina); Rio Grande Frog (Lithobates berlandieri); Madrean Treefrog (Hyla eximia); Mexican Treefrog (Smilisca baudinii); Dwarf Mexican Treefrog (Tlalocohyla smithii); Canyon Treefrog (Hyla arenicolor); Northern Sheep Frog (Hypopachus variolosus); Chiricahua Leopard Frog (Lithobates chiricahuensis). There are three salamanders found in the ecoregion: the endemic Sacramento Mountains Salamander (Aneides hardii), found only in very high montane reaches above 2400 meters; Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum); and the Tarahumara Salamander (Ambystoma rosaceum).

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Central Pacific Coastal Forests Habitat

This taxon is found in the Central Pacific Coastal Forests ecoregion, as one of its North American ecoregions of occurrence. These mixed conifer rainforests stretch from stretch from southern Oregon in the USA to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, Canada. These forests are among the most productive in the world, characterized by large trees, substantial woody debris, luxuriant growths of mosses and lichens, and abundant ferns and herbs on the forest floor. The major forest complex consists of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) and Western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla), encompassing seral forests dominated by Douglas-fir and massive old-growth forests of Douglas-fir, Western hemlock, Western red cedar (Thuja plicata), and other species. These forests occur from sea level up to elevations of 700-1000 meters in the Coast Range and Olympic Mountains. Such forests occupy a gamut of environments with variable composition and structure and includes such other species as Grand fir (Abies grandis), Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), and Western white pine (Pinus monticola).

Characteristic mammalian fauna include Elk (Cervus elaphus), Black-tailed Deer (Odocoileus hemionus), Coyote (Canis latrans), Black Bear (Ursus americanus), Mink (Mustela vison), and Raccoon (Procyon lotor).

The following anuran species occur in the Central Pacific coastal forests: Coastal tailed frog (Ascaphus truei); Oregon spotted frog (Rana pretiosa VU); Northern red-legged frog (Rana pretiosa); Pacific chorus frog (Pseudacris regilla); Cascade frog (Rana cascadae NT), generally restricted to the Cascade Range from northern Washington to the California border; Foothill yellow-legged frog (Rana boylii) and the Western toad (Anaxyrus boreas NT).  A newt found in the ecoregion is the Rough skinned newt (Taricha granulosa).

Salamanders within the ecoregion are: Del Norte salamander (Plethodon elongatus NT);  Van Dyke's salamander (Plethodon vandykei); Western redback salamander (Plethodon vehiculum); Northwestern salamander (Ambystoma gracile);  Olympic torrent salamander (Rhyacotriton olympicus VU), whose preferred habitat is along richly leafed stream edges; Long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum), whose adults are always subterranean except during the breeding season; Dunn's salamander (Plethodon dunni), usually found in seeps and stream splash zones; Clouded salamander (Aneides ferreus NT), an aggressive insectivore; Monterey ensatina (Ensatina eschscholtzii), usually found in thermally insulated micro-habitats such as under logs and rocks; Pacific giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus), found in damp, dense forests near streams; and Cope's giant salamander (Dicamptodon copei), usually found in rapidly flowing waters on the Olympic Peninsula and Cascade Range.

There are a small number of reptilian taxa that are observed within this forested ecoregion, including: Pacific pond turtle (Emys marmorata); Common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), an adaptable snake most often found near water; Northern alligator lizard (Elgaria coerulea); and the Western fence lizard.

Numerous avian species are found in the ecoregion, both resident and migratory. Example taxa occurring here are the Belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon); Wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo); and the White-headed woodpecker (Picoides albolarvatus) and the Trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator), the largest of the North American waterfowl.

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Comments: Found in a wide range of habitats in its extensive range, from open prairies of the west to the heavily forested regions of the Northeast. In cities in some areas.

Examples of some recent habitat studies: In northern Vermont, preferred hardwood forests in winter and spring, farmland in summer and fall (Person and Hirth 1991). In British Columbia, preferred dense spruce forest and/or areas where snowshoe hare was abundant (Murray et al. 1994).

Young are born in a den usually in a burrow (enlarged burrow of other mammal or dug by female), with the opening often oriented toward the south. Dens also may be above ground (e.g., at base of tree under low, overhanging branches; in hollow log or rock crevice), or under building. Commonly uses same den in subsequent years.

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Coyotes utilize almost all available habitats including prairie, forest, desert, mountain and tropical ecosystems. The ability of coyotes to exploit human resources allows them to occupy urban areas. Water availability may limit Coyote distribution in some desert environments.

Coyotes are opportunistic, generalist predators that eat a variety of food items, typically consuming items in relation to changes in availability. Coyotes eat foods ranging from fruit and insects to large ungulates and livestock. Livestock and wild ungulates may often be represented in coyote stomachs and scats as carrion, but predation on large ungulates (native and domestic) does occur (Andelt 1987). Predation by Coyotes on neonates of native ungulates can be high during fawning (Andelt 1987). Coyotes in suburban areas are adept at exploiting human-made food resources and will readily consume dog food or other human-related items.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Coyotes are extremely adaptable and use a wide range of habitats including forests, grasslands, deserts, and swamps. They are typically excluded from areas with wolves. Coyotes, because of their tolerance for human activities, also occur in suburban, agricultural, and urban settings.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: taiga ; desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; scrub forest ; mountains

Wetlands: swamp

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural ; riparian

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Cover Requirements

More info for the term: cover

Coyotes commonly hunt in open to semiopen areas [12,18,51]. In
California coyotes used ecotones, fuelbreaks, roads, trails, and open
chaparral more than dense unbroken cover. In southern California where
chaparral is adjacent to unbroken areas, coyotes forage at night along
edges and return during the day to chaparral cover. The steep slopes
and heavy cover of most chaparral communities impede coyote movements
[51]. In Georgia, the proportion of open area in coyote home ranges was
significantly (P less than 0.04) greater than that generally available in the
area, and the proportion of forest was significantly (P less than 0.04) less [59].

Coyotes use cover for daytime resting and den sites. In Georgia, areas
with "sufficient" cover were used more for daytime rest sites, and early
successional and open areas were used more for nocturnal foraging. In
summer, some coyotes used corn fields for cover during the day [59].
Urban coyotes in Seattle, Washington, foraged in residential areas, but
only in areas that were immediately adjacent to forest cover. Forested
areas provided the majority of cover, including denning sites [51].
  • 12. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]
  • 51. Quinn, Ronald D. 1990. Habitat preferences and distribution of mammals in California chaparral. Res. Pap. PSW-202. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. 11 p. [15761]
  • 59. Holzman, Stephen; Conroy, Michael J.; Pickering, John. 1992. Home range, movements, and habitat use of coyotes in southcentral Georgia. Journal of Wildlife Management. 56(1): 139-146. [24978]
  • 18. DeGraaf, Richard M.; Yamasaki, Mariko. 1986. New England wildlife: habitat, natural history, and distribution. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-108. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 491 p. [21386]

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Preferred Habitat

More info for the term: cover

Coyotes occupy a broad range of habitats [4,12,64]. Almost any habitat
that supports prey populations also supports coyotes; however, some
preferences have been noted (refer to PLANT COMMUNITIES slot) [64].

Dens - Coyotes den in a wide variety of places, including brush-covered
slopes, steep banks, rock ledges, thickets, and hollow logs. Dens
previously used by other animals (e.g., American badgers [Taxidea
taxus]) are frequently used [12]. Dens are usually about 1 foot (0.3 m)
in diameter and from 5 to 25 feet (1.5-7.5 m) long [4]. They usually
have more than one entrance and many interconnecting tunnels. The same
den may be used from year to year. Den sharing occurs only rarely
[4,12]. Movement of pups from one den to another is very common. The
reason is unknown, but disturbance and possibly infestation by parasites
may be factors. Most moves are over relatively short distances;
however, moves over 2.5 miles (4 km) are not uncommon [12].

Home range and territory - A single home range may be inhabited by a
family of two or more generations, a mated pair, or a single adult.
Home ranges vary from an average of 2 square miles (5 sq km) in Texas
[1] to averages of 21 to 55 square miles (54-142 sq km) in Washington
[57]. Males tend to have larger home ranges than females. In
Minnesota, male home ranges averaged 16 square miles (42 sq km), whereas
those of females averaged 4 square miles (10 sq km). The home ranges of
males overlapped considerably, but those of females did not [4]. In
Arkansas, Gipson and Sealander [26] reported that male coyote home
ranges were 8 to 16 square miles (21-42 sq km) and female home ranges
were 3 to 4 square miles (8-10 sq km).

In southeastern Colorado, the home range size of coyotes varied with
habitat, which was correlated with prey abundance. Coyotes in canyon
woodlands and in hills dominated by pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus
spp.) woodlands interspersed with grassland and shrubland had the
smallest home ranges. Coyotes in pinyon-juniper-prairie had
intermediate-size home ranges, and coyotes in shortgrass prairie had the
largest home ranges. As the amount of pinyon-juniper increased, home
range size decreased, possibly because these areas had high small mammal
populations and provided cover for resting sites and dens. The
shortgrass prairie had the lowest relative abundance of small mammals in
the study area [25].

Group size and social behavior may also influence home range size.
Coyotes living in packs and defending ungulate carrion during winter may
have smaller home ranges than coyotes living in pairs or alone [12,64].
Typically, only pack members defend territories; pairs of coyotes and
solitary individuals do not [4,12].
  • 1. Andelt, William F. 1985. Behavioral ecology of coyotes in South Texas. Wildlife Monograph 94. Washington, DC: Wildlife Society. 45 p. [25123]
  • 4. Bekoff, Marc. 1977. Canis latrans. Mammalian Species. 79: 1-9. [24979]
  • 12. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]
  • 25. Gese, Eric M.; Rongstad, Orrin J.; Mytton, William R. 1988. Home range and habitat use of coyotes in southeastern Colorado. Journal of Wildlife Management. 52(4): 640-646. [6136]
  • 26. Gipson, Philip S.; Sealander, John A. 1972. Home range and activity of the coyote (Canis latrans frustror) in Arkansas. Proceedings, Annual Conference Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners. 26: 82-95. [25125]
  • 57. Springer, Joseph Tucker. 1982. Movement patterns of coyotes in south central Washington. Journal of Wildlife Management. 46(1): 191-200. [25117]
  • 64. Voigt, Dennis R.; Berg, William E. 1987. Coyote. In: Novak, M.; Baker, J. A.; Obbard, M. E.; Malloch, B., ed. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. [Place of publication unknown]: [Publisher unknown]. 344-357. [24980]

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Associated Plant Communities

More info for the term: tundra

Coyotes evolved in a plains environment and were historically most
numerous in western grasslands where large ungulate populations were
high. Coyotes flourished in the shortgrass-steppe, semiarid sagebrush
(Artemisia spp.)-grasslands, and deserts, and they ranged from deserts
and plains to alpine areas of adjacent mountains [58].

Today, range expansions indicate that coyotes can be successful in any
plant community from the tropics of Guatemala to the tundra of northern
Alaska [58]. Although they occur in most plant communities throughout
their range, coyotes do show some preferences. In the Intermountain
region, coyotes are closely associated with sagebrush communities.
Coyotes in eastern Nevada preferred black sagebrush (Artemisia nova)
flats to other habitats. These flats were areas of highest black-tailed
jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) densities [44]. In the Sierra Nevada,
California, coyotes inhabit almost every plant community and
successional stage. However, they prefer grass-forb and shrub-conifer
seedling-conifer sapling communities [63].
  • 44. McAdoo, J. Kent; Klebenow, Donald A. 1979. Native faunal relationships in sagebrush ecosystems. In: The sagebrush ecosystem: a symposium: Proceedings; 1978 April; Logan, UT. Logan, UT: Utah State University, College of Natural Resources: 50-61. [1562]
  • 58. Spowart, Richard A.; Samson, Fred B. 1986. Carnivores. In: Cooperrider, Allan Y.; Boyd, Raymond J.; Stuart, Hanson R., eds. Inventory and monitoring of wildlife habitat. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Service Center: 475-496. [13526]
  • 63. Verner, Jared; Boss, Allan S., tech. coords. 1980. California wildlife and their habitats: western Sierra Nevada. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-37. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 439 p. [10237]

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Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):

More info for the term: cover

Coyotes probably occur in all SRM (rangeland) cover types.

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

More info for the term: cover

Coyotes probably occur in all SAF cover types.

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

Coyotes probably occur in all Kuchler plant associations.

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

FRES10 White-red-jack pine
FRES11 Spruce-fir
FRES12 Longleaf-slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly-shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak-pine
FRES15 Oak-hickory
FRES16 Oak-gum-cypress
FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood
FRES18 Maple-beech-birch
FRES19 Aspen-birch
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES22 Western white pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES24 Hemlock-Sitka spruce
FRES25 Larch
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES27 Redwood
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES31 Shinnery
FRES32 Texas savanna
FRES33 Southwestern shrubsteppe
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie
FRES40 Desert grasslands
FRES41 Wet grasslands
FRES42 Annual grasslands
FRES44 Alpine

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Coyotes are extremely adaptable and use a wide range of habitats including forests, grasslands, deserts, and swamps. They are typically excluded from areas with wolves. Coyotes, because of their tolerance for human activities, also occur in suburban, agricultural, and urban settings.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: taiga ; desert or dune ; savanna or grassland ; chaparral ; forest ; scrub forest ; mountains

Wetlands: swamp

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural ; riparian

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Migration

Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Adults travel an average of up to 20 km every day. In a pine-oak forest in Durango, Mexico, males (the more mobile sex) traveled an average of 16.5 km during a 24-hour period, more than the 8.1 km recorded in Texas, similar to distances traveled in forested area in Nebraska, and less than the 20.2 km in Nova Scotia (see Servin et al. 2003). Females in Durango averged 12.5 km per 24 hours. Distances varied during different parts of the breeding cycle.

Home ranges variously reported as 8-80 square kilometers (Bekoff 1977); 10-100 square kilometers (Hawthorne 1971); 5-7.2 square kilometers (stable packs in an area of large mammal abundance; Camenzind 1978).

Home range averaged 17-19 sq km for adults in a farm region in Vermont, where all members of individual family groups shared the same home range and core activity areas of adjacent social groups were mutually exclusive (Person and Hirth 1991). Home range may be larger in winter than in summer (Schwartz and Schwartz 1981, Parker and Maxwell 1989); range increases greatly after pups reared (Harrison and Gilbert 1985).

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: An opportunistic feeder; mainly carrion (including prey killed by other carnivores), small vertebrates, and invertebrates. Occasionally feeds on vegetation.

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Food Habits

Coyotes are versatile in their eating habits. They are carnivorous; 90% of their diet is mammalian. They eat primarily small mammals, such as sylvilagus floridanus, spermophilus tridecemlineatus, and peromyscus leucopus. They occasionally eat aves, serpentes, large insecta and other large invertebrates. They prefer fresh meat, but they consume large amounts of carrion. Part of what makes coyotes so successful at living in so many different places is the fact that they will eat almost anything, including human trash and household pets in suburban areas. Plants eaten include leaves of balsam fir and white cedar, sasparilla, strawberry, and apple. Fruits and vegetables are a significant part of the diet of coyotes in the fall and winter months. Coyotes hunt animals in interesting ways. When on a "mousing" expedition, they slowly stalk through the grass and sniff out the mouse. Suddenly, with all four legs held stiffly together, the coyotes stiffen and pounce on the prey. Hunting deer, on the other hand, calls for teamwork. Coyotes may take turns pursuing the deer until it tires, or they may drive it towards a hidden member of the pack. Coyotes sometimes form "hunting partnerships" with Taxidea taxus. Because coyotes aren't very effective at digging rodents out of their burrows, they chase the animals while they're above ground. Badgers do not run quickly, but are well-adapted to digging rodents out of burrows. When both hunt together they effectively leave no escape for prey in the area. The average distance covered in a night's hunting is 4 km.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; reptiles; carrion ; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; terrestrial worms

Plant Foods: leaves; fruit

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Food Habits

Coyotes are opportunistic feeders and eat a variety of food [4,12,64].
About 90 percent of their diet consists of animal matter; however, they
also eat vegetable matter. Some common prey items include deer, elk,
sheep (Ovis spp.), rabbits and hares (Leporidae), various rodents
(Rodentia), ground-nesting birds, amphibians, lizards, snails, fish,
crustaceans, and insects. During winter, much of the diet is made up of
rabbits, hares, and the carrion of large ungulates. Small mammals,
especially voles and mice (Muridae), are important food items during
spring, summer, and fall [4,64]. Various berries are also eaten [4].

An extensive study of coyote food habits conducted in 17 western states
showed that major diet items were lagomorphs (33%), carrion (25%),
rodents (18%), and domestic livestock (13.5%) [56]. Coyote diets in
sagebrush habitat of northeastern Utah and south-central Idaho consisted
of about 75 percent black-tailed jackrabbits year-round [13]. In
northeastern California, meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) occurred
in about half of all coyote scats analyzed. Other important diet items
were mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and cattle, probably eaten as
carrion [33]. Mule deer were also important in coyote diets in two
areas of southern Utah. In central Wyoming, mule deer, pronghorn
(Antilocapra americana), white-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus townsendii),
and desert cottontails (Sylvilagus audubonii) were present in 63 percent
of coyote scats [58]. On Arizona cattle ranges, where the habitat was
primarily open grasslands, oak (Quercus spp.), juniper, and ponderosa
pine (Pinus ponderosa), coyote diets contained high percentages of plant
material. Juniper berries were particularly important, followed by
prickly pear (Opuntia spp.) fruit [47].
  • 4. Bekoff, Marc. 1977. Canis latrans. Mammalian Species. 79: 1-9. [24979]
  • 12. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]
  • 13. Clark, Frank W. 1972. Influence of jackrabbit density on coyote population change. Journal of Wildlife Management. 36(2): 343-356. [25122]
  • 33. Hawthorne, Vernon M. 1972. Coyote food habits in Sagehen Creek Basin, northeastern California. California Fish and Game. 58(1): 4-12. [25124]
  • 47. Murie, Adolph. 1951. Coyote food habits on a southwestern cattle range. Journal of Mammalogy. 32(3): 291-295. [25116]
  • 56. Sperry, Charles C. 1941. Food habits of the coyote. Wildlife Research Bulletin 4. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 70 p. [25128]
  • 58. Spowart, Richard A.; Samson, Fred B. 1986. Carnivores. In: Cooperrider, Allan Y.; Boyd, Raymond J.; Stuart, Hanson R., eds. Inventory and monitoring of wildlife habitat. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Service Center: 475-496. [13526]
  • 64. Voigt, Dennis R.; Berg, William E. 1987. Coyote. In: Novak, M.; Baker, J. A.; Obbard, M. E.; Malloch, B., ed. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. [Place of publication unknown]: [Publisher unknown]. 344-357. [24980]

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Food Habits

Coyotes are versatile in their eating habits. They are carnivorous; 90% of their diet is mammalian. They eat primarily small mammals, such as eastern cottontail rabbits, thirteen-lined ground squirrels, and white-footed mice. They occasionally eat birds, snakes, large insects and other large invertebrates. They prefer fresh meat, but they consume large amounts of carrion. Part of what makes coyotes so successful at living in so many different places is the fact that they will eat almost anything, including human trash and household pets in suburban areas. Plants eaten include leaves of balsam fir and white cedar, sasparilla, strawberry, and apple. Fruits and vegetables are a significant part of the diet of coyotes in the fall and winter months. Coyotes hunt animals in interesting ways. When on a "mousing" expedition, they slowly stalk through the grass and sniff out the mouse. Suddenly, with all four legs held stiffly together, the coyotes stiffen and pounce on the prey. Hunting deer, on the other hand, calls for teamwork. Coyotes may take turns pursuing the deer until it tires, or they may drive it towards a hidden member of the pack. Coyotes sometimes form "hunting partnerships" with badgers. Because coyotes aren't very effective at digging rodents out of their burrows, they chase the animals while they're above ground. Badgers do not run quickly, but are well-adapted to digging rodents out of burrows. When both hunt together they effectively leave no escape for prey in the area. The average distance covered in a night's hunting is 4 km.

Animal Foods: birds; mammals; reptiles; carrion ; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; terrestrial worms

Plant Foods: leaves; fruit

Primary Diet: omnivore

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Coyotes help in keeping many small mammal populations in check, such as muridae and leporidae. If populations of these small mammals were allowed to become too large it would result in habitat degradation

Mutualist Species:

  • American badgers (Taxidea_taxus)

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Predation

Coyotes are very secretive. Especially near human habitations they are active mostly early in the morning and late in the evening. Coyotes keep their young in or near the den while they are young so that the pups aren't killed by predators and competitors such as canis lupus and puma concolor.

Known Predators:

  • humans (Homo_sapiens)
  • gray wolves (Canis_lupus)
  • mountain lions (Puma_concolor)

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Predators

Mountain lions (Felis concolor) sometimes kill and eat coyotes [4].
Other predators of coyotes include humans, gray wolves, black bears
(Ursus americanus), and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos). Golden eagles
(Aquila chrysaetos) attack young coyotes [2].
  • 2. Banfield, A. W. F. 1974. The mammals of Canada. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press. 438 p. [21084]
  • 4. Bekoff, Marc. 1977. Canis latrans. Mammalian Species. 79: 1-9. [24979]

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Ecosystem Roles

Coyotes help in keeping many small mammal populations in check, such as mice and rabbits. If populations of these small mammals were allowed to become too large it would result in habitat degradation

Mutualist Species:

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Predation

Coyotes are very secretive. Especially near human habitations they are active mostly early in the morning and late in the evening. Coyotes keep their young in or near the den while they are young so that the pups aren't killed by predators and competitors such as wolves and mountain lions.

Known Predators:

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Known predators

Canis latrans is prey of:
Homo sapiens

Based on studies in:
Canada: Manitoba (Forest)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • R. D. Bird, Biotic communities of the Aspen Parkland of central Canada, Ecology, 11:356-442, from p. 410 (1930).
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Known prey organisms

Canis latrans preys on:
Spermophilus richardsonii
Microtus
Spermophilus tridecemlineatus
Thomomys
Leporidae
Microtus ochrogaster
Geomyidae
Spermophilus
Peromyscus
Tamias
Odocoileus
Marmota
Ochotonidae
Arvicolinae
Peromyscus maniculatus
Schismus barbatus
seeds of other plants
leaves
carcass
Chaetodipus penicillatus
Sylvilagus
Neotoma
Dipodomys
Oreoscoptes montanus
Turdus migratorius
Icteridae
Icterus
Mimus polyglottos
Cardinalis cardinalis
Sialia
Apodidae
Onychomys
Cardinalis
Lampropeltis triangulum
Anas strepera
Anas acuta
Anas cyanoptera
Parabuteo unicinctus
Cyrtonyx montezumae
Fulica americana
Zenaida asiatica
Chordeiles minor
Amphispiza bilineata
Corvus corax
Didelphis virginiana
Blarina brevicauda
Blarina carolinensis
Neurotrichus gibbsii
Sylvilagus floridanus
Sylvilagus nuttallii
Marmota monax
Spermophilus beecheyi
Spermophilus lateralis
Spermophilus washingtoni
Glaucomys sabrinus
Ammospermophilus leucurus
Tamias alpinus
Tamias dorsalis
Tamias merriami
Thomomys mazama
Dipodomys compactus
Dipodomys deserti
Dipodomys microps
Dipodomys venustus
Perognathus fasciatus
Peromyscus boylii
Microtus californicus
Ondatra zibethicus
Reithrodontomys megalotis
Sigmodon fulviventer
Neotoma lepida
Onychomys arenicola
Lontra canadensis
Mustela frenata
Procyon lotor
Bassariscus astutus
Canis lupus
Vulpes vulpes
Cervus elaphus
Odocoileus virginianus
Lemmiscus curtatus
Chaetodipus baileyi
Falcipennis canadensis
Peromyscus aztecus
Canis lupus familiaris

Based on studies in:
Canada: Manitoba (Grassland)
USA: Arizona (Forest, Montane)
USA: Montana (Tundra)
USA: Arizona, Sonora Desert (Desert or dune)
USA: New Mexico, Aden Crater (Carrion substrate)
USA: New Mexico, White Sands (Carrion substrate)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • D. I. Rasmussen, Biotic communities of Kaibab Plateau, Arizona, Ecol. Monogr. 11(3):228-275, from p. 261 (1941).
  • R. D. Bird, Biotic communities of the Aspen Parkland of central Canada, Ecology, 11:356-442, from p. 410 (1930).
  • D. L. Pattie and N. A. M. Verbeek, Alpine birds of the Beartooth Mountains, Condor 68:167-176 (1966); Alpine mammals of the Beartooth Mountains, Northwest Sci. 41(3):110-117 (1967).
  • P. G. Howes, The Giant Cactus Forest and Its World: A Brief Biology of the Giant Cactus Forest of Our American Southwest (Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, New York; Little, Brown, Boston; 1954), from pp. 222-239, from p. 227.
  • R. D. Bird, Biotic communities of the Aspen Parkland of central Canada, Ecology, 11:356-442, from p. 383 (1930).
  • M. McKinnerney, 1977. Carrion communities in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. M.S. thesis. University of Texas-El Paso, Texas; and 1978, Carrion communities in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. Southw. Nat. 23:563-576, from thesis and p. 571.
  • Myers, P., R. Espinosa, C. S. Parr, T. Jones, G. S. Hammond, and T. A. Dewey. 2006. The Animal Diversity Web (online). Accessed February 16, 2011 at http://animaldiversity.org. http://www.animaldiversity.org
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General Ecology

Population density generally is around 0.2-1.0 per sq km, though seasonally higher densities have been recorded in Texas. (Knowlton 1972). Most of the population usually is less than 3 years old.

In the north, populations may increase when wolf population is low, decrease when wolf population increases.

In Texas, "interactions between social organization and food availability were implicated in regulation of [a]...lightly exploited high-density population" (Windberg 1995).

In the prairie pothole region, the presence of low numbers of coyotes may benefit ducks by excluding the more destructive red fox (NBS news release, 29 June 1994).

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Habitat-related Fire Effects

More info for the terms: density, fire exclusion

Fire may improve the foraging habitat and prey base of coyotes. In New
England, coyotes are commonly found in forest openings created by fire
or logging [18]. Fires that reduce vegetation height and create open
areas probably increase hunting efficiency by coyotes. Surface fires
often open substrates for quieter stalking and easier capture of prey
than can occur in closed forests [38]. Wirtz [68] noted increases in
consumption of birds and deer by coyotes after a chaparral fire in the
San Dimas Experimental Forest, California. Increased consumption was
presumably the result of increased vulnerability of prey with reduced
cover, but no change was noted in small mammal consumption.

Periodic fire helps to maintain habitat for many prey species of coyote.
Fires that create a mosaic of burned and unburned areas are probably the
most beneficial to many coyote prey species. Several studies indicate
that many small mammal populations increase rapidly subsequent to
burning in response to increased food availability. Fire often improves
hare and rabbit forage quality and quantity for two or more growing
seasons [38]. Hill [67] concluded that burning at intervals longer than
2 years would be less beneficial to rabbits and hares, but any fire is
believed better than fire exclusion. Along the coast of northern
California, black-tailed jackrabbits occurred at highest density in open
brush, moderate density on recent burn areas, and lowest density in
mature chaparral stands [68]. Wagle [65] reported that fire suppression
in grasslands is detrimental to populations of small bird and mammal
herbivores due to organic matter accumulation and reduced plant vigor.

The 1988 fires in Yellowstone National Park have probably benefited
coyotes. Fire in combination with drought likely increased available
carrion the fall and winter following the fire. Additionally, the fires
stimulated grass production, which should lead to an increase in small
mammal populations [45].

In California, coyotes are abundant in young chaparral (less than 20
years old) and are rare or absent in chaparral that has not been burned
for 20 years or more [51]. Quinn [51] observed more coyote sign during
the second and third years after a chamise (Adenostoma spp.) chaparral
wildfire in Riverside County than had been observed prior to burning.
Coyote numbers increased during the second and third years following a
chaparral fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills [39].
  • 39. Lawrence, George E. 1966. Ecology of vertebrate animals in relation to chaparral fire in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Ecology. 47(2): 278-291. [147]
  • 51. Quinn, Ronald D. 1990. Habitat preferences and distribution of mammals in California chaparral. Res. Pap. PSW-202. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. 11 p. [15761]
  • 65. Wagle, R. F. 1981. Fire: its effects on plant succession and wildlife in the Southwest. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona. 82 p. [4031]
  • 67. Hill, Edward P. 1981. Prescribed fire and rabbits in southern forests. In: Wood, Gene W., ed. Prescribed fire and wildlife in southern forests: Proceedings of a symposium; 1981 April 6-8; Myrtle Beach, SC. Georgetown, SC: Clemson University, Belle W. Baruch Forest Science Institute: 103-108. [14816]
  • 68. Wirtz, William O., II. 1977. Vertebrate post-fire succession. In: Mooney, Harold A.; Conrad, C. Eugene, technical coordinators. Symposium on the environmental consequences of fire and fuel management in Mediterranean ecosystems: Proceedings; 1977 August 1-5; Palo Alto, CA. Gen. Tech. Rep. WO-3. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 46-57. [4801]
  • 38. Landers, J. Larry. 1987. Prescribed burning for managing wildlife in southeastern pine forests. In: Dickson, James G.; Maughan, O. Eugene, eds. Managing southern forests for wildlife and fish: a proceedings; [Date of conference unknown]; [Location of conference unknown]. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-65. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 19-27. [11562]
  • 45. Mills, Susan M., editor. 1989. The Greater Yellowstone postfire assessment. [Denver, CO]: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Region. [Pages unknown]. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks. [24521]
  • 18. DeGraaf, Richard M.; Yamasaki, Mariko. 1986. New England wildlife: habitat, natural history, and distribution. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-108. Broomall, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 491 p. [21386]

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Timing of Major Life History Events

More info for the terms: density, litter, monoestrous

Social organization - There is a considerable amount of variability in
coyote social organizations. In many areas, most coyotes are solitary
outside of the breeding season. In other areas, such as Jackson Hole,
Wyoming, and Jasper, Alberta, groups of coyotes are frequently observed.
Coyote social organization is influenced by prey size. In populations
where the major prey items throughout the year are small rodents,
coyotes tend to be solitary. In populations where large animals are
available (e.g., elk [Cervus elaphus], and deer [Odocoileus spp.]),
large groups of coyotes form [12].

Breeding season - Courtship may begin as early as 2 to 3 months before
coyotes attempt to mate. The female is monoestrous, having one period
of heat per year usually between January and March [4,62]. Estrus lasts
2 to 5 days. Some coyotes mate with the same individual from year to
year, but not necessarily for life [4]. In the Sierra Nevada, coyotes
mate from February to May, with peak breeding time in April and May [63].
Yearling females usually breed later in the season than older females
[12].

Age at first breeding - Both males and females are capable of breeding
as yearlings [4]. However, many coyotes do not breed until their second
year [63]. Generally, about 60 to 90 percent of adult females and 0 to
70 percent of female yearlings produce litters [12]. In years when food
is abundant, more females (especially yearlings) breed. In years when
rodent populations are high, as many as 75 percent of yearling females
may breed [4].

Gestation and litter size - Gestation lasts approximately 63 days. The
average litter size is 6, but may range from 3 to 15 [12,63]. Litter
size can be affected by population density and food availability.
Knowlton [36] reported average litter sizes of 4.3 at high coyote
densities and 6.9 at low coyote densities. In years of high rodent
density, mean litter size is generally higher than in years of low
rodent densities [12].

Development of young - Coyote young are born with their eyes closed.
They are cared for by the mother and sometimes siblings from a previous
year. The father and other males often provide food for the mother and
the young. Pups emerge from the den in 2 or 3 weeks. They begin to eat
solid food at about 3 weeks of age and are weaned at about 5 to 7 weeks
of age [4].

Dispersal of juveniles - Juvenile coyotes usually disperse alone or
sometimes in groups at 6 to 9 months of age during October to February.
However, some juveniles do not disperse until their second year.
Juvenile coyotes may disperse up to 100 miles (160 km) from their den
[4]. In Minnesota, Berg and Chesness [7] reported mean dispersal
distances of 30 miles (48 km) that occurred at a mean rate of 7 miles
(11 km) per week [12]. Juvenile dispersal distances averaged 17 to 19
miles (28-31 km) in Alberta [48], 4 miles (7 km) in Arkansas [26], and 3
to 4 miles (5-6 km) in California [32].

Activity and movements - Coyotes are active day and night, with peaks in
activity at sunrise or sunset. Generally, activity and movements such
as foraging are greatest at night. Andelt [1] found that daytime
activity increased during the breeding season. In Arkansas, Gipson and
Sealander [26] found that young were more active than adults during the
day.

Life span - Coyotes in captivity may live as long as 18 years, but in
wild populations few coyotes live more than 6 to 8 years. The maximum
known age for a wild coyote is 14.5 years [4].
  • 1. Andelt, William F. 1985. Behavioral ecology of coyotes in South Texas. Wildlife Monograph 94. Washington, DC: Wildlife Society. 45 p. [25123]
  • 4. Bekoff, Marc. 1977. Canis latrans. Mammalian Species. 79: 1-9. [24979]
  • 7. Berg, W. E.; Chesness, R. A. 1978. Ecology of coyotes in northern Minnesota. In: Bekoff, M., ed. Coyotes: biology, behavior and management. New York: Academic Press: 229-247. [24974]
  • 12. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]
  • 26. Gipson, Philip S.; Sealander, John A. 1972. Home range and activity of the coyote (Canis latrans frustror) in Arkansas. Proceedings, Annual Conference Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners. 26: 82-95. [25125]
  • 32. Hawthorne, Vernon M. 1971. Coyote movements in Sagehen Creek Basin, northeastern California. California Fish and Game. 57(3): 154-161. [25126]
  • 36. Knowlton, Frederick F. 1972. Preliminary interpretations of coyote population mechanics with some management implications. Journal of Wildlife Management. 36(2): 369-382. [25118]
  • 48. Nellis, Carl H.; Keith, Lloyd B. 1976. Population dynamics of coyotes in central Alberta, 1964-68. Journal of Wildlife Management. 40(3): 389-399. [25121]
  • 62. Van Gelden, Richard George. 1982. Mammals of the National Parks. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. 310 p. [20893]
  • 63. Verner, Jared; Boss, Allan S., tech. coords. 1980. California wildlife and their habitats: western Sierra Nevada. Gen. Tech. Rep. PSW-37. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 439 p. [10237]

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Coyotes use their senses of sight, smell, touch and hearing to communicate. They are highly vocal mammals, using 3 distinct calls: squeaks, distress calls, and howl call, which consist of a quick series of yelps, followed by a high-pitched howl. Howling may act to announce where their territory is to other packs. Coyotes also howl when two or more members of a pack re-unite and to announce to each other where they are. Their sense of sight is also well developed and is used primarily to observe the facial expressions and body language of pack members. They use stumps, posts, bushes or rocks as scent posts on which they urinate and defecate to mark territory.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: choruses ; scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Communication and Perception

Coyotes use auditory, visual, olfactory and tactile signals to communicate. They are the most vocal of all North American wild mammals, using 3 distinct calls (squeak, distress call and howl call) which consist of a quick series of yelps, followed by a falsetto howl. Howling may act to announce where territories are to other packs. Coyotes also howl when two or more members of a pack re-unite and to announce to each other their location. Their sight is less developed and is used primarily to note movement. They have acute hearing and sense of smell. They use stumps, posts, bushes or rocks as "scent posts" on which they urinate and defecate, possibly to mark territory. Coyotes are very good swimmers but poor climbers.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: choruses ; scent marks

Perception Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Cyclicity

Comments: Mainly crepuscular and nocturnal, though commonly observed during daylight hours in some areas.

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Coyotes have been known to live a maximum of ten years in the wild and 18 years in captivity.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
10 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
18 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
15.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
14.5 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
21.8 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
21.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
14.5 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
18.0 years.

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Lifespan/Longevity

Coyotes have been known to live a maximum of ten years in the wild and 18 years in captivity.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
10 (high) years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
18 (high) years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
15.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
14.5 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
21.8 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
21.0 years.

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
14.5 years.

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
18.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 21.8 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

Mates in late winter. Gestation lasts 60-65 days. Litter size averages 4-7 in different areas. Young are born March-May. Both parents tend young. Family leaves den when young 8-10 weeks old. Young are on their own by late fall. Sexually mature in 1-2 years. Interbreeds freely with domestic dog.

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Males court females for 2 to 3 months, pairs mate between January and March. Once females choose a partner they typically stay together for a few years.

Mating System: monogamous

Female coyotes are pregnant for 60 to 63 days. An average sized litter is 6 pups, but litter size can range from 1 to 19 pups. When pups are born they are blind, their ears are limp, and they only feed on their mother's milk. After about one month they come out of the den. They are then fed regurgitated food from both parents, as well as their mother's milk. They are weaned at 5 to 7 weeks old. Male pups leave the den when they are 6 to 9 months old, females usually stay with the parents and form a pack. Adult size is reached between 9 and 12 months and they can begin mating when they are one year old. Coyotes can mate with Canis lupus familiaris and occasionally with Canis lupus.

Breeding interval: Coyotes usually breed once each year.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from January to March.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 19.

Average number of offspring: 5.7.

Range gestation period: 50 to 65 days.

Range weaning age: 35 to 49 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 9 to 10 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 9 to 10 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous

Average birth mass: 250 g.

Average number of offspring: 6.

Female coyotes nurture their young inside their bodies until they are born and then afterwards by nursing them. Both male and female coyotes bring food to their young after they are weaned and protect their offspring. The young sometimes stay with the pack into adulthood and learn how to hunt during a learning period.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents; extended period of juvenile learning

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Courtship lasts for approximately 2 to 3 months. Female coyotes are monoestrous and are in heat for 2 to 5 days between late January and late March. Mating occurs within these 3 months. Once the female chooses a partner, the mates may remain paired for a number of years, but not necessarily for life.

Mating System: monogamous

Spermatogenesis in males takes around 54 days and occurs between January and February depending on geographic location. Gestation lasts from 60 to 63 days. Litter size ranges from 1 to 19 pups; the average is 6. The pups weigh approximately 250 grams. The young are born blind, limp-eared and pug-nosed. After 10 days the eyes open, the pups weigh 600 grams and their ears begin to erect in true coyote fashion. Twenty-one to 28 days after birth, the young begin to emerge from the den and by 35 days they are fully weaned. They are fed regurgitated food by both parents. Male pups disperse from the dens between months 6 and 9, while females usually stay with the parents and form the basis of the pack. Adult size is reached between 9 and 12 months. Sexual maturity is reached by 12 months. Coyotes hybridize with domestic dogs and occasionally with gray wolves.

Breeding interval: Coyotes usually breed once each year.

Breeding season: Breeding occurs from January to March.

Range number of offspring: 1 to 19.

Average number of offspring: 5.7.

Range gestation period: 50 to 65 days.

Range weaning age: 35 to 49 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 9 to 10 months.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 9 to 10 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous

Average birth mass: 250 g.

Average number of offspring: 6.

Female coyotes gestate and nurse their young. Both male and female coyotes bring food to their young after they are weaned and protect their offspring. The young sometimes stay with the pack into adulthood and learn how to hunt during a learning period.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents; extended period of juvenile learning

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Canis latrans

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 6 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AACCGATGATTGTTCTCTACTAATCACAAAGATATTGGTACTTTATATCTACTGTTTGGAGCATGAGCCGGCATAGTAGGCACTGCCTTG---AGCCTCCTCATCCGAGCCGAGCTAGGTCAGCCCGGTACTTTACTAGGCGAC---GACCAAATTTATAATGTCGTCGTAACCGCCCATGCTTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTCATAGTCATGCCCATTATAATTGGGGGCTTTGGAAACTGACTGGTGCCATTAATA---ATTGGTGCTCCGGACATGGCATTCCCCCGAATAAATAACATGAGCTTCTGACTTCTTCCTCCATCTTTTCTTCTACTATTAGCATCTTCTATGGTAGAAGCAGGTGCAGGAACGGGATGGACTGTATATCCTCCACTGGCTGGCAATCTGGCCCATGCAGGAGCATCCGTTGATCTT---ACAATTTTCTCCTTACATCTAGCTGGAGTCTCTTCTATTTTAGGGGCAATCAATTTCATCACTACTATTATCAACATAAAACCCCCTGCAATATCCCAGTATCAAACTCCCCTGTTTGTATGATCAGTACTAATTACAGCAGTTCTACTTTTACTATCGCTACCTGTACTGGCTGCT---GGAATTACAATACTTTTAACAGACCGGAATCTTAATACAACATTTTTCGACCCCGCTGGAGGAGGAGACCCTATCTTATATCAACACCTATTCTGATTCTTCGGACATCCTGAAGTTTACATTCTTATCCTGCCCGGATTCGGAATAATTTCTCACATTGTTACTTACTACTCAGGGAAAAAA---GAGCCTTTCGGCTATATAGGAATAGTATGGGCAATAATATCTATTGGGTTTTTAGGCTTTATCGTATGAGCTCACCATATGTTTACCGTAGGAATAGACGTAGACACACGAGCATACTTCACATCCGCCACTATAATTATTGCTATTCCAACAGGAGTAAAAGTATTTAGTTGATTG---GCAACACTTCACGGAGGC---AATATTAAATGGTCTCCAGCCATACTATGAGCTTTAGGGTTTATTTTCTTATTTACAGTAGGCGGGCTAACAGGTATTGTTCTAGCTAATTCGTCCTTAGACATCGTTCTTCATGATACATATTATGTTGTAGCTCACTTTCACTATGTG---CTTTCAATGGGAGCAGTTTTTGCTATCATGGGTGGATTTGCCCACTGATTCCCTTTATTCTCAGGTTATACTCTTAACGATACTTGAGCAAAGATTCACTTTACAATTATGTTTGTGGGAGTAAATATAACTTTCTTCCCTCAGCATTTCCTAGGTTTATCCGGAATGCCTCGT---CGATACTCTGACTATCCAGATGCATATACC---ACCTGAAATACCGTCTCCTCTATAGGATCGTTTATCTCACTTACAGCGGTGATGCTTATAATTTTTATAATCTGAGAAGCCTTTGCATCCAAACGAGAAGTT---GCTATAGTAGAACTCACTACAACTAAC
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Canis latrans

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 5
Specimens with Barcodes: 19
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Gese, E.M., Bekoff, M., Andelt,W., Carbyn, L. & Knowlton, F.

Reviewer/s
Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Hoffmann, M. (Canid Red List Authority)

Contributor/s

Justification
The Coyote has a wide distribution throughout North America, Mexico and into Central America. They are abundant throughout their range and are increasing in distribution as humans continue to modify the landscape. The species is very versatile, especially in their ability to exploit human modified environments.

History
  • 2004
    Least Concern
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Coyotes are common and widespread because of their extraordinary adaptability.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Information on state- and province-level protection status of animals in
the United States and Canada is available at NatureServe, although
recent changes in status may not be included.

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Coyotes are common and widespread because of their extraordinary adaptability.

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
Coyotes are abundant throughout their range and are increasing in distribution as humans continue to modify the landscape. Elimination of wolves may also have assisted Coyote expansion. Coyote density varies geographically with food and climate, and seasonally due to mortality and changes in pack structure and food abundance. Local control temporarily reduces numbers on a short-term basis, but Coyote populations generally are stable in most areas.
Coyote densities in different geographic areas and seasons vary from 0.01–0.09 coyotes/km² in the winter in the Yukon (O'Donoghue et al. 1997) to 0.9/km² in the fall and 2.3/km² during the summer (post-whelping) in Texas (Knowlton 1972, Andelt 1985). Density in different geographic areas and seasons are listed in Sillero-Zubiri (2004).

Population Trend
Increasing
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no current threats to Coyote populations throughout their range. Local reductions are temporary and their range has been expanding. Conservation measures have not been needed to maintain viable populations. Coyotes adapt to human environs and occupy most habitats, including urban areas. Hybridization with dogs may be a threat near urban areas. Genetic contamination between dogs, Coyotes, and Grey Wolves may be occurring in north-eastern U.S. Hybridization between Coyotes and Red Wolves is problematic for Red Wolf recovery in south-eastern U.S.

Coyote fur is still sought by trappers throughout its range, with harvest levels depending upon fur prices, local and state regulations, and traditional uses and practices. Many states and provinces consider Coyotes a furbearing species with varying regulations on method of take, bag limit, and seasons.
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Management

Management Requirements: In July 1985, the U.S. EPA registered Compound 1080 for use in Livestock Protection Collars (LPCs) for controlling coyote predation on sheep and goats; experimental data indicate that consuming carcasses of coyotes killed by LPCs poses little if any hazard to golden eagles or stiped skunks (Burns et al. 1991).

In western Texas, intensive coyote control resulted in a decline in rodent species richness and diversity (Henke and Bryant 1992).

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Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
The species is not included on the CITES Appendices, and there is no legal protection of the species. Restrictions on harvest and method of harvest depend upon state or provincial regulations.

The Coyote occurs in almost all protected areas across its range.

Occurrence in captivity
Over 2,000 Coyotes occur in captivity in zoos, wildlife centres, etc., throughout their range. They readily reproduce in captivity and survival is high.

Gaps in knowledge
Several gaps in knowledge still remain: coyote reproductive physiology and possible modes of fertility control; selective management of problem animals; effects of control; genetic differentiation from other canids (particularly the red wolf); development of non-lethal depredation techniques; interactions of coyotes and other predators; coyote-prey interactions; human-coyote interactions and conflicts at the urban interface; factors influencing prey selection; communication; adaptations in urban and rural environments; and interactions with threatened and endangered species.
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Management Considerations

More info for the term: competition

Coyotes are the principal predator of domestic sheep in the West [44].
Predation on sheep often occurs in the summer [64]. In 16 studies
reviewed by Sterner and Shumake [60], coyotes were responsible for 82
percent of all sheep losses due to predators. However, only a few
flocks typically showed sizeable losses [12]. Coyote predation is a
minor cause of most livestock losses. Most of the livestock consumed,
except sheep, is carrion [64].

Methods of coyote control have been described in the literature
[1,4,12,64]. The impact of predator control on coyote population
densities, behavior, and ecology are not well known. Coyote populations
are able to maintain themselves under considerable human-induced
mortality. Their means of survival include behavioral adaptations and
biological compensatory mechanisms such as increased rates of
reproduction, survival, and immigration. In most areas, coyote numbers
likely are controlled by competition for food and by social stress,
diseases, and parasites [1]. There is little evidence to support the
notion that coyote predation is a primary limiting factor on populations
of large ungulates [12].

Coyote population control efforts may affect the social organization and
activity patterns of coyotes. In areas where population control is not
practiced, most coyotes exist in relatively "large" groups, whereas
coyotes in areas where populations are controlled generally exist in
"smaller" groups. Coyotes have been reported as more active during the
day in uncontrolled [26,70] than in population-controlled areas [71]. Roy
and Dorrance [72] reported that coyotes avoided open areas near roads
during daylight hours in areas where they were hunted.

Coyotes often aid in the dispersal of seeds. Seeds of oneseed juniper
(Juniperus monosperma) and Indian manzanita (Arctostaphylos mewukka)
have been found in coyote scats [24,31].

Coyotes are inflicted with a wide variety of parasites and diseases
which are described by Gier and others [28].
  • 1. Andelt, William F. 1985. Behavioral ecology of coyotes in South Texas. Wildlife Monograph 94. Washington, DC: Wildlife Society. 45 p. [25123]
  • 4. Bekoff, Marc. 1977. Canis latrans. Mammalian Species. 79: 1-9. [24979]
  • 12. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]
  • 26. Gipson, Philip S.; Sealander, John A. 1972. Home range and activity of the coyote (Canis latrans frustror) in Arkansas. Proceedings, Annual Conference Southeastern Association of Game and Fish Commissioners. 26: 82-95. [25125]
  • 44. McAdoo, J. Kent; Klebenow, Donald A. 1979. Native faunal relationships in sagebrush ecosystems. In: The sagebrush ecosystem: a symposium: Proceedings; 1978 April; Logan, UT. Logan, UT: Utah State University, College of Natural Resources: 50-61. [1562]
  • 24. Germano, David Joseph. 1978. Response of selected wildlife to mesquite removal in desert grassland. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona. 60 p. M.S. thesis. [10532]
  • 28. Gier, H. T.; Kruckengerg, S. M.; Marler, R. J. 1978. Parasites and diseases of coyotes. In: Bekoff, M. W., ed. Coyotes: biology , behavior and management. New York: Academic Press: 37-71. [24977]
  • 31. Kauffman, J. Boone; Martin, R. E. 1991. Factors influencing the scarification and germination of three montane Sierra Nevada shrubs. Northwest Science. 65(4): 180-187. [16344]
  • 60. Stenner, R. T.; Shumake, S. A. 1978. Coyote damage-control research: a review and analysis. In: Beckoff, M., ed. Coyotes: biology, behavior and management. New York: Academic Press: 297-325. [24975]
  • 70. Andelt, William F.; Gipson, Philip S. 1979. Domestic turkey losses to radio-tagged coyotes. Journal of Wildlife Management. 43(3): 673-679. [25120]
  • 71. Roy, Laurence D.; Dorrance, Michael J. 1985. Coyote movements, habitat use, and vulnerability in central Alberta. Journal of Wildlife Management. 49(2): 307-313. [25119]
  • 64. Voigt, Dennis R.; Berg, William E. 1987. Coyote. In: Novak, M.; Baker, J. A.; Obbard, M. E.; Malloch, B., ed. Wild furbearer management and conservation in North America. [Place of publication unknown]: [Publisher unknown]. 344-357. [24980]

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Use of Fire in Population Management

Prescribed burning that favors small mammals by creating ecotones and
different age classes of vegetation would increase the prey base for
coyotes and make hunting easier by opening up the habitat [51].
  • 51. Quinn, Ronald D. 1990. Habitat preferences and distribution of mammals in California chaparral. Res. Pap. PSW-202. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station. 11 p. [15761]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Comments: Hunted for sport and for pelt (which in Oklahoma in early 1980s yielded about $20 per pelt) (Caire et al. 1989). Regarded as a pest at certain times in some areas due to occasional predation on deer, poultry, or livestock; occurs especially during denning season.

Rarely has attacked humans in western North America (usually in situations where coyotes have become habituated to humans; Carbyn 1989).

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Coyotes serves as hosts for a number of diseases, including rabies. They are considered a threat to poultry, livestock, and crops. Coyotes may also compete with hunters for deer, rabbits, and other game species.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease); causes or carries domestic animal disease

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Coyotes help to control some agricultural pests, such as rodents. Coyote pelts are also still collected and sold in some areas.

Positive Impacts: body parts are source of valuable material; controls pest population

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Coyotes serves as hosts for a number of diseases, including rabies. They are considered a threat to poultry, livestock, and crops. Coyotes may also compete with hunters for deer, rabbits, and other game species.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease); causes or carries domestic animal disease

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Coyotes help to control some agricultural pests, such as rodents. Coyote pelts are also still collected and sold in some areas.

Positive Impacts: body parts are source of valuable material; controls pest population

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Risks

Species Impact: In Quebec, an expanding coyote population threatened a remnant caribou herd (Crete and Desrosiers 1995). In California, coyotes can have a significant impact on kit fox populations (Ralls and White 1995).

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Wikipedia

Coyote

For other uses, see Coyote (disambiguation).

The coyote (US /kˈt/ or /ˈk.t/, UK /kɔɪˈjt/, or /kɔɪˈjt/;[2] Canis latrans), also known as the American jackal, brush wolf, or the prairie wolf, is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States, and Canada. It occurs as far north as Alaska and all but the northernmost portions of Canada.[3] Currently, 19 subspecies are recognized.[4]

The coyote evolved in North America during the Pleistocene epoch 1.8 million years ago (mya),[5] alongside the now extinct dire wolf.[6] It fills roughly the same ecological niche in the Americas that is filled in Eurasia and Africa by the similarly sized canids called jackals, among which the coyote is sometimes counted. Its closest living relative is however the gray wolf, which affects coyote populations both by harsh intraguild predation and occasional interbreeding; the eastern coyote (Canis latrans var.) contains significant percentages of Canis lupus lycaon ancestry.[7] Unlike the wolves in North America, the coyote's range has expanded in the wake of human civilization, and coyotes readily reproduce in metropolitan areas.[8][9]

Name[edit]

The name "coyote" is borrowed from Mexican Spanish coyote, ultimately derived from the Nahuatl word cóyotl, meaning "trickster".[10] Its scientific name, Canis latrans, means "barking dog" in Latin.[11]

Description[edit]

Skeleton of Pleistocene coyote (C. l. orcutti).
Coyote profile
Skull

The color of the coyote's pelt varies from grayish-brown to yellowish-gray on the upper parts, while the throat and belly tend to have a buff or white color. The forelegs, sides of the head, muzzle and paws are reddish-brown. The back has tawny-colored underfur and long, black-tipped guard hairs that form a black dorsal stripe and a dark cross on the shoulder area. The black-tipped tail has a scent gland located on its dorsal base. Coyotes shed once a year, beginning in May with light hair loss, ending in July after heavy shedding. The ears are proportionately large in relation to the head, while the feet are relatively small in relation to the rest of the body.[3] Certain experts have noted the shape of a domestic dog's brain case is closer to the coyote's in shape than that of a wolf's. Mountain-dwelling coyotes tend to be dark-furred, while desert coyotes tend to be more light brown in color.[4]

Coyotes typically grow to 30–34 in (76–86 cm) in length, not counting a tail of 12–16 in (30–41 cm), stand about 23–26 in (58–66 cm) at the shoulder and weigh from 15–46 lb (6.8–20.9 kg).[3][12] Northern coyotes are typically larger than southern subspecies, with the largest coyotes on record weighing 74.75 pounds (33.91 kg) and measuring 1.75 m (5.7 ft) in total length.[13][14]

The coyote's dental formula is I 3/3, C 1/1, Pm 4/4, M usually 2/2, occasionally 3/3, 3/2, or 2/3 × 2 = 40, 44, or 42[15] Normal spacing between the upper canine teeth is 29–35 mm (1.1–1.4 in) and 25–32 mm (0.98–1.26 in) between the lower canine teeth.[16]

Dentition
3,1,4,2
3,1,4,2

The upper frequency limit of hearing for coyotes is 80 kHz, compared to the 60 kHz of domestic dogs.[17] Comparable to wolves, and similar to domestic dogs, coyotes have a higher density of sweat glands on their paw pads. This trait, however, is absent in the large New England coyotes, which are thought to have some wolf ancestry.[18]

During pursuit, a coyote may reach speeds up to 43 mph (69 km/h)[19] making it one of the fastest terrestrial mammals in North America,[20] and can jump a distance of over 13 ft (4 m).[3]

Behavior[edit]

Though coyotes have been observed to travel in large groups, they primarily hunt in pairs.[citation needed] Typical packs consist of six closely related adults, yearlings and young. Coyote packs are generally smaller than wolf packs, and associations between individuals are less stable,[21] thus making their social behavior more in line with that of the dingo.[22] In theory, this is due to an earlier expression of aggression, and the fact that coyotes reach their full growth in their first year, unlike wolves, which reach it in their second.[21] Common names of coyote groups are a band, a pack, or a rout.[23] Coyotes are primarily nocturnal,[24][25] but can often be seen during daylight hours.[3] They were once essentially diurnal, but have adapted to more nocturnal behavior with pressure from humans.[26]

Coyotes are capable of digging their own burrows, though they often prefer the burrows of groundhogs or American badgers. Their territorial ranges can be as much as 19 km in diameter around the den, and travel occurs along fixed trails.[3] Like other canids, coyotes mark their territories with urine.[27][28][29]

In areas where wolves have been exterminated, coyotes usually flourish. For example, as New England became increasingly settled and the resident wolves were eliminated, the coyote population increased, filling the empty ecological niche. Coyotes appear better able than wolves to live among people.[30]

Coyotes have been known to live a maximum of 18 years in captivity;[3] the maximum longevity in the wild is 14 1/2 years.[31] They seem to be better than dogs at observational learning.[18]

Reproduction[edit]

Newborn coyote pup
Seven coyote pups

Female coyotes are monoestrous, and remain in estrus for two to five days between late January and early March, during which mating occurs. Once the female chooses a partner, the mated pair may remain temporarily monogamous for a number of years. Coyotes also practice alloparental care, in which a coyote pair adopts the pup or pups of another pair. This might take place if the original parents die or are for some reason separated from them. This behavior is common and is seen in many other animal species.[32] During copulation, a copulatory tie is formed.[33] Depending on geographic location, spermatogenesis in males takes around 54 days, and occurs between January and February. The gestation period lasts from 60 to 63 days. Litter size ranges from one to 19 pups; the average is six.[3] These large litters act as compensatory measures against the high juvenile mortality rate – about 50–70% of pups do not survive to adulthood.[34] The pups weigh approximately 250 grams at birth, and are initially blind and limp-eared.[3] Coyote growth rate is faster than that of wolves, being similar in length to that of the dhole.[35] The eyes open and ears become erect after 10 days. Around 21–28 days after birth, the young begin to emerge from the den, and by 35 days, they are fully weaned. Both parents feed the weaned pups with regurgitated food. Male pups will disperse from their dens between months 6 and 9, while females usually remain with the parents and form the basis of the pack. The pups attain full growth between 9 and 12 months old. Sexual maturity is reached by 12 months.[3] Unlike wolves, mother coyotes will tolerate other lactating females in their pack.[36]

Interspecific hybridization[edit]

Main article: Canid hybrids

Coyotes will sometimes mate with domestic dogs, usually in areas such as Texas and Oklahoma, where the coyotes are plentiful and the breeding season is extended because of the warm weather. The resulting hybrids, called coydogs, maintain the coyote's predatory nature, along with the dog's lack of timidity toward humans, making them a more serious threat to livestock than pure-blooded animals. This crossbreeding has the added effect of confusing the breeding cycle. Coyotes usually breed only once a year, while coydogs will breed year-round, producing many more pups than a wild coyote. Differences in the ears and tail generally can be used to distinguish coydogs from domestic or feral dogs or pure coyotes.[37] Breeding experiments in Germany with poodles, coyotes, and later on with the resulting dog-coyote hybrids showed that, unlike wolfdogs, coydogs exhibit a decrease in fertility, significant communication problems, and an increase of genetic diseases after three generations of interbreeding.[38]

Coyotes have also been known, on occasion, to mate with wolves, mostly with eastern subspecies of the grey wolf such as the Great Plains Wolf, though this is less common than with dogs, due to the wolf's hostility to the coyote. The offspring, known as a coywolf, is generally intermediate in size to both parents, being larger than a pure coyote, but smaller than a pure wolf. A study showed that of 100 "coyotes" collected in Maine, 22 had half or more grey wolf ancestry, and one was 89% grey wolf. The large eastern coyotes in Canada are proposed to be actually hybrids of the smaller western coyotes and grey wolves that met and mated decades ago, as the coyotes moved toward New England from their earlier western ranges.[30] Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources research scientist Brent Patterson has revealed findings that most coyotes in Eastern Ontario are wolf-coyote hybrids and that the Eastern wolves in Algonquin Park are, in general, not interbreeding with coyotes.[39]

Similarly, on a population level, Roland Kays, curator of mammals at the State Museum of New York has obtained preliminary DNA evidence for eastern coyotes suggesting interbreeding and a genetic makeup of 85 to 90% coyote, perhaps 10% wolf and slightly less than 5% dog—"a giant Canis soupus", in his words.[40]

The red wolf is thought by some researchers to be in fact a wolf/coyote hybrid rather than a unique species. Strong evidence for hybridization was found through genetic testing, which showed red wolves have only 5% of their alleles unique from either gray wolves or coyotes. Genetic distance calculations have indicated red wolves are intermediate between coyotes and gray wolves, and they bear great similarity to wolf/coyote hybrids in southern Quebec and Minnesota. Analyses of mitochondrial DNA showed the existing red wolf populations are predominantly coyote in origin.[41]

Coyote-Wolf hybrids continue to expand in numbers, and are now being found from Canada all the way down to Virginia.[42]

In an evolutionary biology research conducted by a team of researchers in the Uppsala University, analysis of control region haplotypes of the mitochondrial DNA and sex chromosomes from Mexican grey wolves, a critically endangered subspecies of the grey wolf once nearly driven to extinction in the wild, confirmed the presence of coyote markers in some of the wolves.[43] The study suggests that at some point in time, female coyotes in the south managed to mate with some of the male wolves of the remnant wild Mexican grey wolf populations with the female hybrids backcrossing with other male wolves. Analysis on the haplotype of some coyotes from Texas also detected the presence of male wolf introgression such as Y chromosomes from the grey wolves in the southern coyotes. In one cryptology investigation on a corpse of what was initially labelled as a chupacabra, examinations conducted by the UC Davis team and the Texas State University concluded based on analysis of the mitochondrial and the sex chromosomes that the male animal was in fact another coyote and wolf hybrid sired by a male Mexican wolf.[44]

Communication[edit]

The calls a coyote makes are high-pitched and variously described as howls, yips, yelps, and barks. These calls may be a long rising and falling note (a howl) or a series of short notes (yips). These calls are most often heard at dusk or night, but may sometimes be heard in the day, even in the middle of the day. Although these calls are made throughout the year, they are most common during the spring mating season and in the fall when the pups leave their families to establish new territories. When a coyote calls its pack together, it howls at one high note. When the pack is together, it howls higher and higher, and then it will yip and yelp and also do a yi-yi sound, very shrill, with the howl.

Ecology[edit]

Diet and hunting[edit]

Coyote feeding on elk carcass in winter in Lamar Valley

Sometimes labelled as carnivores but more often as omnivores, coyotes are opportunistic, versatile feeders. They eat small mammals such as (depending on the region in which it lives) voles, prairie dogs, eastern cottontails, ground squirrels, mice, birds, snakes, lizards, deer, javelina, and livestock, as well as insects and other invertebrates. The coyote will also target any species of bird that nests on the ground. They will eat carrion, but tend to prefer fresh meat. Fruits and vegetables can form a significant part of the coyote's diet in the summer and autumn. Part of the coyote's success as a species is its dietary adaptability. As such, coyotes have been known to eat human rubbish and domestic pets. Urban populations of coyotes have been known to actively hunt cats, and to leap shorter fences to take small dogs.[citation needed] In particularly bold urban packs, coyotes have also been reported to shadow human joggers or larger dogs, and even to take small dogs while the dog is still on a leash.[citation needed] This behavior is often reported when normal urban prey, such as brown rats, black rats and rabbits, has become scarce. Confirmed reports of coyotes killing a human have been documented.[45] A 2011 trail camera video uncovered two or three coyotes killing a large deer.[46]

Though the coyote is the basis for the character of Wile E. Coyote in the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies animated cartoons, especially about the Road Runner, coyotes have not been known as yet to successfully attack greater roadrunners for prey.

Coyotes shift their hunting techniques in accordance with their prey. When hunting small animals such as mice, they slowly stalk through the grass, and use their acute sense of smell to track down the prey. When the prey is located, the coyotes stiffen and pounce on the prey in a cat-like manner. They will commonly work in teams when hunting large ungulates such as deer, which is more common in winter (when large prey is likely weakened) and in larger-bodied northern coyotes. Coyotes may take turns in baiting and pursuing the deer to exhaustion, or they may drive it towards a hidden member of the pack.[3] When attacking large prey, coyotes attack from the rear and the flanks of their prey. Occasionally, they also grab the neck and head, pulling the animal down to the ground. Coyotes are persistent hunters, with successful attacks sometimes lasting as long as 21 hours; even unsuccessful ones can continue more than eight hours before the coyotes give up. Depth of snow can affect the likelihood of a successful kill.[47] Packs of coyotes can bring down prey as large as adult elk, which often weigh over 250 kg (550 lbs) or more than 15 times the weight of a fairly large coyote.[48]

The average distance covered in a night's hunting is 2.5 mi (4.0 km).[3]

Interspecific predatory relationships[edit]

Rolf Peterson investigating the carcass of a coyote killed by a wolf in Yellowstone National Park, January 1996

The gray wolf is a significant predator of coyotes wherever their ranges overlap. Since the Yellowstone gray wolf reintroduction in 1995 and 1996, the local coyote population went through a dramatic restructuring. Until the wolves returned, Yellowstone National Park had one of the densest and most stable coyote populations in America due to a lack of human impacts. Two years after the wolf reintroductions, the population of coyotes had been reduced 50% through both competitive exclusion and intraguild predation compared to before their reintroduction. In Grand Teton, coyote densities were 33% lower than normal in the areas where they coexisted with wolves, and 39% lower in the areas of Yellowstone where wolves were reintroduced. In one study, about 16% of radio-collared coyotes were preyed upon by wolves. Yellowstone coyotes have had to shift their territories as a result, moving from open meadows to steep terrain. Carcasses in the open no longer attract coyotes; when a coyote is chased on flat terrain, it is often killed. They feel more secure on steep terrain, where they will often lead a pursuing wolf downhill. As the wolf comes after it, the coyote will turn around and run uphill. Wolves, being heavier, cannot stop and the coyote gains a large lead. Though physical confrontations between the two species are usually dominated by the larger wolves, coyotes have been known to attack wolves if they outnumber them. Both species will kill each other's pups, given the opportunity.[49][50] Wolf urine has been marketed and claimed to be an organic coyote deterrent, such as for deterring attacks on sheep.[51]

Cougars sometimes kill coyotes. The coyote's instinctive fear of cougars has led to the development of sound systems which repel coyotes from public places by replicating the sounds of a cougar.[52] Rarely, bears can also kill coyotes, more likely in competitive rather than predatory attacks. However, both cougars and bears have been displaced from carcasses by coyote packs.[53]

In sympatric populations of coyotes and red foxes, fox territories tend to be located largely outside of coyote territories. The principal cause of this separation is believed to be active avoidance of coyotes by the foxes. Interactions between the two species vary in nature, ranging from active antagonism to indifference. The majority of aggressive encounters are initiated by coyotes, and there are few reports of red foxes acting aggressively toward coyotes except when attacked or when their pups were approached. Conversely, foxes and coyotes have sometimes been seen feeding together.[54] In southern California, coyotes frequently kill gray foxes, and these smaller canids tend to avoid areas with high coyote densities.[55]

Coyotes will sometimes form a symbiotic relationship with American badgers. Because coyotes are not very effective at digging rodents out of their burrows, they will chase the animals while they are above ground. Badgers, on the other hand, are not fast runners, but are well-adapted to digging. When hunting together, they effectively leave little escape for prey in the area.[3]

In some areas, coyotes share their ranges with bobcats. It is rare for these two similarly sized species to physically confront one another, though bobcat populations tend to diminish in areas with high coyote densities.[56] However, several studies have demonstrated interference competition between coyotes and bobcats, and in all cases coyotes dominated the interaction.[57] Multiple researchers[55][58][59][60][61][62] all reported instances of coyotes killing bobcats, whereas bobcats killing coyotes is more rare.[57] Coyotes attack bobcats using a bite-and-shake method similar to that used on medium-sized prey. Coyotes (both single individuals and groups) have been known to occasionally kill bobcats – in most cases, the bobcats were relatively small specimens, such as adult females and juveniles.[63] However, coyote attacks (by an unknown number of coyotes) on adult male bobcats have occurred. In California, coyote and bobcat populations are not negatively correlated across different habitat types, but predation by coyotes is an important source of mortality in bobcats.[55]

Coyotes have also competed with and occasionally eaten Canada lynxes in areas where both species overlap.[57][64]

Relationship with humans[edit]

Coexistence with humans[edit]

A coyote standing by a road in Arizona
Further information: Urban coyote

Despite being extensively hunted, the coyote is one of the few medium- to large-sized animals that has enlarged its range since human encroachment began. It originally ranged primarily in the western half of North America, but it has adapted readily to the changes caused by human presence and, since the early 19th century, has been steadily extending its range.[65] Sightings now commonly occur in a majority of the United States and Canada.[66] Coyotes inhabit nearly every contiguous U.S. state and Alaska. They have moved into most of the areas of North America formerly occupied by wolves, and are often observed foraging in suburban garbage bins.

Coyotes are difficult to tame, except when raised from a very young age, and even then, much of their wild temperament shows when they reach puberty. Coyotes have never been domesticated with the possible exception of the Hare Indian dogs, which may have been domesticated coyotes or dog-coyote hybrids, used by the Hare Native American tribe of northern Canada for hunting. Naturalist John Richardson, who studied the breed in the 1820s, before it was diluted by crossings with other breeds, could detect no decided difference in form between the breed and coyotes, and surmised it was a domesticated version of the wild animal.[67][68][69]

Attacks on humans[edit]

A sign discouraging people from feeding coyotes, which can lead to them habituating themselves to human presence, thus increasing the likelihood of attack

Coyote attacks on humans are uncommon and rarely cause serious injuries, due to the relatively small size of the coyote, but have been increasingly frequent, especially in the state of California. In the 30 years leading up to March 2006, at least 160 attacks occurred in the United States, mostly in the Los Angeles County area.[70] Data from USDA Wildlife Services, the California Department of Fish and Game, and other sources show that while 41 attacks occurred during the period of 1988–1997, 48 attacks were verified from 1998 through 2003. The majority of these incidents occurred in Southern California near the suburban-wildland interface.[71]

In the absence of the harassment of coyotes practiced by rural people[citation needed], urban coyotes are losing their fear of humans, which is further worsened by people intentionally or unintentionally feeding coyotes. In such situations, some coyotes have begun to act aggressively toward humans, chasing joggers and bicyclists, confronting people walking their dogs, and stalking small children.[71] Non rabid coyotes in these areas will sometimes target small children, mostly under the age of 10, though some adults have been bitten.

Although media reports of such attacks generally identify the animals in question as simply "coyotes," research into the genetics of the eastern coyote indicates those involved in attacks in northeast North America, including Pennsylvania, New York, New England, and eastern Canada, may have actually been coywolves, hybrids of Canis latrans and Canis lupus, not fully coyotes.[72]

Livestock and pet predation[edit]

Coyote confronting a dog

Coyotes are presently the most abundant livestock predators in western North America, causing the majority of sheep, goat and cattle losses.[16] For example, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, coyotes were responsible for 60.5% of the 224,000 sheep deaths attributed to predation in 2004.[73] The total number of sheep deaths in 2004 comprised 2.22% of the total sheep and lamb population in the United States.[74] According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service USDA report, "All sheep and lamb inventory in the United States on July 1, 2005, totaled 7.80 million head, 2% above July 1, 2004. Breeding sheep inventory at 4.66 million head on July 1, 2005 was 2% above July 1, 2004."[75] Because coyote populations are typically many times greater and more widely distributed than those of wolves, coyotes cause more overall predation losses. However, an Idaho census taken in 2005 showed that individual coyotes were one-twentieth as likely to attack livestock than individual wolves.[76]

Livestock guardian dogs are commonly used to aggressively repel predators and have worked well in both fenced pasture and range operations. A 1986 survey of sheep producers in the USA found that 82% reported the use of dogs represented an economic asset.[77][78]

Coyotes will typically bite the throat just behind the jaw and below the ear when attacking adult sheep or goats, with death commonly resulting from suffocation. Blood loss is usually a secondary cause of death. Calves and heavily fleeced sheep are killed by attacking the flanks or hindquarters, causing shock and blood loss. When attacking smaller prey, such as young lambs, the kill is made by biting the skull and spinal regions, causing massive tissue and bone damage. Small or young prey may be completely carried off, leaving only blood as evidence of a kill. Coyotes will usually leave the hide and most of the skeleton of larger animals relatively intact, unless food is scarce, in which case they may leave only the largest bones. Scattered bits of wool, skin and other parts are characteristic where coyotes feed extensively on larger carcasses.[16]

Coyote with a typical throat hold on domestic sheep

Coyote predation can usually be distinguished from dog or coydog predation by the fact that coyotes partially consume their victims. Tracks are also an important factor in distinguishing coyote from dog predation. Coyote tracks tend to be more oval-shaped and compact than those of domestic dogs, and their claw marks are less prominent and the tracks tend to follow a straight line more closely than those of dogs. With the exception of sighthounds, most dogs of similar weight to coyotes have a slightly shorter stride.[16] Coyote kills can be distinguished from wolf kills by the fact that there is less damage to the underlying tissues. Also, coyote scats tend to be smaller than wolf scats.[79]

The U.S. government routinely shoots, poisons, traps and kills about 90,000 coyotes each year to protect livestock.[80]

Coyotes are often attracted to dog food and animals that are small enough to appear as prey. Items such as garbage, pet food, and sometimes feeding stations for birds and squirrels will attract coyotes into backyards. About three to five pets attacked by coyotes are brought into the Animal Urgent Care hospital of south Orange County (California) each week, the majority of which are dogs, since cats typically do not survive the attacks.[81] Scat analysis collected near Claremont, California revealed that coyotes relied heavily on pets as a food source in winter and spring.[71] At one location in Southern California, coyotes began relying on a colony of feral cats as a food source. Over time, the coyotes killed most of the cats, and then continued to eat the cat food placed daily at the colony site by people who were maintaining the cat colony.[71] Coyotes usually attack smaller-sized dogs, but they have been known to attack even large, powerful breeds such as the Rottweiler in exceptional cases.[82] Dogs larger than coyotes are generally able to drive them off, and have been known to kill coyotes. Smaller breeds are more likely to suffer injury or death.

Pelts[edit]

In the early days of European settlement in North Dakota, American beavers were the most valued and sought after furbearers, though other species were also taken, including coyotes.[83] Coyotes are an important furbearer in the region. During the 1983–86 seasons, North Dakota buyers purchased an average of 7,913 pelts annually, for an average annual combined return to takers of $255,458. In 1986–87, South Dakota buyers purchased 8,149 pelts for a total of $349,674 to takers.[84]

The harvest of coyote pelts in Texas has varied over the past few decades, but has generally followed a downward trend. A study from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, however, found there was no indication of population decline, and suggested, as pelt prices were not increasing, the decrease in harvest was likely due to decreasing demand, and not increasing scarcity (where pelt prices would go up). It suggested fashion, and the changing custom of wearing fur garments, may be significant among these factors.[85]

Today, coyote fur is still used for full coats and trim and is particularly popular for men’s coats.[86]

Character in mythology[edit]

Coyote tries to persuade Opossum to let him have some persimmons, in a Caddo story.
Main article: Coyote (mythology)

Traditional stories from many Native American, First Nations, and Aboriginal cultures include a deity whose name is translated into English as "Coyote". Although especially common in stories told by southwestern Native American nations, such as the Diné and Apache, stories about Coyote appear in dozens of Native American nations from Canada to Mexico.

Usually appearing as a trickster, a culture hero or both, Coyote also often appears in creation myths and etiological myths. Although often appearing in stories as male, Coyote can be female, hermaphrodite, or gender changing, in traditional Aboriginal stories.

Contemporary cultural references[edit]

The coyote is a popular figure in folklore and popular culture. References may invoke either the animal or the mythological figure. Traits commonly described in pop culture appearances include inventiveness, mischievousness, and evasiveness. By far, the best known representation is the animated Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius, from the Road Runner cartoons, whose popularity has spread the three-syllable Spanish pronunciation of the word coyote throughout English-speaking North America.

Coyote is a slang term for a person who smuggles immigrants over the border from Mexico to the United States.

The Phoenix Coyotes are a National Hockey League franchise based in Arizona.

Teams at the University of South Dakota and the College of Idaho are "Coyotes".

The NBA San Antonio Spurs mascot is "The Coyote", as well.

The Daily Coyote is a blog documenting the life of Charlie, a coyote domestically raised since he was a pup.[87]

Taxonomy[edit]

Subspecies[edit]

Distribution of the known subspecies of coyote

The 19 recognized subspecies of coyote are (numbering refers to the distribution map on the right):[88]

  1. C. l. cagottis (Hamilton-Smith): Mexican coyote – states of Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Puebla, and Veracruz in Mexico[89]
  2. C. l. clepticus (Elliot): San Pedro Martir coyote – northern Baja California and southwestern California[89]
  3. C. l. dickeyi: Salvador coyote
  4. C. l. frustor (Woodhouse): Southeastern coyote – southeastern and extreme eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Arkansas[89]
  5. C. l. goldmani: Belize coyote
  6. C. l. hondurensis: Honduras coyote
  7. C. l. impavidus (Allen): Durango coyote – southern Sonora, extreme southwestern Chihuahua, western Durango, western Zacatecas, and Sinaloa[89]
  8. C. l. incolatus (Hall): Northern Coyote – Yukon, Northwest Territories, northern British Columbia, and northern Alberta, and Alaska[89]
  9. C. l. jamesi (Townsend): Tiburón Island coyote – Tiburón Island[89]
  10. C. l. latrans: Plains coyote – Great Plains from Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan south to New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle[89]
  11. C. l. lestes (Merriam): Mountain coyote – British Columbia and southeastern Alberta south to Utah and Nevada[89]
  12. C. l. mearnsi (Merriam): Mearns coyote – southwestern Colorado and southern Utah south to northern Sonora and Chihuahua[89]
  13. C. l. microdon (Merriam): Lower Rio Grande coyote – southern Texas and northern Tamaulipas[89]
  14. C. l. ochropus (Eschscholtz): California Valley coyote – California west of the Sierra Nevada[89]
  15. C. l. peninsulae (Merriam): Peninsula coyote – Baja California[89]
  16. C. l. texensis (Bailey): Texas Plains coyote – most of Texas, eastern New Mexico, and northeastern Mexico[89]
  17. C. l. thamnos (Jackson): Northeastern coyote – range extends from north-central Saskatchewan east to southern Ontario, south to northern Indiana and west to Missouri[89]
  18. C. l. umpquensis (Jackson): Northwest Coast coyote – coast of Washington and Oregon[89]
  19. C. l. vigilis (Merriam): Colima coyote – Pacific coast of Mexico from Jalisco south to Guerrero[89]
  20. Canis latrans "var"

Genus controversy[edit]

In 1816, in the third volume of Lorenz Oken's Lehrbuch der Naturgeschichte, the author found sufficient similarities in the dentition of coyotes and jackals to place these species into a new separate genus from Canis called Thos after the classical Greek word θώς (jackal). Oken's idiosyncratic nomenclatorial ways, however, aroused the scorn of a number of zoological systematists. Nearly all the descriptive words used to justify the genus division were relative terms without a reference measure, and the argument did not take into account the size differences between the species, which can be considerable. Angel Cabrera, in his 1932 monograph on the mammals of Morocco, briefly touched upon the question of whether or not the presence of a cingulum on the upper molars of the jackals and its corresponding absence in the rest of Canis could justify a subdivision of the genus Canis. In practice, he chose the undivided-genus alternative and referred to the jackals as Canis.[90] A few authors, however, Ernest Thompson Seton being among them, accepted Oken's nomenclature, and went as far as referring to the coyote as American jackal.[91]

The Oken/Heller proposal of the new genus Thos did not affect the classification of the coyote. Gerrit S. Miller still had in his 1924 edition of List of North American Recent Mammals in the section “Genus Canis Linnaeas,” the subordinate heading “Subgenus Thos Oken” and backed it up with a reference to Heller. In the reworked version of the book in 1955, Philip Hershkovitz and Hartley Jackson led him to drop Thos both as an available scientific term and as a viable subgenus of Canis. In his definitive study of the taxonomy of the coyote, Jackson had, in response to Miller, queried whether Heller had seriously looked at specimens of coyotes prior to his 1914 article, and thought the characters to be “not sufficiently important or stable to warrant subgeneric recognition for the group”.[90]

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  70. ^ Dell'Amore, Christine (March 2006). "City Slinkers". Smithsonian. Smithsonian. Retrieved June 14, 2012. 
  71. ^ a b c d "Coyote Attacks: An Increasing Suburban Problem". Archived from the original on September 26, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007. 
  72. ^ Roland Kays1,*, Abigail Curtis1,2 and Jeremy J. Kirchman1. "Rapid adaptive evolution of northeastern coyotes via hybridization with wolves". Rsbl.royalsocietypublishing.org. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  73. ^ Sheep and Goats Death Loss. National Agricultural Statistics Service. May 6, 2005. Retrieved December 27, 2007. 
  74. ^ National Agricultural Statistics Service
  75. ^ "Sheep and lamb inventory". usda.mannlib.cornell.edu. Retrieved February 1, 2010. 
  76. ^ Relative risks of predation on livestock posed by individual wolves, black bears, mountain lions and coyotes in Idaho, Mark Collinge, United States Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, Boise, Idaho
  77. ^ "Livestock Guarding Dogs". Agricultural Information Bulletin 588. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  78. ^ "LIVESTOCK GUARDING DOG FACT SHEET". Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service U.S. Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 3 April 2012. 
  79. ^ Ranchers' Guide to Wolf Depredation, Montana State University
  80. ^ "Controlling wily coyotes? Still no easy answers". MSNBC. 2009-12-07. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  81. ^ "For coyotes, pets are prey". Greg Hardesty. Orange County Register. Retrieved August 19, 2007. 
  82. ^ "A coyote attacks in Weymouth and kills a dog", WHDH-TV – New England News
  83. ^ History of the Fur Trade, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, USGS
  84. ^ Dakotas Prairie Basin Wetlands, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, USGS
  85. ^ Coyotes As Part Of Texas' Fur Trade, Symposium Proceedings, Coyotes in the Southwest: A Compendium of Our Knowledge December 13–14, 1995, Angelo, Texas
  86. ^ Facts on Fur Types. International Fur Trade Federation
  87. ^ "The Daily Coyote". The Daily Coyote. Retrieved 2013-09-14. 
  88. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. p. 575. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  89. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Canis latrans". Fire Effects Information System. USDA Forest Service. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  90. ^ a b "Thos vs Canis". Holger Homann’s Home Page. Retrieved March 29, 2008. 
  91. ^ Seton, Ernest Thompson (2006). Art Anatomy of Animals. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications. p. 160. ISBN 0-486-44747-2. 

Further reading[edit]

  • "Canis latrans". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved March 23, 2006. 
  • Robert M. Timm, Hopland Research & Extension Center, University of California, Hopland, California; Rex O. Baker, California State Polytechnic University-Pomona (retired), Corona, California; Joe R. Bennett, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, Taft, California; and Craig C. Coolahan, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, Sacramento, California, "Coyote Attacks: An Increasing Suburban Problem" (March 3, 2004). Hopland Research & Extension Center. Paper timm_baker_P047.
  • Bekoff, Marc. 1977. Canis Latrans, Species Account. American Society of Mammalogists.
  • Moehlman, P., and H. Hofer. 1997. "Cooperative breeding, reproductive suppression, and body mass in canids", chapter in Cooperative Breeding in Canids, ed. N. G. Solomon and J. A. French. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
  • Morey, Paul. 2004. "Landscape use and diet of coyotes, Canis latrans, in the Chicago metropolitan area", Masters Thesis, Utah State University.
  • Parker, Gerry. 1995. "Eastern Coyote: Story of Its Success", Nimbus Publishing, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • Voigt, D. R., and W. E. Berg. 1999. "Coyote", chapter 28 in Wild Furbearer Management and Conservation in North America, Section IV: Species Biology, Management, and Conservation. Queen's Printer for Ontario, Ontario, Canada.
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Eastern coyote

The Eastern coyote (Canis latrans "var."), also known as the New England canid or tweed wolf, is a wild canid of mixed eastern wolf-coyote parentage with mild influences from gray wolves present in New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick,[2] Nova Scotia,[3] and Newfoundland and Labrador.[4] It was first noticed during the 1930s and 40s, and likely originated in the aftermath of the extermination of the eastern wolves in the northeast as well both populations of gray wolves in the maritime and hybrids between gray and eastern wolves in the western Great Lake regions, thus allowing coyotes to colonize former gray and eastern wolf ranges and mix with the remnant wolf populations.[5] However, it is suspected that the gray wolf markers present in some eastern coyotes may have been bridged over from the eastern wolves who have a history of hybridizing with both gray wolves and coyotes since the northern gray wolves are not known to readily hybridize with coyotes.[6] This hybrid is smaller than the pure eastern wolf, and holds smaller territories, but is in turn larger and holds more extensive home ranges than the typical western pure coyote.[5] Hybridization between the coyote and eastern wolf was facilitated by the close relationship between the two species, both of which diverged from a common ancestor 150,000-300,000 years ago,[7] whereas the gray wolf, which is Eurasian in origin and diverged 2 million years before, is slightly distantly related from both. However, introgression of gray wolf genes into eastern wolf populations had also occurred across eastern Manitoba, into Ontario, and parts of the southern Quebec, as well as into the western Great Lakes states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.[8] As a result, both the gray wolves and the eastern wolves, although mostly the latter, have contributed their roles as among two of the three Canis species for the modern day eastern coyotes' genepool. As of 2010, the eastern coyote's genetic makeup is fairly uniform, with minimal influence from the wolves or western coyotes.[5]

Description[edit]

Skulls of a western coyote and an eastern coyote.

Adult eastern coyotes are larger than western coyotes, weighing an average of 30-40 lbs, with female eastern coyotes weighing 21% more than male western coyotes.[5][9] Eastern coyotes also weigh more at birth; while newborn western coyotes weigh 250-300 grams, eastern coyotes weigh 349-360 grams. By the age of 35 days, eastern coyote pups average 1590 grams, 200 grams more than western coyotes of similar age. By this time, physical differences become more apparent, with eastern coyote pups having longer legs than their western counterparts. Differences in dental development also occur, with tooth eruption being later, and in a different order in the eastern coyote.[10] Aside from its size, the eastern coyote is physically not unlike the western coyote; both have erect ears, a straight and bushy tail, a conspicuous supracaudal gland and a narrow chest. There are four color phases, ranging from dark brown to blond or reddish blond, though the most common phase is gray-brown, with reddish legs, ears and flanks.[11] There are no significant differences between eastern and western coyotes in expressing aggression and fighting, though eastern coyotes tend to fight less, and are more playful. Unlike western coyote pups, in which fighting precedes play behavior, fighting among eastern coyote pups occurs after the onset of play.[10] Eastern coyotes tend to reach sexual maturity when they reach two years of age, much later than in western coyotes.[5]

Food[edit]

Eastern coyotes predate a variety of prey including mammals as small as a mouse and as large as moose; however, the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources lists their main prey items as rabbits, hares and deer in the winter and small mammals, wild berries, birds, amphibians and grasshoppers in the summer.[12]

Eastern Coyotes are known as opportunistic omnivores and will prey on whatever is available and easy to scavenge or kill. The diet of the Eastern Coyote will shift and change with the seasons. Their diet can include, but is not limited to, feeding on insects, and berries during summer, to small mammals in the fall and throughout the winter. As winter becomes harder later in the season, larger game, such as the white-tailed deer, becomes a target for the coyote. Coyotes will hunt in pairs in many cases and can bring down a healthy, adult deer, however, deer killed by vehicles or by other natural causes are the more frequent target for the scavenging coyote. Researchers from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry examined animal carcasses visited by radio-collared coyotes during the winter and summer of 2008-09. During the winter, only 8% of adult deer had been killed conclusively by coyotes. The remaining 92% were scavenged by coyotes after being killed by vehicles and other injuries. The adult deer that were killed by coyotes had severe preexisting injuries and were likely to die from other causes in the absence of coyote predation. In the spring the target for the coyote will shift to the newborn fawns as they are a much easier target for a coyote.[13][14][15][16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lawrence, B. & Bossert, W. H. (1969). The cranial evidence for hybridization in New England Canis. Breviora 330, 1–13.
  2. ^ "Living with Wildlife - Eastern coyotes". Natural Resources website. Government of New Brunswick. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions about Eastern Coyote in Nova Scotia". Department of Natural Resources website. Government of Nova Scotia. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "Living with Coyotes in Newfoundland and Labrador". The Department of Environment and Conservation website. Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Way, J.G., L. Rutledge, T. Wheeldon, B.N. White. 2010. Genetic characterization of Eastern "Coyotes" in eastern Massachusetts. Northeastern Naturalist. 17(2): 189-204.
  6. ^ http://www.fwspubs.org/doi/pdf/10.3996/nafa.77.0001
  7. ^ Wilson, P.J., Grewal, S., Lawford, I.D., Heal, J.N.M., Granacki, A.G., Pennock, D., Theberge, J.B., Theberge, M.T., Voigt, D.R., Waddell, W., Chambers, R.E., Paquet, P.C., Goulet, G., Cluff, D., White, B.N. (2000). "DNA profiles of the eastern Canadian wolf and the red wolf provide evidence for a common evolutionary history independent of the gray wolf". Canadian Journal of Zoology 78: 2156–2166. 
  8. ^ Rutledge, L. Y. (May 2010). Evolutionary origins, social structure, and hybridization of the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon), [thesis], Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
  9. ^ Way, J. G. 2007. A comparison of body mass of Canis latrans (Coyotes) between eastern and western North America. Northeastern Naturalist 14(1): 111–24.
  10. ^ a b Bekoff, M. 1978. Behavioral Development in Coyotes and Eastern Coyotes. In: M. Bekoff, (ed.), Coyotes: Biology, Behavior, and Management: 97-124. Academic Press, New York
  11. ^ Hilton, Henry. 1978. Systematics and Ecology of the Eastern Coyote. In: M. Bekoff, (ed.), Coyotes: Biology, Behavior, and Management: 210-28. Academic Press, New York
  12. ^ CBC: Coyotes are moose killers, study finds
  13. ^ http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/wildlife_pdf/coystatnny91.pdf
  14. ^ http://f.nanafiles.co.il/Upload3/82006/forummessageattachments/forummessagefile_1282800.pdf
  15. ^ http://www.env.gov.nl.ca/env/wildlife/all_species/coyote2.jpg
  16. ^ http://www.esf.edu/pubprog/brochure/coyote/coyote.htm

Further reading[edit]

  • Parker, G.E. 1995. Eastern coyote: the story of its success. Nimbus, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • Way, J. G. 2007. Suburban Howls: Tracking the Eastern Coyote in Urban Massachusetts. Dog Ear Publishing, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
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Urban coyote

A coyote in Chicago's Lincoln Park, 2011

Urban coyotes are coyotes living in metropolitan areas such as cities and suburbs. Coyotes thrive in suburban settings and even some urban ones, because of the availability of food and the lack of active enemies.[1][2] One report described them as "thriving" in U.S. cities,[3] and a 2013 report in The Economist suggested that urban coyotes were increasingly living in cities and suburbs in the United States.[4]

Contents

Adaptations to urban environments[edit]

A study by wildlife ecologists at Ohio State University yielded some surprising findings in this regard. Researchers studied coyote populations in Chicago over a seven-year period (2000–2007), proposing that coyotes have adapted well to living in densely populated urban environments while avoiding contact with humans. They found, among other things, that urban coyotes tend to live longer than their rural counterparts, kill rodents and small pets, and live anywhere from parks to industrial areas. The researchers estimate there are up to 2,000 coyotes living in "the greater Chicago area" and that this circumstance may well apply to many other urban landscapes in North America.[5] In Washington, D.C.'s Rock Creek Park, coyotes den and raise their young, scavenge roadkill, and hunt rodents. "I don't see it as a bad thing for a park," the assigned National Park Service biologist told a reporter for Smithsonian Magazine. "I see it as good for keeping animal populations in control, like the squirrels and the mice."[6]

Unlike rural coyotes, urban ones have a longer lifespan and tend to live in higher densities, but rarely attack humans or pets, according to one report. The animals generally are nocturnal and prey upon "rabbits, rats, Canada geese, fruit, insects and family pets" including dogs.[7] They can be attracted to food left out for birds, or prey upon stray cats, and tend to live between apartment buildings and in industrial parks. Coyotes tend to be "opportunistic" and "clever", according to one view. One study in Tucson, Arizona found that urban coyotes had similar antibodies and pathogens as coyotes in general, and had a survival rate in the city of 72% for any given year, on average.[8] A study in 2007 suggested that coyotes were "successful in adjusting to an urbanized landscape" with high survival rates, and are frequently in "close proximity" to people; [9] Both studies suggested that a major cause of deaths of urban coyotes was collisions with motorized vehicles.

In large city parks[edit]

In another testament to the coyote's habitat adaptability, a coyote nicknamed "Hal" made his way to New York City's Central Park in March 2006, wandering about the park for at least two days before being captured by officials. New York's parks commissioner Adrian Benepe noted this coyote had to be very "adventurous" and "curious" to get so far into the city.[10] An incident also occurred in April 2007 in the Chicago Loop district, where a coyote, later nicknamed "Adrian", quietly entered a Quizno's restaurant during the lunch hours; it was later captured and released at a wildlife rehabilitation center near Barrington, Illinois.[11][12] In February 2010, up to three coyotes were spotted on the Columbia University campus, and another coyote sighting occurred in Central Park.[13] Up to 10 coyotes have also been living and breeding in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.[14]

Management[edit]

A researcher studying the impact of coyotes in the city of Austin, Texas found that urban coyote management techniques, including steps to trap and remove coyotes who were exhibiting bold or aggressive behavior, as well as efforts to educate the public about not feeding the animals, had had a positive effect in lessening possible risk to humans or to pets.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Julie Feinstein, Field Guide to Urban Wildlife, 2011, ISBN 0811705854, pp. 86–92.
  2. ^ Stanley D. Gehrt and Seth P. D. Riley, "Coyotes (Canis latrans)" in Urban Carnivores: Ecology, Conflict, and Conservation, Stanley D. Gehrt, Seth P. D. Riley, and Brian L. Cypher eds., JHU Press, 2010, ISBN 0801893895, pp. 79–96.
  3. ^ Phys.org, January 4, 2006, Coyotes thriving in U.S. cities, Accessed March 13, 2013
  4. ^ The Economist, March 9, 2013, Urban coyotes: Dogged persistence -- The coyote is quietly conquering urban America, Accessed March 13, 2013
  5. ^ "Thriving under our noses, stealthily: coyotes" URL accessed on January 9, 2006.
  6. ^ Dell'Amore, Christine. "City Slinkers." Smithsonian 36.12 (2006): 36-38. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 June 2013.
  7. ^ JOSIE GARTHWAITE, The New York Times, October 24, 2012, Learning to Live With Urban Coyotes, Accessed March 13, 2013
  8. ^ Morbidity-mortality factors and survival of an urban coyote population in Arizona, M Grinder and PR Krausmanm, Journal of Wildlife Diseases, jwildlifedis April 1, 2001 vol. 37 no. 2 312-317, Accessed March 14, 2013
  9. ^ Stanley D. Gehrt, 12th Wildlife Damage Management Conference (D.L. Nolte, W.M. Arjo, D.H. Stalman, Eds). 2007. ECOLOGY OF COYOTES IN URBAN LANDSCAPES April 2007, Accessed March 14, 2013
  10. ^ Newman, Maria, and Janon Fisher. "Elusive Coyote Is Captured in Central Park." New York Times March 22, 2006. November 7, 2009.
  11. ^ "And the coyote shall lie down with the SoBes ...". Associated Press. April 4, 2007. Retrieved April 4, 2007. 
  12. ^ Meincke, Paul (April 4, 2007). "Coyote captured in Loop to be set free". WLS-TV. Retrieved April 4, 2007. 
  13. ^ » Three Coyotes Spotted on Columbia’s Campus. Myupperwest.com (2010-02-08). Retrieved on May 10, 2011.
  14. ^ "In City Where Dogs Outnumber Children, Finding a Way for Coyotes to Coexist", The New York Times, May 14, 2012 
  15. ^ Proceedings of the 12th Wildlife Damage Management Conference (D.L. Nolte, W.M. Arjo, D.H. Stalman, Eds). 2007; Randy O. Farrar, ASSESSING THE IMPACT OF URBAN COYOTE ON PEOPLE AND PETS IN AUSTIN, TRAVIS COUNTY, TEXAS April 2007, Accessed March 14, 2013
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Recent genetic studies demonstrate that the Coyote, the eastern Gray Wolf (Canis lupus lycaon) and the Red Wolf (Canis rufus) represent a common North American canid lineage distinct from that of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus), which has a Eurasian origin (Wilson et al. 2000). The Red Wolf/eastern Gray Wolf apparently diverged from the Coyote during the Pleistocene (Wilson et al. 2000). Eastern Gray Wolf (that is, C. lupus lycaon) genes apparently are incorporated into the coyote gene pool in the northeastern U.S.; Red Wolf (C. rufus) genes are incorporated into the coyote gene pool in the southeastern U.S. due to extensive hybridization. Genetic transfer of coyote mitochondrial DNA into wolf populations has occurred through hybridization in a contiguous geographic region in Minnesota, Ontario, and Quebec; the frequency of coyote-type mtDNA in these wolf populations is greater than 50%; no coyotes sampled had a wolf-derived mtDNA genotype; probably hybridization is occurring between male wolves and female coyotes in regions where coyotes only recently have become abundant following conversion of forests to farmlands (Lehman et al. 1991).

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Common Names

coyote
brush wolf
prairie wolf
American jackal

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The currently accepted scientific name for the coyote is Canis latrans
Say. It is in the family Canidae. Nineteen subspecies are currently
recognized, however; only 16 subspecies occur in Mexico, the United
States, and Canada [4,30]:

C. latrans cagottis (Hamilton-Smith) (Mexican coyote)
C. latrans clepticus Elliot (San Pedro Martir coyote)
C. latrans frustror Woodhouse (southeastern coyote)
C. latrans impavidus Allen (Durango coyote)
C. latrans incolatus Hall (northern coyote)
C. latrans jamesi Townsend (Tiburon Island coyote)
C. latrans latrans (plains coyote)
C. latrans lestes Merriam (mountain coyote)
C. latrans mearnsi Merriam (Mearns coyote)
C. latrans microdon Merriam (Lower Rio Grande coyote)
C. latrans ochropus Eschscholtz (California valley coyote)
C. latrans peninsulae Merriam (peninsula coyote)
C. latrans texesis Bailey (Texas plains coyote)
C. latrans thamnos Jackson (northeastern coyote)
C. latrans umpquesis Jackson (northwest coast coyote)
C. latrans vigilis Merriam (Colima coyote)

Fertile hybrids have been produced by matings of coyotes with feral dogs
(C. familiaris), red wolves (C. rufus), gray wolves (C. lupus), and red
foxes (Vulpes vulpes) [4,12]. Coyote-dog hybrids exhibit decreased
fecundity [12].
  • 4. Bekoff, Marc. 1977. Canis latrans. Mammalian Species. 79: 1-9. [24979]
  • 12. Chapman, Joseph A.; Feldhamer, George A., eds. 1982. Wild mammals of North America. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press. 1147 p. [21085]
  • 30. Hall, E. Raymond. 1981. The mammals of North America. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. New York: John Wiley and Sons. 1271 p. [14765]

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