The Coyote looks like a common house pet, but these animals can be the scourge of the forest. They will kill and eat almost anything they can.
Once found only in the western states, the coyote has moved east, north and south over the last few decades until it is found today in every state in the union except Hawaii.
They are a master predator that have few enemies and are willing to adapt to almost any place and almost any environment.
November through March is coyote courting season when more coyotes will be seen in pairs as the courting season ritual begins.
During the courting season, coyotes have been observed romancing their partners in a variety of different ways; playing with their partners by jumping high into the air, dancing around their partners, chasing their partners, and even coming face to face with their partners. Coyotes will have increased appetites and require more food due to their increased extra curricular activities during the courting season.
Dog owners must pay particularly close attention to their dogs (especially male dogs) while outside during January and even through the middle of February, because coyotes may see a dog as competition (and maybe even a threat). A coyote’s natural instinct is to remove the competition (or threat) since coyotes are very protective of their partners. Most susceptible to coyote attack are puppies and older dogs that are less able to protect themselves.
The voice of the coyote is quite distinctive, consisting of various howls, high-pitched yaps, and occasional dog like barks. Coyotes are proficient predators, possessing the speed, strength, and endurance necessary to tackle prey as large as adult deer.
The gestation period is about 60-63 days. Young are born March through May, with litter sizes averaging 5-6 pups. Coyotes produce one litter per year. The young are weaned at 5-6 weeks and leave the parents at 6 to 9 months. Most adults breed first in their second year. Non-breeding yearlings often stay with the adult parents and help with care of the pups. Coyote dens are found in steep banks, rock crevices, sinkholes, and underbrush. Often these are holes that have been used by badger, skunks, foxes, or other animals with entrances enlarged to about one foot in diameter. Dens vary from 4 to 5 feet wide to 50 feet deep.
The diet of the coyote consists mainly of mice, rats, ground squirrels, gophers, rabbits, and carrion. They also eat insects, reptiles, amphibians, fruits, birds and their eggs, and deer fawn. In some rural areas they prey heavily on sheep, cattle, and poultry. In urban and suburban areas, garbage, domestic cats, dogs and other pets, hobby animals, and pet food can be important food items.
Coyotes are most active at night and during the early morning and late evening hours. In areas where they are not disturbed by human activities and during the cooler times of the year, they may be active throughout the day.
Urban coyotes are becoming very tolerant of human activities. Young coyotes tend to be more active during daylight hours than adults. Home range size varies depending on food availability.
Distemper and canine hepatitis are among the most common diseases of coyotes. Rabies and tularemia also occur and may be transmitted to humans and other animals. Coyotes often carry parasites including mites, ticks, fleas, worms, and flukes. Mites that cause sarcoptic mange are an important ectoparasite of coyotes. Heart worm is one of the most important endoparasites in the coyote population. This parasite can be transmitted to domestic dogs by mosquitoes.
Coyotes can cause substantial damage. In rural areas they often kill sheep, calves, and poultry. In some parts of the state they cause damage to drip irrigation systems by biting holes in the pipe. In other areas they cause considerable damage to watermelons, citrus fruits, and avocados. Aircraft safety is often jeopardized when coyotes take up residence on or near runways. Coyotes have also been known to prey on various endangered/threatened species. In urban and suburban areas, coyotes commonly take domestic house cats, small dogs, poultry, and other domestic animals. Coyotes have been known to attack humans, and in one case, a coyote in southern California killed a three-year-old girl.
They are omnivores and will eat almost anything including fruits, berries, and bugs. Their main foods, however, are small forest animals such as mice, squirrels, grouse, voles, moles, and rabbits.
Coyotes reproduce each winter and can have up to 10 or 12 pups in each litter. Coyotes can live to be 10 years old in the wild.
They love to hang around neighborhoods, where they can easily find scraps and small animals.
Some people suggest carrying pepper spray while you’re out, especially at night. It’s a good tactic to shoo the creatures away.
“Making yourself look larger, yelling at it, pick up a stick or rock something and throw it at that and we’ll let it know that you’re not afraid of it and generally they will leave you alone,” a Texas Park Ranger at Davis Mountains State Park told us. “Small dogs are most vulnerable to coyote attacks than other pets, so make sure your pet is on a leash or in a fence when going outside.”
“When we let our animals out and you just turn them loose and let them go, you’re taking a risk on a coyote or another dog or something attacking and killing your pet,” he advised.
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I’ve seen one in our neighborhood but heard them yipping in the early morning hours. Of course, we have two Roadrunners living on our property, so that may be a reason. Many years ago, I came home late one night when I lived in Plano. I noticed a large german shepherd sitting on my porch. I intended to pet it or call it to me, but then I realized it was a coyote. He ran away, but the guy was on my porch, which tells you how immune to us they are. My grandmother lost at least a half dozen chickens daily to coyotes; she just had more chicks to replace them.
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Coyotes are all over these woods, and on a frozen winter day you can sometimes hear a pack ki-yi-ing up on the ridge. They are one of the few species it’s always open season on. There are several guys around here who go out there “to clean them up.”
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I’m in a borough of Pittsburgh that borders with it. There was a Coyote on my street within the last few weeks. We’ve heard them at night. I haven’t see it yet, but the neighbor and his son did. Noteworthy, there are no dogs running loose here, so Coyotes stand out.