Coyote Yearling, Advocates for the West Photo Credit

(Canis latrans)

Physical Characteristics: Resembles gray or reddish-gray medium size dog. About 3.5 – 4.5 ft from snout to tail, weighing 18-44 lbs. Pointed nose with gray patch between the eyes. End of bushy tail is black, underparts are whitish. Can run up to 25-30 miles per hour. Coyotes in northern Rockies are larger than southern populations.

Diet: Primarily carnivorous. Eats mice, squirrels, hares, birds, amphibians/reptiles, even eating larger prey like deer and bighorn sheep. Coyotes have been known to kill domestic sheep, calves, and pigs left exposed. Will consume cactus fruits, melons, berries and other vegetation.

Habitat: Extremely adaptive and found in many habitat types.

Range: All terrestrial habitats in North America except tundra of Canada, western Alaska and humid forests of southeast. Range expanded when gray wolves were exterminated in 20th Century. Clearing of forests enables population expansion. Found throughout Clearwater Basin.

Reproduction:  Ingestation period 2-months, litter size 3-10 pups, gives birth in spring. Blind at birth, eyes open after ten days and begin traveling outside den after three weeks. Known to breed with domestic dogs. Breeding increases when hunted, trapped, and persecuted by human management.

Threats: Predation by wolves, cougars, bears, other coyotes. Many state fish and wildlife agencies classify species as vermin or pests leading to uninhibited hunting, trapping, poisoning and other eradication efforts. Livestock industry is nemesis of species too.

Miscellaneous: Referred to as America’s “Song Dog.” Generally hunt alone but form packs when preying on hoofed animals during winter.

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