Meet The Coyote
Coyote populations can be found just about everywhere, from the remote wilderness to the heart of New Your City - despite heavy lethal control over the past century, and in spite of the recent popularity of coyote hunting.
Because we have killed so many wolves and mountain lions, humans and disease have ended up being the coyote's only natural predators. If you trap, kill or relocate one coyote, another will certainly take its place soon, and research has indicated that the more the coyotes are hunted, the faster they are able to adapt, compensating by producing larger litters of pups and increasing their range.
Coyotes And Humans Colliding
Many people say "coyotes and other wildlife have no place to live because we are cutting down the woods they live in and we are taking their homes so they are now moving to town." Make no mistake - for most of these animals such as coyotes, fox, skunk, opossum and raccoons - they are at home - right where they want to be.
The photo of the coyote seen immediately above was taken on a Las Vegas golf course, and he looks quite "at home". They have learned to adapt and flourish. All they want is food, water and shelter; and we, as humans, abundantly and inadvertently provide all of what they could possibly ask for. As humans, we must all change our habits drastically, or learn how to co-exist with coyotes and other wildlife in urban settings.
During the 1800's, coyote populations were limited mostly to the Great Plains and Western portions of The US. Since then, they have expanded their range North and East. The Southeast did not start to have a larger population until the 1960's and South Carolina supposedly did not have coyotes until the 1980's.
Coyote Food Chain
Coyotes are typically shy, non-confrontational animals when it comes to human contact, but, if common sense is abandoned, conflicts will occur. Coyote food is just that - coyote food. A small child, cat or the family dog can easily become a coyote's meal under the right conditions
Your pets are likely to fall victim to coyotes if they are being fed outdoors. This is because food on the ground attracts rats. Then the rats and easily available pet food attracts the foxes and coyotes. If a pet is in between the food bowl and a coyote, your pet may turn up missing.
If you were to kill the average coyote and open its belly up, you would likely find that their primary urban food source is actually dog food, cat food, mice and rats. Human populations tend to attract rodents such as mice and rats, therefore rodent predators such as foxes and coyotes will soon move in for the food source they provide.
Keeping geese, chickens or other small livestock around can attract coyotes too, even when they are on a suburban property within city limits, the photo below is all that remains of some ducks who fell prey to coyotes.
In general, coyotes are omnivores and opportunistic carnivores who will eat most things that do not eat them first... mice, rats, improperly stored garbage, insects, rabbits, deer, fawns, eggs, calves, cattle, sheep, plants, berries, fruit, carrion, animals caught in body crushing or foot hold traps by fur trappers, birds, snakes, turtles, groundhogs, and fish. It has been suggested that if we stopped hunting deer, that coyotes may take care of the excessive deer populations and hunting would not be needed in many parts of the United States. For a stimulating read on this subject, please read the interesting article How Coyotes Affect Deer Herds found in the NRA publication American Hunter Magazine.
Family Life, Pups And Reproduction
Starting around age two, coyotes breed in January-February. Nine weeks later, between four and seven pups are born. When food is scarce, fewer are born. Pups are weaned at 6 weeks, and for hunting practice, parents supply live mice to their pups. They join their parents on hunts after about ten weeks, and typically go out on their own in the fall or winter.
Similar to the Canada Goose, coyotes tend to mate for life, and defend their territory with their lives. They mark their territory via feces and urine on significant geographical and other features in their territory.
Coyotes, as America's native song dog, are known for their mournful howl. A coyote's howl serves several purposes including calling the family back together and letting other coyotes know "this" territory is taken.
Coyotes have also been known to use their howl to protect their pups - by leaving their pups in a hidden area, moving away from them and then howling to draw the predators in their direction - away from the pups.
Coyotes And Rabies
At this time, Rabies Surveillance Data shows there are more cases of rabid cows than rabid coyotes in Oklahoma. Coyotes are not considered major rabies carriers; in fact, they represent less than 1% of all documented rabies incidents in wild animals for over the past two decades in Oklahoma. According to an Oklahoma Study, more house cats, dogs, horses and cows have been rabid than coyotes.
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