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SUBURBAN COYOTES September 15, 2010 7:41 PM



The Urban Coyote

Historically, coyotes were most commonly found

on the Great Plains of North America. Their range

now extends from Central America to the Arctic.

Except for Hawaii, coyotes live in all of the United

States, Canada, and Mexico. In spite of being hunted

and trapped for more than 200 years, more coyotes

exist today than when the U.S. Constitution was


Hardly any animal in America is more adaptable

to changing conditions than the coyote. Coyotes can

live just about anywhere. They are found in deserts,

swamps, tundra, grasslands, brush, and dense

forests, from below sea level to high mountains. They

have also learned to live in suburbs and cities like

Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, and Denver.

One of the keys to the coyote’s success is its

diet. A true scavenger, the coyote will eat just about

anything. Identified as a killer of sheep, poultry and

deer, the coyote will also eat snakes and foxes,

doughnuts and sandwiches, rodents and rabbits,

fruits and vegetables, birds, frogs, grass and

grasshoppers, pet cats and cat food, pet dogs and

dog food, carrion, and just plain garbage.

Coyotes are active mainly during the nighttime,

but they can be moving at any time during the day.

Most sightings of coyotes occur during the hours

close to sunrise and sunset.

Adult coyotes weigh between 20 and 45 pounds.

Females are generally smaller than males and

western coyotes are generally smaller than eastern


Coyotes look like small collie dogs. They have

erect pointed ears, slender muzzle, and a bushy tail.

Most coyotes are brownish gray in color with a light

gray to cream–colored belly. However, a coyote’s

color varies and may be somewhat darker or lighter

depending upon the geographic region and the time

of year. Most coyotes have dark or black hairs over

their back and tail.

A high reproductive rate and rapid growth of offspring

aid in the coyote’s success. Coyotes breed in

February and March and pups are born about 60

days later. An average coyote litter contains four or

five pups. Pups are born in dens. In urban environments,

dens can be in storm drains, under storage

sheds, in holes dug in vacant lots, parks, or golf

courses, or any other dark, dry place.

Pups are cared for by both parents and can eat

meat and move about well by the time they are a

month old. Because food requirements increase

dramatically during pup rearing, this is a period when

conflicts between humans and urban coyotes are

common. By 6 months of age, pups have permanent

teeth and are nearly fully grown. About this time,

mother coyotes train their offspring to search for food

so it is not unusual to observe a family group

traveling through parks and golf courses. If food is

deliberately or inadvertently provided by people, the

youngsters quickly learn not to fear humans and will

develop a dependency on easy food sources.

After this training period, usually in October and

November, most young disperse and find their own

breeding territory, but one or two pups may stay with

the parents and become part of the family group.

Although coyotes tend to travel and hunt singly or in

pairs, they may form groups as population densities

increase or where food is abundant such as in

urbanized areas.

In areas where they are hunted or trapped,

coyotes are extremely wary of human beings.

However, in urban areas where they are less likely to

be harmed and more likely to associate people with

an easy and dependable source for food, they can

become very bold. They will come up to the door of

a house if food is regularly present. Coyotes have

learned that small dogs and cats are easy prey.

Newspapers across the country have carried stories

of coyotes harassing leashed dogs on walks with

their owners in and near parks and golf courses

within city limits.

Calls to Wildlife Services (WS), a part of the U.S.

Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health

Inspection Service, for help or information involving

urban coyotes often pertain to the animals attacking

pets, eating garbage, or simply coming uncomfortably

close to houses or people on foot

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 September 16, 2010 1:26 PM

Very informative - thanks, Patricia !  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 October 24, 2011 12:56 PM

Due to mans spreading urbanization thus resulting in destruction of natural habitat,i have noticed the ever increasing presence of coyotes(and other species) into the urban populace.As they continue to be pushed out of their habitat by mans growth,they are running out of natural spaces to hunt and flourish and therefor turn to neighborhoods for food and sometimes shelter.This in turn makes people fearful that these animals are coming into their property and neighborhoods and close to their children,that they retaliate in making them a danger to the public.Its mankinds greed and ignorance that led to this,not the animals.

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 December 31, 2011 10:25 PM

I have Coyotes in my yard at least 3 times per month.
I somewhat agree with Rob that urbanization consumes habitat but the Coyotes don't move. They adapt. We co-exist here. They are part of the neighborhood. House pets can't be left outdoors if you intend to keep them.
We also have Puma, Bobcats and Golden Eagles that can challenge one to understand that they are not at the top of the food chain when you enter natures domain. Urban life is an illusion.

This one had been shot as the mark on its flank attests.

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