Coyote Paw Print

What Does a Coyote Paw Print Look Like?

Coyote Paw PrintThe coyote, or Canis Latrans, is a wolf-like animal similar in size to a large dog. They can weigh between 15 and 45 pounds, and can run at a top speed of approximately 40 miles per hour. Coyotes are known for their unique vocalizations, in fact the scientific name means ‘barking dog’. They have highly developed vision and a sharp sense of hearing, and can range in color from gray to brown, helping to camouflage themselves in their surroundings.

There are a few characteristics that can initially help identify a coyote paw print. Size, shape and nail marks are the first indicators of the prints themselves, however, geography and natural habitat are also important- a coyote must live in the area to be able to make the tracks! The Humane Society’s Wildlife Land Trust has concise information on basic identifying characteristics and measurements. Coyotes tracks are distinct from wolves and domestic dogs and generally smaller. Although they will typically form packs of multiple coyotes, are fairly solitary animals when hunting. A coyote will hunt alone or possibly in pairs, so a single set of tracks may help to identify an animal as coyote.

Size

Coyote prints are approximately 2 1/8 – 3 1/16 inches long by 1 5/8 – 2.5 inches wide. The front paw tracks are generally larger and more pronounced than the hind tracks due to the heavier distribution of body weight and the head of the animal in the front.

Shape

Coyote prints are generally more oval in shape, as opposed to squarish, like that of a dog or bobcat. Four toes, claw marks, and central heel pad are basic characteristics to look for when trying to identify coyote tracks.

Geography and other indicators

GeographyThe basic wildlife profile of a coyote consists of knowing where coyotes live, what they eat, and some of their habits and will also aid in identifying prints. Generally speaking, coyotes inhabit much of the Central and Western regions of North and Central America. Different regions of the continents may host subtle variations of the species (there are approximately 19 subspecies), but all are classified as Coyote. Coyotes are highly adaptable, and are able to survive in a variety of climates.

Territory. Coyotes will mark their territory with urine or scat, so it would not be unlikely to find these markers near sets of tracks.
Diet. In keeping with their natural adaptability, coyotes will eat a wide variety of foods based on availability. Nuts, berries, meat, and vegetables are all possibilities in a coyote’s daily intake.
Predators. Usually larger animals such as bears, wolves, mountain lions, or even bobcats if present are natural predators of coyotes. Humans also pose a threat to the coyote.
Dens and reproduction. Coyotes will dig dens, usually from an old existing one, for safety and for protecting a litter of pups. Coyotes can have anywhere from two to eight pups per litter, and both parent will care for their young.

full length coat

The Cost of a Coyote Fur Coat

What is the cost of a coyote fur coat? The answer to this question can vary based on several factors. Quantity, quality, and procurement or the native region of the animal are the top influences. The average price range is anywhere from $300 into the thousands. It is readily available on the  market and is comparable in both price and popularity with mink jackets. Major retailers such as Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom, as well as online furriers all carry coyote fur in a range of prices.

Quantity

First, how much of the pelt is being used in the creation of the garment will determine the price. The more fur used, the higher the price.

  • Full length.  A  full length coat is the most costly. The length extends anywhere from the calf to the floor, and typically considered womens’ wear, although it is not terribly unusual to be made for men. The amount of material used for a woman’s coat is frequently less that that of a man’s, thus affecting the relative price.
  • Jacket. This is a shorter version of a coat and is worn by both men and women. Since this style takes considerably less fur to create, the cost is less than a full length coat.
  • Shawl. Generally a cut that is intended to wrap around the shoulders and an option for individuals living in climates with milder winters. A shawl is a more wallet-friendly choice.
  • Hood or collar trim. Fur accents on a garment are the least expensive option. Trims are most frequently added to winter coats that are made from a variety of materials, such as wool or tech fabric, and often include feather inserts made from Canadian goose or duck feathers for added warmth. Collar seams are typically made detachable for ease of cleaning.
  • Accessories. Hats, headbands, gloves, and even a fur pillow cover are options to consider on the lower end of the price scale.

Quality

Second, the quality of the garment construction will influence the final price. Mass production pieces made overseas will cost far less than those hand-made by a master furrier, due to the time it takes and the level of attention to detail and skill. Sakowitz Furs and  Henig Furs are furriers that provide the quality that will increase the price to the higher end of the scale.

Procurement and Region

Third, the procurement of the pelt and region of the world it was found in will be a determining factor. A coyote pelt procured from a North American animal purchased in the US will cost less than  one made from an animal in other parts of the world. The majority of furs are produced on fur farms, as opposed to wild caught, and prices are generally maintained throughout the fur industry.

Finally, don’t forget there are additional costs to maintaining the investment of a coyote, or any other fur coat, after the initial purchase. Professional fur storage may be necessary if you live in a climate that is not conducive to the longevity of the pelt protecting it from heat and moisture, as well as protection from insects and other vermin. Also, professional fur cleaning and fur repair are recommended occasionally.

Coyotes Howl

Do Coyotes Howl at the Moon

Coyotes have long been a mystifying creature of the night.   For hundreds of years people feared these animals, assuming that they were fearless and aggressive hunters that would attack at any given moment.  One of the longest running myths about them is why they howl at night, and do coyotes howl at the moon?  Standing outside on a late fall evening you can probably hear the piercing sound of the first howl ring out through the dark clear night as if the coyote were just yards away. As soon as the first howl sounds out, there will most likely be a responding howl heard within minutes, but from another coyote.  Soon their howls and yips will blend together in a mixture of coyote song, sung loud for all to hear.  But are they howling at the moon?

Why Howl?

Why HowlCoyotes are members of the Canidae family.  Other members of the family include jackals, dogs, and the most notorious howlers – wolves.  Howling is among a variety of vocal communication that is used by these canids to communicate everything from warning other coyotes to stay away, calling or attracting a mate, and even locating other members of their pack.  Domesticated dogs can even be known to howl or make other similar sounds.  Alaskan malamutes and huskies are the most well-known for displaying this behavior, which makes sense since they are the most closely related to wolves.  Beagles and other hounds also do this, especially when in hunting situations.

There are two most common reasons that you hear coyotes howl.  One is that they are using this vocalization to advertise their home range or territory.  Coyotes use other methods such as scent markings like urinating on their boundary and leaving scat for their competitors to find, but howling signals to other coyotes much further and lets them know that the territory is taken.  The other reason a coyote howls is to locate a member of their pack.  Coyote howls are much like human voices in that they are unique and recognizable by their family, or pack.

Singing to the Moon?

Singing to the MoonMoonlight can affect coyote behavior for a few reasons.  One of the explanations for why a coyote will howl at night when the moon is full or more visible has more to do with their regular habits than a cosmic connection to the moon above earth.  There are three main coyote habits- hunting for food, protecting their territory, and finding a mate.

When the moon is fuller on a clear night, coyotes have the advantage of seeing better and further in the dark.  If the coyote happens to live in the forest regions, this provides an excellent opportunity that he will take advantage of to hunt for food into the night.  In these regions, particularly in the Northeast where coyotes are larger, they will hunt together as a pack to take down larger prey such as deer that are also using the moonlight as a light source.  When hunting in packs, coyotes will howl to signal to the other members where they are and when they are ready to attack.

This explanation also explains why coyotes howl at night in other regions.  When the moon is bright in plains and desert regions, the coyote has enough light to scavenge his territory for food sources and an opportunity to hunt in cooler conditions.  While the coyote is out hunting his territory, he will howl to other potential intruder coyotes that are looking for a moonlight meal that they are not welcome.

Coyote Sounds

Coyote SoundsFor such a small animal, they typically weigh 30-45 pounds – much smaller than a gray wolf, coyote howls are very loud and can be heard from miles away.  Coyotes must be able to call out and be heard for a very long ways away since their territory can range several miles, depending on region and how dense the coyote population is.  They also make other sounds such as a bark or yip, which can also be heard at night as they howl.  Although it might sound like a very large pack of coyotes are taking part in the night time howl ritual, it can in fact be only two or three coyotes.  All of their vocalizations combine to sound like a larger pack, which works in their favor to threaten off any predators or un welcome coyote visitors.

While moonlight can definitely cause a spike in night time coyote activity and sound, coyotes are not singing to the moon like the legends state.

Coyote with Mange

Coyote with Mange – What is it?

Practically everyone has heard of mange.  Usually when the term is brought up it conjures images of stray dogs in the street with patches of fur missing and an insane urge to scratch at all times.  This is a pretty accurate portrait of what mange can do to a canine.  Dogs are not the only members of the canine family to become afflicted with mange.  Sarcoptic mange is also known as canine scabies, and coyotes can become a target of mange just as easily as dogs- if not more.

What is Mange

Sarcoptic mangeSarcoptic mange is caused by tiny microscopic mites that live on the skin of the host animal.  These mites will bite and burrow into the soft tissue under the skin.  They will wreak havoc on the infected animal by causing itchiness that leads to hair loss, usually covering a large portion of the animal’s body and sometimes causing complete hair loss.  The constant scratching and burrows of the mite cause oozing crusty sores that usually become infected.  Once the hair has fallen out, the infected skin will thicken and develop crusty wrinkles.

One of the worst parts of sarcoptic mange is how easy it is to contract and how quickly it can spread.  Mange is spread through contact with an infected animal.  Because canines are typically pack animals, they live in close quarters with other members and can spread the mite by a simply brushing up against each other.  During winter months when coyotes will huddle closer together at night for warmth is an excellent opportunity for the mite to spread to the other pack members.  Mothers of young pups can also easily spread mange to their offspring by nuzzling them. The mites that cause mange can take over entire parts of the animal’s body in a short amount of time.

Mange can be treated, especially if caught early enough.  Anti-parasidic medication can be applied or administered to the affected animal that will kill the mite.  Multiple doses are usually required to kill off the living mites, as well as any un-hatched mite eggs that may be in the skin in a bad case.

Mange in Coyotes

Mange in CoyotesCoyotes are just as susceptible as domesticated dogs in contracting sarcoptic mange.  In fact, because coyotes are pack animals they have a better chance of spreading it to their pack members and keeping the cycle of mange going.

Mange can wreak havoc on a coyote and will usually result in a fatal ending.  Since the coyote will not receive treatment in the wild, the mite can take over their entire body and will leave the coyote completely hairless.  When winter comes this is a dangerous time for a coyote and he can freeze to death without the insulating warmth of his fur.  If the mange is on the coyote’s face, this can result in infection in the coyote’s eyes causing blindness.  When the coyote is blind he will not be able to hunt for food and within a short time, he will starve to death.

Signs to Watch For

coyotes with mangeBecause coyotes with mange have a harder time hunting and locating food, they will move into developed areas and neighborhoods in search of an easy meal.  Coyotes with mange will often leave their territory in search of better food sources, or because they were kicked out of their pack.  These “mangy” coyotes are also more active during daylight hours, especially if they have an infection of the eye causing them to lose sight and the ability to scavenge at night.

Coyotes that have contracted mange will usually appear hairless or missing large spots of fur in the early stages of mange.  Their skin can appear hardened and a darker gray or black color.  As small as a coyote usually is, their fur can give them the appearance of being larger or “fluffier” so a hairless coyote will appear even smaller than expected.  The myth of the chupacabra can be traced back to sightings of coyotes in the desert with a particularly bad case of mange.

It is important to keep your pets away from coyotes at all times, but especially coyotes with mange.  Your dog can contract this mite from a curious infected coyote looking to find a meal in your home’s trash.  Coyotes that have contracted mange should not be an immediate threat since they have been weakened by the mange, but it is best to steer clear to avoid a sick coyote and the chance of contracting the mites.

Animal Feces – Coyote Poop

Coyotes are a member of the canid family as well as wolves, foxes, and the domesticated dog.  While they may share similar characteristics, the behavior of coyotes and poodles are very different.  However, one thing that they definitely have in common is a territorial behavior that includes scent marking.  If you have ever let your dog out around another dog then you have probably seen him making the round urinating on bushes and other objects to warn the intruding dog that he is staking out his territory.  Coyotes are the same way.  When establishing a home range or territory, male coyotes will urinate on certain objects or areas to establish their boundary and let other possible intruder coyotes know that the land is claimed.  Another not so well known scent marker that coyotes use to establish territory is strategically placed scat.

What is Scat?

Basically, coyote scat is another term or way to say coyote excrement, poop, dung, or feces.  Scat is the general reference that most people use to refer to these coyote droppings.  Analyzing scat can help you not only determine what animal has been in the area, but also what kind of diet they eat, or even the health of the animal in some cases.  In the wild or rural areas you may come across a variety of scat from bears to bobcats, but coyote scat is recognizable by a few signs to look for and is recognizable by their diet and placement.

Identifying Coyote Scat

In areas where the coyote population mixes with the wolf population, coyote scat can be harder to tell apart.  While coyotes are smaller animals in size, weighing 30-45 pounds, they generally have large droppings for their size. Coyote scat will vary in size but a typical scat will be several inches long and about one inch in diameter.  What you see in coyote scat will largely depend on what time of the year it is.  In winter, scat will be darker in color and will contain more fur and possibly bones of their prey.  The darker color is due to the blood content from digesting their animal prey.  The fur will cause the scat to become twisted and be rope like.

In warmer summer months, coyote feces will be comprised of more plant matter and will appear lighter in color and have less fur, if any.  The bright color is usually due to large amounts of berries, the coyote’s favorite fruit snack.  Coyotes will also eat grass at times.  One of the reasons they do this is to clean out their digestive systems and help process their prey or even remove intestinal worms from their system.

Coyote feces do not generally have an odor to them, and if they do, it is more of a subtle musty smell.  This is a good way to tell domestic dog and coyote poop apart.  You can also tell apart wolf and coyote scat by the animal content inside.  Coyote scat will contain fur from smaller animals such as a snowshoe hare or insects, whereas the wolf will have larger prey like deer or elk in their scat.

Territory Markers

A coyote will use the fact that their scat is easily recognizable to their advantage.  One of the most common ways they use their scat is to make identifiable markers in their territory for other coyotes to see.  This is why you will likely find coyote scat on trails, crossroads, the side of road, walk ways, or any other travel route.  They will also use the scat placement to communicate with other coyotes within their pack.  In fact, coyotes will generally relieve themselves directly in the middle of a road to make sure that their droppings will be seen by any other coyote that dares to intrude on their home range.

If you happen to find coyote scat in your yard or the roadways near your home, this most likely means that a pack of coyotes have taken up residence in the area and have a territory they will defend from other coyotes and even pets.  If you find these droppings in your yard, you may want to start keeping a close watch on your pets and bring them indoors at night.  Removing the scat is safe as long as you maintain proper protection against touching or breathing in the scat at all times.  Coyote poop can contain many different diseases or bacteria that can transmit to humans or pets with contact.

Coyote Scat – What to look for:

  • Placement in roadways
  • Fur filled scat all year, but especially winter months
  • In summer, scat that is lighter in color from vegetables and berries
Info about the Coyote Pack

Info about the Coyote Pack

As members of the Canidae family, coyotes have the same characteristics of their other relatives that are pack animals – this includes wolves and jackals.  While wolves are the most notorious large pack animals in the family, coyotes will form smaller packs themselves.  There are a few reasons that coyotes form packs in the wild.  One of the reasons is that coyotes are the smaller canid members of the Canidae family, and use a pack to their advantage in hunting situations.  These packs are formed by having strict social hierarchy rules in place.

How a Pack is Formed

coyote packA coyote pack is formed by an alpha female and an alpha male coyote.  This coyote pair will form a territory or home range that they will remain in for the duration of their life, unless forced to leave.  Sometimes a male coyote will already have a territory in place and will try to attract a female from other areas into his home range to breed by howling and displaying other pre-mating behavior.  When the alpha male locates a female to breed, they will become a bonded pair that will remain together for their lifetime.  Since coyotes are monogamous mammals, this alpha pair will be the head of their pack together.

When the alpha male and alpha female coyote breed in late winter and early spring, the litter size of the female will determine the size of their pack.  Depending on the source of available food and density of coyote population, coyotes can have between three to ten pups.  These pups will become members of the pack until they are fully grown around nine months.  At this time, the alpha male will force the male offspring to leave the pack and find their own territory.  The female offspring will generally stay with the pack as beta females.

If there is not much competition for food in the home range, coyotes may allow other transient coyotes into their pack, if only for a short while.  These coyotes are usually non breeding females that have left their packs, or sick and old coyotes that were forced to leave.  These outsiders will stay temporarily with the pack until they find their own territory or become the new alpha when the head coyote dies.

Pack Benefits

Coyotes Pack BenefitsCoyotes benefit from forming packs, especially for hunting purposes.  By themselves, coyotes can catch and kill small prey and even livestock or deer fawns.  But when they hunt together in packs, coyotes have the ability to take down larger prey like deer.  In the northeast region of North America where deer are more heavily concentrated, coyotes are bigger in size and live in larger packs to take advantage of this readily available source of food.  These coyote packs will work together using vocalization to howl and alert other pack members of prey and distances when hunting.  Coyote packs can also do significant damage to livestock and pets when they are hunting in packs.  Once the pack has learned the location of their target, they will work together and even teach younger pack members how to successfully take down their prey.

pack coyotesHaving more pack members also means more coyotes to help defend the home range.  You will hear coyotes howling at night to warn other nearby coyotes of their presence and territory.  The pack members will respond back with a call to alert the coyote of their location in the home range.  The coyote will recognize the howl from each member of his pack by their distinct sound.  This helps them distinguish pack members from non pack coyotes.

Where are Packs located?

Coyote packs locatedCoyote packs can be formed in all regions of coyote habitat- which is basically all of the U.S, Canada, and parts of Mexico.  They will form packs in plains areas as well as mountainous country.  The biggest factors in pack formation and size are the food sources available to the coyote and territory sizes of other coyote packs.  Their food can consist of smaller easier to catch prey, in which coyotes can hunt in solitude and do not need a larger pack to supplement their diet with large game prey.  In contrast, in regions with higher deer and wolf populations, coyote packs have to compete with the wolf for prey and will form larger packs in these areas.

In urban parts of North America where coyotes live in close proximity to humans, pack sizes tend to be smaller.  This is due to the fact that these urbanized coyotes can rely on finding sources of their diet from humans instead of having to hunt down more prey in larger packs.

When is Coyote Breeding Season

If you have ever hunted coyotes or had a coyote sighting in late winter and early spring, then you know this is one of the best times to catch them moving during daylight hours.  Coyotes are more active during this period since this is the one time of year for the coyote breeding season.

Breeding Months

Late winter and early fall, specifically the end of December through mid March, is the coyote breeding season.  Typically, the prime time for the breeding season runs from the latter part of January until the beginning of March.  The actual month for coyote breeding can depend on a few factors including weather.  In the southern and western states where it is usually warmer or milder in winters, February is the month that most breeding will occur.  In the more Northern states and some parts of the West, most breeding will occur in March.   For a couple of months leading up to coyote breeding season, coyotes will engage in a pre-mating behavior up until the female is ready to mate.  During this time coyotes will often be heard howling to attract their mate or challenge another coyote for mating rights.  This is why you can often see coyotes out and about during daylight hours this time of year.  The males are out inspecting their territory to make sure that no other males are intruding in their home range looking for a female to breed.

Mates for Life

Coyotes are for the most part monogamous animals.  Once an alpha male and an alpha female coyote form a bond, they can stay together as a mating pair for several years, usually until one of them dies or is killed.  Pairs are comprised of a fully matured female and fully matured male.  The male coyote will generally be faithful to his female partner and will usually remain with her not only through breeding season but even after she has her pups and will help watch after and raise them.  Male and even female coyotes, while usually faithful to their partners, may stray every now and then.  Usually this happens when the male coyote is ready to mate but the female is now yet in full estrous.  Once the coyote female mate is ready to breed, he will come back to her.

Spring Pups

After the alpha male and female mate, the female will search out and find a den to have her pups.  Coyotes are adept at making a den out of almost anything.  The female will search out an abandoned animal den or find almost any underground crevice where she can have her pups and keep them sheltered.  The gestation period is approximately 63 days.  During this time the female will stay in her den with her pups while the male coyote watches after the den and brings the female food.  Even though the male coyote stays near the den and will bring food to feed the female, she will not let the male inside the den at any time.  While coyotes are not known for being aggressive, especially towards humans, during this time it is best to avoid coming close to a known coyote den as the coyote pair will be more aggressive than usually in defending their den and pups.

Typical litter sizes range from 4-7 pups, depending on a few factors including available diet and density of other coyotes in the area.  This timing works in the coyotes favor since spring is the best time to find food in most parts of their habitat.  Once the pups are born, they will stay in the den for a few weeks.  When the female is ready to take them out, she will introduce them to solid food. For the next few months, the coyote parents will take their pups into their home range and teach them how and what to hunt.  Until they are grown, the alpha pair will watch over their pups carefully and may even have help from other pack members, that can include previous off spring or non breeding female members.  The pups will become almost fully grown within nine months.  Within a year from birth, most of the male coyote pups from the spring will be on their own in search of new territory.  The female pups will stay close to their mother and remain members of the pack.  Once their mother dies, one of the female off spring will become the new alpha female of the pack.

Understanding Coyotes – Coyote Habits

To understand coyote habits you must look at where the coyote has been and where they are now.  The coyote is a native medium sized canid to North America and was originally found in the Great Plains area.  With early settlers moving west, they inadvertently helped the coyote expand their territory by killing off wolves and bears from much of their native areas.  By reducing the coyotes natural predators– wolves, bears and mountain lions- the coyote was able to spread across much of the continent into almost all U.S. states, and into parts of Canada and Mexico.  The adaptive nature of the coyote has made him an excellent survivor in all of these regions.

Pack Behavior

Coyotes are crepuscular animals, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk.  When they reside closer to humans, they will tend to be more nocturnal.  In areas with little or no human activity, coyotes will be more active and hunt during the day or anytime when they can find prey available.

Coyote territories are an important part of coyote behavior and habits.  A pack of coyotes lead by an alpha female and alpha male will stake out their territory which can consist of a few acres or a few miles, largely dependent on available food source and coyote populations in the vicinity.  In more urbanized areas, coyote territories will be smaller than territories in open plain and mountainous regions.  Coyotes are much like dogs in that they will mark their territory or home range with urine and sometime will even mark their most important territory with scat.  They are very vocal animals that will use howls and yips to alert their pack mates of their location and warn other coyotes of territory boundaries.

There are two types of coyotes in regards to their territory- a resident and a transient coyote.  Resident coyotes live within a certain home range territory with their pack.  These resident coyotes are typically the alpha pair along with their offspring of the season and offspring of previous seasons.  Transient coyotes are the loners of the coyote world.  These coyotes are usually recently matured coyote yearlings that were kicked out of their pack by the alpha male to find their own territory and breed, or old and sick coyotes that were forced to leave their pack.  The transient coyotes that do not get accepted into a new pack will spend their days on the outskirts of other coyote territories to avoid attacks.

Hunting Habits

Coyotes are opportunistic animals, making the most of their habitat and circumstances.  Coyotes are quick and agile hunters, able to run up to 40 miles per hour to take down their prey.  They are also very good swimmers, so fish is definitely on the menu.

They can form different strategies for hunting different types of prey.  If the coyote is after smaller easier to catch prey like a field mouse or rabbit then they will hunt alone.  Even though they are smaller in size than a wolf, coyotes are fierce hunters when working together in packs.  They have the ability to take down full grown deer and even caribou.

Another hunting habit of coyotes that have a range closer to humans include preying on livestock and pets.  Once a coyote learns the location of easy to kill livestock, they will keep coming back to claim a meal until they are killed themselves.  They will even use this as an opportunity to teach their pups how to hunt since they know that the livestock will generally be in the same location every time.

Activity

Coyotes remain active all throughout the year, with peak activity begging during the breeding season in late December.  During this time they can be spotted during daylight hours more than any other time of the year and will often be seen trotting down trails or roadways in search of available female coyotes to breed.

During the 3-4 month breeding season, the alpha female and alpha male coyote will remain together until they successfully breed.  The female coyote will find herself a den, usually taking over another animal’s den, and will remain there until several weeks after her pups are born.  The alpha male coyote will continue hunting and providing food for the female.  When the pups are born he will continue bringing food to the den for the female and pups to eat.

Once the pups are fully grown after about nine months, the females may stay with the pack while the male coyotes will be forced away by the alpha male to find their own territory.  They will then become transient coyotes until they find a mate and stake out their own territory.

Coyote Food Chain – What Do They Eat

Coyotes are clever survivors.  In fact, coyote populations are thriving more than ever.  No matter how many management programs are put in place to curve the growth of these cunning animals, the coyote population all over North America doesn’t seem to be on the brink of becoming endangered any time soon.  Why are these canines so adept at surviving in almost any terrain?  It is because the coyote has such a wide range of diet that they can survive almost anywhere.

Unlike their relatives the wolf and other members of the canine family, coyotes are omnivores and their diet can sometimes be better compared to a raccoon’s diet than a canine carnivore diet.  While coyotes prefer a more carnivorous diet when possible, they can make do with plant matter if that is the only food available.

Crafty Hunters

A coyote’s favorite prey includes small animals found in the plains and forests.  Coyotes typically hunt alone so most of their prey are animals they can take down solo.  This includes small easier to catch prey like mice, rabbits, birds, fish, lizards, bugs, and anything else they can get their paws on.  In some cases, coyotes will hunt in pairs or with their pack and have the ability to take down larger prey like white tail deer or caribou.  In the Northeastern part of the continent where deer is more abundant and coyotes are typically larger in size, deer are a more important part of the coyote diet than the smaller coyotes that live in the southern and western areas.

To the detriment to farmers and ranchers, coyotes are one of the top killers of livestock.  These coyotes can become a very destructive nuisance to the farmers and ranchers since they can easily take down a lamb or calf by themselves or do a number to full grown livestock if the coyote pack hunts together.  Once they find the livestock animals and if the coyote territory is near, the coyotes will keep coming back to hunt until they are killed.

Scavengers

Coyotes can find sources of meat in other ways.  They can scavenge the remains and kills from other animals, especially wolves.  Although not preferable, in areas with high wolf populations where competition is higher, coyotes will rely on smaller animals and wait for the wolves to finish with larger elk or deer carcasses for their diet.  A single coyote or coyote pack will learn to shadow their wolf neighbors and since they cannot compete with the larger and more aggressive hunting practices of the wolf, they will wait until the wolves are done with their meal and pick off the remains.

In the fall and winter, coyotes can be a nuisance to deer hunters trying to track down their harvest only to find that their deer has already been discovered by coyotes.  This is a common problem, especially if a deer runs off and the hunter decides to try to scout the next day during daylight hours.  Usually by the time the hunter is successful in locating his deer, the coyotes have long discovered an easy target and will get the best of the deer.

Besides meat, coyotes will scavenge for fruits and vegetables.  During the colder months when prey may be harder to locate and kill, plant matter becomes a larger part of the coyote diet.  Berries are the coyotes favorite fruit meal which is available to them in late Summer and early Fall.  In captivity, coyotes will be given diets that contain both meat protein and fruits and vegetables.

Urban Diet

With the urbanization by humans throughout North America, people and coyotes are finding themselves closer than ever.  The coyote is an extremely adaptable animal and will learn to find food in any situation.  That includes venturing into cities and neighborhoods to find food sources.  Coyotes can be found rummaging through trash cans looking to make a meal out of old food found in garbage.

They have unfortunately even been known to come straight into back yards to steal a small pet for dinner.  Outdoor cats and small dogs kept in pens or on leashes and runs are especially easy targets for a coyote.  Keeping pet food outdoors can also attract a coyote looking for a quick snack.  There are basically no limits to where you can find a coyote that is looking for food.  They have been spotted in New York City as well as Los Angeles in search of an easy meal.

Coyote Diet:

  1. Small animals – mice, lizards, rabbits, birds, frogs, etc.
  2. Plants – fruits and vegetables, especially berries
  3. Garbage – old food
  4. Pet food left outdoors
  5. Livestock
  6. Scavenged remains from larger predator kills

Animal Protection – Are Coyotes Dangerous

You’re standing outside at night and all the sudden you hear the familiar howl and scream of the coyote pierce through the night.  You hear more join in until it’s a mix of yips and howls of who knows how many coyotes surely about to pounce and destroy their prey.  Are they coming your way?  Should you be scared?  The truth is, unless you are livestock in an un guarded pasture or a field mouse, you really don’t have to worry about a coyote attack.

Wiley Coyote

The coyote has been painted as a dangerous animal for hundreds of years.  Often shown as a sneaky trickster that will attack at any moment.  Then there is Wiley Coyote who is always on the attack of Mr. Roadrunner.  This is all an exaggeration, and for the most part the coyote will keep to himself and hunt in his home territory.  Coyotes are not bold pack hunters that will roam the country like the wolf.  In fact coyotes prefer solitude and will stay within the confines of their territory unless forced to move.

Threat to Humans?

Coyotes are not known to ever attack a full grown human.  A coyote attack on a person is relatively un heard of.  In fact, we are more of a threat to coyotes than coyotes are a threat to humans.  Even a pack of coyotes will not attack a human unless they are provoked.  Even smaller children are not likely to be prey for a coyote.

The coyote is known to be a carrier of diseases such as rabies.  This would be an exception as sick animals are unpredictable and can attack out of confusion or aggression from the disease.  Coyotes may also attack in protection of their den if someone or something were to get to close, especially if they have new pups they are trying to protect.

Pet Problems

When coyotes start to venture into urbanized and populated areas is when they start to become a problem.  Coyotes will not attack a human, however, they have been known to scale fences and pluck neighborhood pets right out of the yard.  There have been suburban area coyote sightings increasing over the years as we take over more and more coyote territory.  Keeping pet food inside is also a good idea to keep scavenging coyotes from getting comfortable and learning there is available food in your area.  What are some ways to protect your pets?

  1. Keep your pets on a leash at all times when walking them
  2. Never leave them overnight on a tie out or leash
  3. Keep pet food indoors
  4. Install an electric fence to keep coyotes away

Livestock Losses

Despite being smaller than wolves, coyotes are actually the number 1 killer of livestock.  This could be due to the fact that there is a much larger population of coyotes than wolves.  Coyotes are also very adaptive and learn how to get around preventative measures in order to get to their prey.  During the season when sheep and cows give birth to their offspring is a time when coyotes are typically very active trying to take advantage of the smaller and more vulnerable prey. Once these coyotes kill once they will continue to hunt livestock on these farms and ranches and may even bring their pups to the farm to teach them hunting skills.

If you see a coyote

You may catch a glimpse of a coyote every now and then.  This should be a rare occurrence since they are typically skittish creatures.  If you do happen to see a coyote during the day and he does not seem to be frightened by human presence, you can try making a loud noise since coyotes are frightened by sudden loud noises.  If that does not work then you can try to raise a shirt or other object that makes you look larger.  They coyote should retreat and run away.  The most important thing to remember is not to ever give them food or let them have access to a food source near you.