Classification: Non-game Wildlife Species
Status: Valuable fur animal. Abundant. Unprotected predator.
Identifying Characteristics: Like a medium-sized dog in appearance. Nose more pointed and tail bushier than most dogs. Larger than the red fox and much smaller than a wolf. Tail held down between legs when running. Long, dense fur. pelt gray or reddish-gray, with rusty legs, feet, and ears. Throat and belly whitish.
Total length: 43 to 53 inches. Weight: 30 to 40 pounds.
Habitat: Utilizes almost any habitat, including urban areas, where prey is readily available. Prefers prairies, open woodlands, brushy or boulder-strewn areas. Coyote abundance is tied to food availability.
Food Habits: Consumes a variety of foods and carrion. Will eat almost anything, plant or animal. Emphasizes small mammals, fawns, plants, birds, and invertebrates. During winter, often preys on deer. Commonly preys on domestic sheep.
Life History: Mainly nocturnal, true scavenger, territorial. Kills large animals by attacking the throat. Mated pars usually produce pups each year, and both adults assist in care of the young. Den used for rearing pups. Breeds from January to March; 60 to 63 day gestation; 4 to 7 pups in a typical litter.
Similar species: Wolves - larger, hold tail high when running. Red fox - smaller, hold tail out straight when running. Dog, wolf/coyote, coyote/dog, and wolf/dog crosses are also possible.
Coyotes are widely distributed throughout the United States. Efforts to contain wild populations of coyotes have been only "temporarily" successful in spite of bounties, poisons and a total lack of protection in many states. This species is very adaptable and they can thrive in forests, farmlands, prairies, mountains, deserts, and swamplands. Coyote populations are know to exist in 46 states, and it is possible that coyotes will soon be present in all states except Hawaii. Coyotes can adapt to populated areas, and thousands of coyotes living within the city limits of Los Angeles have led to severe management problems. Coyotes frequently howl at night when they are not severely persecuted.