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 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. Known to kill exposed domestic sheep, calves, and pigs. 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. Found throughout Clearwater Basin. Populations expanded across U.S. when gray wolves were exterminated in 20th Century. Also established in certain major U.S. cities.
Reproduction: Ingestation period 2 – months, litter size 3 – 10 pups; gives birth in spring. Blind at birth, eyes open after ten days, and travels 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 unregulated hunting, trapping, poisoning, and other eradication efforts. Livestock industry is nemesis of species too. Coyote “derbies” are also recent threat across U.S.
Miscellaneous: Referred to as America’s “Song Dog.” Generally hunts alone but can form packs when preying on hoofed animals during winter.
Learn about coyote management.
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