Eastern Coyote Canis Latrans
Common Names: Prarie wolf, Little wolf, Songdog
Species: Canis latrans
General Description: The Eastern coyote is a large member of the canine family which has recently colonized this area. These wild canids are highly adaptable to changing conditions and new environments. The coyote is tawny grey in color with the female being slightly smaller than the male. On the head, tail and at the shoulders the coyotes have fur which is tipped with black giving a multicolored look. The Eastern coyote has a weight range of 15-45 lbs. Standing 15 to 20 inches at the shoulders the average coyote is 40-60 inches long. In the wild a life expectancy of 15 years is average. The Eastern coyote has a pointed snout and erect pointed ears.
Coyotes have a characteristic large bushy tail which is carried low to the ground when running. Coyote tracks are approximately three inches long and are more oval shaped than a dog’s. The front foot is larger than the hind with claw marks showing at the end of each toe. When they run the coyote places one foot in front of the other placing the back foot in the print made by the front.
Geographical Distribution and Habitat Requirements
Coyotes are atypical mammals in that their range extends throughout Central America, Continental U.S.A. and all but northern Canada. Their presence has been noted in New Brunswick since 1958 when one was seen near Sussex. These animals entered the area from Maine and Quebec and quickly adapted to this new habitat. Coyotes are extremely opportunistic and their great success has lead to rapid colonization of new areas. Their preferred habitats include forests, clear cuts, farms and wood lots in this area but in other regions encompass rainforest, grassland, chaparral, desert and savanna. They have much greater success in areas which are not populated by wolves. They are tolerant of humans and thus can be found near buildings and towns.
General Biology The Eastern coyote is extremely opportunistic in respect to diet. They eat small mammals, insects, carrion, berries, and occasionally larger mammals. Up to ninety percent of a typical coyote’s diet is mammalian. Fruit and vegetables become important in winter when prey is not as readily available. Coyotes thrive near human populations where garbage, household pets and livestock are present. A coyote population can be especially serious to farmers as they can quickly have a serious impact on the livestock numbers.
Coyotes reach sexual maturity after 1-2 years. The female coyote is monoestrous and is in heat for 2-5 days in February. After a gestation period of 63 days the litter of pups is born. The average little is 6 pups although up to 15 can be found. The pups are fed regurgitated food and cared for by both parents. Coyotes have their young in protected dens.
Coyotes can be seen at all times throughout the day. They generally tend to be crepuscular and nocturnal, coming out in the evening and hunting until morning. They do not hibernate or experience periods of torpor. Throughout the winter coyotes can have a very difficult time finding food and often decrease their activity to compensate for this.
Coyotes are able to comfortable maintain a speed of 40 mph. This allows them to have a relatively large territory. A pair of adults would typically have a territory of about fifty kilometers. This is marked by urination and dropping scat in conspicuous locations. They acquired the early name
of barking-wolf from their strange cry, a mingled bark, yelp and long-drawn wail that seems to issue from more than one animal.
Conservation The coyote has no special conservation status in North America. Presently they are inhabiting a larger range than ever. Their record numbers are due to its fantastic ability to thrive in areas where habitat disturbances hae occurred such as cleared areas. They readily survive near urban areas as long as food and shelter are available. Several attempts have been made in the past to eliminate the coyote as they are a threat to livestock. Due to its intelligence and ability to adapt to environmental changes the coyote has overcome this and managed to flourish.