Illegal Immigration? Coyotes Move North, East, and South

Study review by Kip Hansen


coyoteThis essay is about coyotes!

One of the odd things about this blog — WUWT — is the broad range of interests of the readers here.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised by this as readers here tend to be better-than-average educated, well read, interested in all things Science, concerned about the environment and tend to have more open minds.

At least three times in the last couple of years, I have written about some topic, only to have the comments section overwhelmed by discussions of coyotes — their habitat, range and behaviors — with lots of interesting stories of personal sightings and experiences.

We hear and read so much news about the threat of species extinction and shrinking ranges of species that I though a modern success story was in order.

The publishing of a brand new study about North American coyotes and their historic ranges has presented this opportunity to write about coyotes and allow readers to share their stories — this time on topic!

The new study comes to us from James W. Hody (North Carolina State University) and Roland Kays (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences) in a paper published in the open-access journal ZooKeys, titled Mapping the expansion of coyotes (Canis latrans) across North and Central America.

 The paper is a major effort exploring this statement:

“The geographic distribution of coyotes (Canis latrans) has dramatically expanded since 1900, spread­ing across much of North America in a period when most other mammal species have been declining. Although this considerable expansion has been well documented at the state/provincial scale, continent-wide descriptions of coyote spread have portrayed conflicting distributions for coyotes prior to the 1900s, with popularly referenced anecdotal accounts showing them restricted to the great plains, and more ob­scure, but data-rich accounts suggesting they ranged across the arid west.”

Hody and Kays dug into biological history using “archaeological and fossil records, museum specimens, peer-reviewed reports, and records from wildlife management agencies” to determine the true historical range of the coyote as far back as 10,000 years before the present.  What they found was that “coyotes have been present in the arid west and California throughout the Holocene, well before European colonization. Their range in the late 1800s was undistinguishable from earlier periods, and matched the distribution of non-forest habitat in the region.”   Here’s the primary map they offer:


While we see that there are a few outliers, it is clear that, historically, coyotes have been mainly found in grasslands and arid lands of the North American west. The authors conclude:

“These data indicate that that coyotes’ range in the late-1800s reflected a longstanding geographic distribution that formed well before the 1700s, not a recent westward ex­pansion. This contradicts widely-cited descriptions of the historical distribution of coy­otes (Figure 1), which suggest that California and the Rocky Mountains as areas that were colonized by coyotes as recently as the 19th and 20th centuries ….. Instead, the historical distribution of coyotes matches areas where non-forested habitats (e.g., grassland, prairie, desert) dominate the climax vegetation, more closely corresponding to earlier range descriptions by Nowak … and Young and Jackson …. The Holocene distribution of coyotes in Mesoamerica remains unclear due to the relatively small number of published histori­cal specimens available from this area.”

Using contemporary reports from the literature and various state wildlife agencies, Hody and Kays construct the following map of the expansion of the coyote’s range in North America to occupy all of the contiguous United States,  all of Mexico as well was expansion into much of Canada, Alaska and Central America as far south as the Panama Canal.


This extensive colonization of new territory is hypothesized to have been facilitated by a variety of circumstances:

  1. The extirpation of other apex-level predators throughout North America, mainly the wolf and the cougar (mountain lion) in Eastern North America and the cougar and jaguar in Central America reducing predation of coyotes by these species and increasing available prey for the coyotes.
  1. The conversion of forested landscapes into agricultural landscapes opening up familiar ecosystems (similar to grasslands) to the coyotes and offering new prey — farm animals such as lambs, goats, chickens etc.  This is believed to be the case in North America and in Central America.
  1. “Hybridization of coyotes with wolves and domestic dogs in eastern North America introduced new genotypes that may have promoted colonization and survival in eastern habitats” (see the story of the “Red Wolf”). In the southeastern United States and in Central America,  hybridization is primarily with domestic dog breeds.  (Oddly, hybridization with wolves and dogs does not appear to be happening on the northwestern front of the coyote’s expansion.)

All-in-all, this mid-level predator is gaining territory (and genetic content) through its incredible adaptability to modern conditions and the environmental changes being made by the continued and changing human influences on landscapes.

Darien_GapThe paper’s authors express fears of what effects the coyote may have on South American ecosystems when the coyote manages to cross the barrier currently presented by the Panama Canal and the dense forests of the Darién Gap in southern Panama and northwestern Columbia. “If coyotes reach South America, it is likely that the grassland and agricultural habitats in Colombia and Venezuela could support viable populations, unless competition with native carnivores restricts them….. its potential effects on native wildlife is entirely unknown.”

The paper is available in pdf format from the publisher.

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Author’s Comment Policy:

North American native cultures commonly contain myths and stories revolving around the coyote, where it is often portrayed as “The Trickster”.   For the Navajo, “coyote is an irresponsible and trouble-making character and he is one of the most important and revered characters in Navajo mythology.”

I currently live at the foot of the Catskill Mountains in Central Hudson Valley of New York State.  The Catskills comprise 1,120 square miles (716,800 acres or 290,000 hectares) of wooded hills and valleys with an average altitude of about 3,000 feet (~1000 meters).  Coyotes live and breed here and are a pest species for ranchers and farmers — one of my sons hunted them for a local farmer.  In the winter, the mountain population moves downslope into the Hudson Valley which is much more densely populated.  It is believed that the presence of coyotes keeps down the feral cat population (a plus).

Throughout New York State, there is a long tradition of scary stories being spread about “coy-dogs” and “coy-wolves”, often used as a “boogeyman” to prevent children was straying too far from home after dark.  “Don’t go too far from the house, the coy-dogs’ll get ya!”

The American coyote is the true winner in the competition for America’s Most Successful Predator (second to Man, of course).

If you want me to respond specifically to a question or comment, address it to “Kip…” so I am sure to see it.

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284 thoughts on “Illegal Immigration? Coyotes Move North, East, and South

  1. I wonder how the people compiling the first map define “woodland”. The Hill Country of Texas, where I live, is open oak and mesquite woodland, or is it something else? Just how many trees, and how close together for it to be classified as “woodland”?

    • Tom ==> The term they use is “forest cover”. I have traveled through Texas and would not have ranked much of the Hill Country as having “forest cover”.

      • Interesting. I traveled over much of the Texas hill country before it was so highly developed (circa 1964) and also more recently. Also lived for two decades on the central Texas coast on 7 acres of mostly live oak forest with dense understory (also true of adjacent property). Despite opening up some of it for habitation (about an acre) we never found any evidence of a coyote. It was sand and easy to detect footprints and we heard them in winter some distance away in mesquite prairie with little understory, more like the density of the hill county.
        We did have deer, bobcats, fox, and very rarely cougars. Feral cats were also rare. The interesting thing was that rattlesnakes were common in the adjacent mesquite areas, but we only found evidence of two, maybe only one, a female who desposited a baby at the front step.
        I have also seen coyotes in many states and habitats, and have long suspected that they are a prairie animal that doesn’t like much undergrowth, which often gets removed even when keeping the trees. Harvey opened up a lot of it. There was an old hunter from Rockport who used to hunt “wolves,” probably large coyotes.

      • We live on the southern edge of Texas Hill Country, right on the Balcones fault. The land to the south and east is mostly open plains extending to the Gulf of Mexico. We are on a ridge in what could be called “forest cover”, which extends hundreds of miles to the west and north. “Forest cover” is in quotes since the dominant tree that is seen all around is called a “cedar” by the locals. (Remember pictures of President Bush cutting “cedars” on his nearby ranch.) It is actually the Ash Juniper. When these “cedars” are removed, a Live Oak forest still remains, though the Live Oaks are barely noticeable when they are among the “cedars”.
        I come from Michigan where I lived near a large recreation area and would hear coyotes all the time, especially on winter moonlit nights. I only saw one once. In Texas, I have seen several coyotes, including several times in our front yard. That’s enough that I carry pepper spray whenever I’m walking in the woods. I never did in Michigan.

  2. In middle Tennessee, they have been moving in along with the people. Lots of the typical reports of pets going missing. 30+ years ago when I moved in, I never thought about them. Now I hear them at night regularly.

    • I saw and heard them regularly in KY and southern Indiana…and heard them in TN. People would tell me stories about coyote attacks on pets in Nashville, but I couldn’t find anything in the papers. I’ve always had small dogs, and they’ve always kept their distance. I have the same scare stories now in FL. I’ve seen some around, but just a bark scares the @$#@# out of them.
      They make beautiful music…especially the pups.

      • In Indiana they have been considered vermin. They used to pay a bounty for each tail brought into the DNR. To this day one can shoot them year around on their own property outside city limits or where the hunter has permission when hunting elsewhere. Despite that the population has increased. And yes they do take small dogs. Took two on different nights within a 1/2 mile radius of my house a couple years ago.
        About 12 mile south of my house there is a small animal rescue farm. It sits on the short chute of an “S: Turn. About 10 years ago my wife was driving to work one dark morning and came around the first turn of the “S” and ran right into a pack of coyotes that had dragged a goat over or under the fence of the rescue farm and had the carcass in the middle of the road. She took two of them out before running off the road onto the grass shoulder and down an incline. Scared the hell out of her when the three or four other remaining coyotes got vicious. They’ll do that when they’re in a pack. She was driving a jeep Cherokee so had no problem getting out of there.
        I like having them around personally and understand the benefits. So when driving the big truck I do my best not to hit the occasional one that gets in front of me. Never took one out.

    • I live just south of Memphis TN in the suburbs and I have seen coyotes in our subdivision and have occasionally heard them calling during the night.

  3. If only the exploding coyote population would eat the exploding whitetail deer population.

    • Felix ==> Coyotes are thought to attack and kill fawns, but seldom full grown deer. Coyote hybrids (such as the “red wolf”) have been known to take deer.

      • See my comment below.
        Coyotes are the main predator of deer fawns. Or were before the big increase in cougar populations, thanks to laws making it hard to hunt them and bears. But laws against poisoning coyotes have increased their numbers, too.

      • “Red wolves” are barely hybrids. They’re just a large local population of coyotes.
        Which is why the totally wasted breeding program in NC, using TX coyotes, is and will remain a failure. As soon as the “red wolves” are released, they breed with coyotes. Because they are coyotes, with very little grey wolf admixture.
        No wonder NC’s local human population so hates the FWS program. An ideal target for budget cutting.

      • Kip Hansen May 25, 2018 at 1:51 pm

        Felix ==> Coyotes are thought to attack and kill fawns,

        Kip, no thinking about it, ….. a pack of coyotes (coy-dogs) will “search” every square foot of ground if they think a WT fawn is “hiding” in the vicinity. They can’t smell it, but they will look until they find it.

      • Samuel,
        Back in the 1970s and ’80s, 75% of fawns in NE Oregon were killed by coyotes. I don’t know what the figure is now.

      • When I lived in Indiana, they definitely used to take down full grown deer. They pack up, the more densely populated they are after they’ve started to eliminate a lot of the smaller game.

      • Kip Hansen, when the “eastern coyote” crosses with the Canadian red wolf, it’s called the tweed wolf or bush wolf, first discovered in 1907 near Tweed, Ontario.
        They are all over the place in Lake County the other collar counties around Chicago. They run loose in Chicago. A research team from Ohio started tracking their movements by radio collar, and found that a hunting female will cover as much as 90 miles in one night of hunting. That is one busy coyote.
        They are extremely aggressive around here, because no one is hunting them. Too many suburban developments make it nearly impossible to hunt them. They will chase and attack your dogs in your own backyard and leap the fence, chasing them into the house, especially if it’s a pack of coyotes with females in heat. They get hit by cars and trucks, chase and nip at children who don’t know that they aren’t pet dogs, and in general are a freaking nuisance.
        I’m feeding a stray calico cat that has been bumming food off me for about a year now. So far, she’s safe and I think she’s aggressive enough to take down a black bear (also moving eastward from DeKalb) and there is a record of a young male cougar who got lost in Chicago and was cornered, shot and killed by 8 Chicago cops, because they couldn’t wait for the DNR people to get there. Idiots!
        Basically, they are here to stay. Not going away. And they will kill your dog as a territorial move.

      • Kip,
        I would not say that coyotes “seldom” attack adult deer. In the snow, it’s common, but even in good WX, they can pack up to rip vital bits out of deer, then eat them alive. Even mature bucks:

        • Felix ==> The buck in the (tediously put together) video appears to have been wounded even in the first frame….the fact that it beds down might support this. To me this looks like a wounded deer bleeding out internally — with coyotes following the blood scent and harassing the dying animal. Interesting video though.

      • Oh, noes!
        The dreaded chupacapra has invaded North America!
        And is now the chupavenado!

      • EJ,
        Great pix.
        Coyotes don’t kill just the old, sick and young. When they pack up, they can kill healthy adult white tails and even mulies. One darts in and takes a bite out of a vital or sensitive area, or wherever it can. Then the pack trails the victim, taking more bites when opportunity arises.
        Please see the video posted above.

      • Above posted out of place.
        But it shows how coyotes kill healthy adult deer.
        The wound on the deer at the beginning was inflicted by the coyotes. That’s how they worry their prey to death.
        I’ve seen deer carcasses where there are no wolves or dogs, and the teeth marks aren’t from cougars.

      • Granted, the carcass could have been scavenged, but while cross-country skiing, I’ve come across the scene of an obvious attack in the snow, with tracks and blood trail associated with one set of remains. It also appeared in that case that the coyotes had returned to scavenge the bones.

      • Jeff ==> Mostly correct — they do take fawns however — and the sick and wounded. Further south, where there are larger wolf/coyote hybrids, there is some concern for first year deer.

        • Felix ==> The link you give (from a gardening site with recipes, in 2013) is not dependable. It depends on only two other articles which can not be located on the web today (not real studies or journal articles). Many of the comments under the original piece are contradicting the main point.
          In the larger environmental field, coyotes are not considered to be the main control on deer populations.

        • Coyotes are not much of a check on deer in this part of Texas, as the deer are numerous enough to be a road hazard.

      • PS: I’ve killed hundreds of coyotes since the 1960s, without noticeable effect on their population.
        To include denning, I’ve probably killed thousands.

      • Kip Hansen May 25, 2018 at 3:08 pm
        They are where I live.
        How many more studies do you want? What wild animal do you suppose is the main control on coyotes? Humans are doing a piss poor job of controlling both deer and coyotes.
        Western UP of MI: Coyotes #1 cause of deer mortality, followed by bobcats, a three-way tie among hunters, unknown predators and undetermined causes, and #4 wolves.
        Again, snow might be a contributory factor.
        Every study I’ve read or participated in has found coyotes the main predator of fawns, but their effect on overall deer population is disputed.
        From the U. of MI’s Animal Diversity Web:
        “Hunting deer, on the other hand, calls for teamwork. Coyotes may take turns pursuing the deer until it tires, or they may drive it towards a hidden member of the pack.”

        • Felix ==> “…found coyotes the main predator of fawns, but their effect on overall deer population is disputed.” Yes — that is correct — coyotes prey on fawns — but are not believed to have a major effect on overall deer populations when weighed against other deer population limiters.

      • Tom Halla May 25, 2018 at 3:18 pm
        Almost everyone around here (inland PNW) has hit deer, whose population has exploded. But it would be worse without coyotes.

      • Visiting my daughter and son-in-law outside of Fort Collins Colorado I saw a coyote of German Shepard size ( 90-120 lbs.) and speed that I believe could easily take down the average Pennsylvania Whitetail Doe-not so much a Colorado Mule Deer or Elk. The coyotes we have in Pennsylvania are not much bigger than 40-50 lbs. but they are everywhere in our state.

        • Carbon Bigfoot ==> The German Shepard sized animal could well have been a wolf there in Colorado. 40-50 lbs is BIG for a coyote.

          • Kip I had my son-in-law with me , a serious hunter in Colorado who corrected my view that it had to be a wolf—-it was within 50 yds. and I would trust his assessment as he has harvested many coyotes over his 40 year hunting career.

      • The two largest coyotes I ever shot weighed over 50#, after losing a lot of blood and in one case guts. I weighed them because they were noticeably larger than average.
        The record is from WY, at 75#, IIRC.

      • Some obviously might be, now that wolves have been reintroduced in my area, but I shot those two decades ago.

      • That may be true where you are, Jeff, but where I am, they hunt in packs and they will go after and take down adult deer.

        • Auto ==> I’m voting with the wildlife experts there who suspect that that animal is a wolf/dog hybrid — and as dogs come in an astonishing variety of shapes and sizes the results of these hybrids do too.

  4. Coyotes are replacing foxes…..foxes have a much higher density than coyotes….because of their higher density, foxes kill a lot more small prey…even though they both tend to eat the same prey
    Studies are looking at what effect this will have on the spread of lyme disease and other diseases
    These things amaze me….using the same criteria that’s used when they claim some animal is going extinct….coyotes would be considered an invasive species

    • Latitude said:

      Coyotes are replacing foxes

      .. I can envisage the next headline (elsewhere): Climate Change affects Red Foxes, < panic, panic, panic> Soon, Red Foxes will disappear from their traditional habitat. Without XYZ millions of tax dollars, Red Foxes will extinctify …
      One could almost write the rest of the article without any further ado, and there would be no word at all about a competing genus.

    • Latitude ==> Do you have a link or reference for the fox-coyote linkage? I’d be interested to see it.

      • West Virginia DNR:
        “Red and Grey Fox
        Although coyotes and foxes share a common range throughout much of North America, there appears to be an inverse relationship between the densities of coyotes and that of foxes. High densities of coyotes tend to limit the distribution of fox territories and their numbers. Biologists have noted the decline of foxes following the colonization of coyotes into an area. Foxes apparently avoid core home ranges of coyote to avoid contact with the stronger predator. The territory of the grey fox occupies more interior woodland and apparently encounters are less common than in the more open land territory of the red fox. Most studies have concluded that foxes are not eliminated but become less common when coyotes invade their territory.”

        No references provided in that htm… suggest contact for possible supporting info.

  5. They are thriving because they are too low to the ground to be chopped up by subsidized windmill blades or fried by subsidized solar CSP towers, and too smart to be run over by silent EVs.

    • Additionally, the ‘environmentalist’ don’t own guns, and would never shoot anything. Even if it threatens Mittens the cat.

  6. Some 20 years ago, the coyote started to appear in residential areas in Vancouver. They have learned to live in the city. Over on the North Shore next to the local mountains, wild critter intrusions include black bears and the rare mountain lion.
    So the plagues of city life now include:
    Urban mountain lions, urban bears, urban coyotes, urban raccoons, urban skunks and urban socialists.
    Bob Hoye

  7. Growing up in central Wisconsin during the late 1950s to 1970s, we never heard coyotes yipping or calling. Now, you can often get a response if you imitate a coyote howl around dusk.

    • J Mac ==> Thanks for weighing in from Wisconsin — where i spent summers with my maternal grandparents on their German dairy farm.

  8. Hey Kip, keep up the good work.
    Too bad Andy Revkin stopped his blog. One of the few from MSM which tolerated dissenters, fomented some level of dialogue and attempted to call out the alarmists when the shark jump was too large even for the gullible. Other sites merely censor any dissent.
    I still think a Dot Earth wine & cheese party on the banks of the Hudson someday would be a great idea.
    P.S. A few coyotes can scare the bejeesus out of you when you’re lying in your sleeping bag under a starry night and the yelping increases in volume and proximity.

    • Kurt ==> The coyote sounds much scarier than it really is. They are very skittish and flee at the slightest movement under normal circumstances. There are reports of urban coyotes becoming much less shy — even bold.

      • KIp – When coyotes become acclimated to people they are potentially dangerous. Over a decade ago, I read a study of 90 coyote attacks on people in California. As I recall most people got bit trying to protect their pets, but there were also attacks on children, campers in sleeping bags, and visitors to national parks (presumably due to feeding). A young woman hiking alone in a Canadian park was killed by coyotes a couple of years ago and there are a very large number of recent reports of attacks on people, especially children. When I lived in Alberta and walked to work in the predawn across the North Saskatchewan Valley I saw coyotes regularly – and nothing skittish about them. Several times I was shadowed by one or two and it made me feel uncomfortable, but watching 7 of them, one by one, break cover and run across the frozen river towards my direction was distinctly disturbing. The urban myth that coyotes won’t attack people is just another misconception about wildlife. We have the same myth here in Queensland about dingoes, that is until some poor kid gets killed by a dingo, and then the media is full of excuses like ‘it must have been starving’. I notice the same ’emaciated’ excuse already has been floated about the cougar that attacked two bicyclists the other day. Yeah, yeah, you are more likely to be bitten by a domestic dog than a wild predator, but people and dogs interact several orders of magnitude more than people and wild predators. You need to treat wild carnivores with respect.

        • DaveW ==> ” You need to treat wild carnivores with respect.” and that’s line — never forget that a wild animal, no matter that it looks like a cute long-eared doggie, is a wild animal and operates mostly on instinct.

      • Tom,
        The sylvan reservoir of Black Death is rodents of all types, but especially squirrels in the US West.
        Not to mention hantavirus in mice.

    • P.S. A few coyotes can scare the bejeesus out of you when you’re lying in your sleeping bag under a starry night and the yelping increases in volume and proximity.

      Followed by the screams of their prey being eaten alive ….

  9. We have seen coyotes in Pinellas county Fl, one of the most densly populated areas in the state. They travel in power line corridors which give them an undisturbed path through the county and good access to city and county parks. They have been frequently reported in my neighborhood, which is adjacent to a large transmission corridor. I saw my first one in the early 90s which corresponds nicely to the map shown. Very interesting, and thanks for the post.

    • Coyotes do well living at the edges (and sometimes in the middle of) human civilization

    • James ==> The study reports that highways (and this would include power transmission corridors) have provided the coyote with expansion routes through areas it otherwise would not have been able to pass through, especially in Central America.

  10. I recall reading a long while ago that they are territorial and cover about 12,000 acres per pack. All I can tell you is when I hear them near my neighborhood (rural, but large), within a few days the lost cat signs go up from the irresponsible owners who let them out at night.

    • ossqss ==> The coyotes say “Thanks for the free meals. Keep those cats coming!”
      Cats allowed to roam free are FAIR GAME for coyotes. People should keep their pets in their homes or at least confined to their own yards.

  11. When I moved to north Florida in the 1990s there were still people, including some environmentalist, that refused to accept coyotes were here. They either didn’t notice or refuse to accept that the pointy nosed, reddish dog like carcass on the side of the road wasn’t a dog. Now the signs of coyote are obvious, especially when one’s cat or small dog goes missing shortly after letting them out in the evening. We live a half mile for a lake that regular goes down a sinkhole. When it disappeared altogether for a while in ca 1996 coyotes moved into a park along the shoreline of the lake. We would see fresh footprints crossing the exposed bottom of the lake along with white tail deer almost every morning. Now we have coyotes and white tail deer a mile away in the small park.
    Kip, I would note, there was a paper discussing how coyote populations change when hunted and how they affect white tail deer populations and fawn survival. I don’t remember the reference and no longer have the paper. What I remember is that if the local dominate coyote that is predating fawns is killed several in the pecking order will actually end up taking more fawns than when the dominate coyote was still around. I don’t know what it would mean for sheep, goats and chickens. The paper also discussed changes in white tail deer populations and behavior. When coyotes first arrive in an area white tail fawn morality goes up. After the coyotes have been around a while the white tail fawn mortality declines. The authors honestly admitted that they didn’t understand the mechanism or what changed in deer behavior.

    • Not only coyotes eat pets. I remember once in Ocala forest when I was breaking camp at dawn in a Forest Service Campground a bobcat walked by quite calmly carrying a dead cat.

      • cat is a bobcat favorite.
        one of the best way (from what I’ve heard … I would not do it) to trap bobcat is to use crying house cat as bait.

      • “Pusscat” is also a favorite of Australian Aborigines.
        And of course in Chinese restaurants.

      • News report from Bainbridge Island in Washington State was about a big old diseased tree that had a large bald eagle nest. The tree had to be cut down as it was rotting and dangerous. The eagle nest includes a large collection of cat collars… more than two dozen IIRC.

        • James ==> I brief look didn’t turn up this report — do you have a link? It is mentioned in a few blogs but may be an urban legend.
          I know folks who have lost cats to hawks….

      • Cougars kill livestock for fun, when they’re not hungry, just as house cats do birds. They’re programmed to kill.
        Cougars will eat just the udder of a cow as a dairy snack and leave her to bleed to death, without eating any other part of her. Cats like milk. They’ll kill her calf just for giggles, too.

      • ““Pusscat” is also a favorite of Australian Aborigines.”
        Yes, and the virtual disappearance of small native mammals in most of Australia is probably due to the decline in pusscat hunting which previously kept down the number of cats. Pusscats was apparently favored as prey because of their habit of climbing into trees when chased, which made them easy to kill.

    • Edwin are you describing Lake Jackson by chance in Tallahassee which often disappears and reappears?

      • Unrepresented, in this case yes, But many lakes in Florida depending on the rainfall and drought cycle also will disappear. Lake Jackson and another half way between Tallahassee and Jacksonville were the only two lakes of many that “disappeared”, especially in Central Florida, not plugged that year by emergency permit. Emergency permit because of concerns with polluting the aquifer. Now they are dumping die down several “sinkhole” lakes around Tallahassee trying to determine where the water goes, though it shouldn’t be a “secret.” The concern is now about downstream springs like Wakulla.

    • Edwin are you describing Lake Jackson by chance in Tallahassee which often disappears and reappears?

    • Edwin – May 25, 2018 at 1:29 pm

      When I moved to north Florida in the 1990s there were still people, including some environmentalist, that refused to accept coyotes were here. They either didn’t notice or refuse to accept that the pointy nosed, reddish dog like carcass on the side of the road wasn’t a dog.

      Shur nuff, ….. Edwin, …. I experienced the same “mindset” in the local residents when I moved back to central West Virginia from upstate New York in 1983, ….. bout 35 years ago.
      I told the “locals” they were “coy-dogs” because that was what the NYS DNR was referring to them as and the “fact” that I had personally “shot n’ killed” 3 or 4 of them when living in NYS.
      Most all Northeastern and Eastern “coy-dogs” (coyotes) resemble a German Shepard in size and color, ….. except they have a “bushy” tail and “beady” eyes and “pointy” nose, …. in other words, a “Fox face”.
      And the White Tail deer here in central WV, which used to be “scarce as hen’s teeth” when I was a teenager, has increased exponentially after I-79 was constructed in the mid-1970s, to become a “public nuisance” causing vehicle wrecks and other property damage. Black Bears have also returned to central WV.
      Cheers, Sam C

      • “I had personally “shot n killed” 3 or 4 of them when living in NYS”. Why? I have walked and bicycled amongst them without ever feeling threatened (Fish Creek Park, Alberta) Sounds like your are on a big ego trip. Maybe it’s time you put down your gun and did your shooting with a camera.

      • Art – May 25, 2018 at 4:02 pm

        [quoting SamC] “I had personally “shot n killed” 3 or 4 of them when living in NYS”.
        Why? I have walked and bicycled amongst them without ever feeling threatened

        I believe, I believe, …..shur you have, …… Art, ….. shur you have.
        The invisible man on the invisible bicycle …… walking amongst all the wild animals in the Alberta bush.
        Art, do those wild animals “talk back” when you talk to them?

    • Alas, the 51 cat collar eagle tree seems a likely urban myth, but there is at least one valid eagle cam video of Bald Eagles dismembering a cat and feeding it to their chicks – it made a big splash in April 2016. If I had to bet on a bird being a regular hunter of cats, I’d go for the Great Horned Owl – they hunt when cats prowl and are known to take skunks. The StarTribune article has a decent overview of eagles, cat collars and brassieres:

  12. Coyotes are common in Eastern Ontario where I live. In my immediate region they are forest animals, but seem capable of adapting to almost any environment. A few years ago we had deep snow that froze hard on the surface so that coyotes could run over it but the heavier deer broke through the surface and were fatally slowed down. For several weeks we heard coyote packs bringing down deer almost every night (a rhythmic yipping sound as they chased the deer, followed by a crescendo as the deer were brought down, and then abrupt silence since it’s difficult to yip with your mouth full). The coyote population exploded with all the available food. However, the following spring there were too many coyotes for the readily available food supply, so they migrated into suburban areas and fed from garbage, cats and small dogs. A very adaptable species.

  13. They don’t compete for seats in the classroom, or beds in the hospital, or jobs in the economy. Although, they do share more than one native American species, individual and diverse, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

    • Joel ==> Lots of wolf-coyote and coyote-dog hybrids around — a very well known and acknowledged phenomena. The “endangered” Red Wolf is a coyote-wolf hybrid mistakenly identified as a wolf species and now wildlife officials struggle to keep it from going “extinct”.
      Thanks for the story and link.

      • We introduced “red wolves” to several barrier island in the Florida Panhandle. The environmentalist were shocked to find out that they dug up and ate loggerhead turtle eggs, a threaten species.

      • Kip: This story from 2009.
        Think there was another attack and killing of a young woman – just can’t find the link right now. Then we got the: Gov reminders – when in the woods don’t wear ear buds, make noise and best not to go alone and etc.
        We live in eastern Ontario, closer to the US border we have coyotes and they are far bolder than what I’m use to from my home turf, which is northern Ontario. Wolves and bears concerned me there, coyotes not so much but now I think differently due to hybrids that are now part of the scene and I do love my forest walks.
        Few years ago, 2 rather big coyotes starting hanging around our property, after the deer, wild turkey and other forest creatures since we’re in a forested area among farm lands. They were very bold – not acting afraid of us when we yelled at them, they only walked quicker when we’d shot the .22 at them. Then they killed our little dog – sneak attack right at the bottom of the deck stairs one early evening. Later they attacked our neighbours dogs- but they are bigger and survived with some needing stitches for injuries, then farmer a few concessions over reported that 2 coyotes had attacked their cow giving birth – they too had to get the gun to scare them off. They lost the cow and the calf.
        Locals went and hunted them – got some and at least no rabies thus far.
        It was then that I did look up and found out that they may have been hybrids – looked a lot like a German Shepard, size was as well, but with very plush tails.

  14. Kip, I used to live in Saugerties, Clintondale, and eventually graduated from Highland in 1973. I lived right on the Hudson for a while (I was almost a troll…our house was almost under the Mid-Hudson Bridge across from Poughkeepsie). Never saw a coyote there.
    Now I live in a holler in Central Kentucky, on the edge of the Dripping Springs Escarpment. Lots of trees and springs. Karst region. Mammoth Caves is about a half hour drive south, Lincoln’s Birthplace is the next wide spot up the road 9 miles to the north, in Hodgenville. Just to give you an idea of where we are. Some open areas where there’s farms, but give it a chance and the trees will come back fast.
    We moved here in 1983. Locals talked a lot about how they never had coyotes until about 5 years before that, so late 70’s, when the Ohio River froze over for a while and they moved across it and they are here to stay. This jives real nice to that map you provided. Solid red (1900) along the Mississippi, then the cold winters in the 70’s and there you are.
    They seem to have adapted well to forests vs grasslands. I hear them now and then, moving through the trees, but not often. We have wild cats and black bears around here in these forests and the local wisdom is that they don’t hang around when there are wild cats and bears. Ever hear that?
    Thanks. Good article.

    • Grandpa- coyotes are definitely in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia- so are bears and wild cats- so I think the “wisdom” isn’t true- or maybe the coyotes just pack up more to protect themselves from the bigger creatures.

    • Granpa ==> The study authors hypothesize that coyotes move in when larger apex predators move out (or are hunted out). Bears do not compete with coyotes, but cougars/mountain lions do — and they prey on coyotes as well.

    • John ==> Thanks for the report from Michigan — home to my paternal grandparents.

  15. Saw one today…about 10:00 AM ….it ran across the road , carrying its’ lunch …. a cat from the farmstead there on the edge of the road…. rural Ks .

  16. In Kansas, and elsewhere in the Midwest, feral cats have decimated quail populations. Coyotes are their primary predator, but eradication programs aimed at coyotes are still being pushed at the state level. One those idiotic “catch -22 situations.”
    Interesting article.

    • John D. Smith ==> are you saying that coyotes are the primary predator of feral cats or quail?

      • Coyotes prey on feral cats, very successfully. My experience with coyotes is that they carefully choose their battles. Their primary diet is small mammals.
        Thank you again for the interesting article. Coyotes are certainly adaptable creatures.

  17. I don’t think that “Hody and Kays” spent enough time on the ground researching these sites.
    I came across my first ex-coyote in the mid 1960s in Pennsylvania; it was a carcass. That was along the Delaware River just north of Trenton.

    Pictures dating to the 1930s have appeared over the years in the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s magazine Game News. These animals look like the same coyotes being killed today. The first coyote identified as an animal similar to what we today call the “eastern coyote” was killed in Tioga County in 1940.”

    Over the decades, hunters regularly reported coyotes where coyotes were not supposed to live. Game Wardens were often frustrated by an inability to get reliable photographs and other evidence, to prove to their researchers that coyotes really did exist.
    Since, moving to Virginia, back in the early 1990s; one often hears the coyotes roaming along the Rappahannock River; usually between 1:00 AM and dawn.
    According to the “peer reviewed research” map above, those coyotes did not arrive till after 2000.
    Coyotes are masters at keeping a low profile. “Hody and Kays” need to get out more.
    One does wonder why “Hody and Kays” are worrying about coyotes in South America? Or is that worry, solely for alarmist effects?

    • ATheoK ==> You may be seeing a difference between occasional transient animals and a well-established breeding population.
      The same situation exists today with the mountain lion in NY State — the DEP/Wildlife people insist that no breeding population exists but I have personal acquaintances that have seen them more than once in their Catskill foothills-Hudson Valley back yards.

      • Numerous cougar (big cougar!) sitings in central PA mountains.
        Please tell them they cannot go north across the PA-NY statelion without registering in with the NY DEP authorities.

        • RACookPE1978 ==> The Ny DEP may have posted signs to that effect — but possibly the cougars are crossing at night and can’t read the signs in the dark.

    • ATheoK ==> The “fear” about coyotes invading South America is simply that it would be a major biological event — a invasion of a highly adaptable predator species — the results of which can not be predicted.

      • If they’re looking for food in Venezuela, the coyotes will have to provide proof of a valid voter ID card.
        On the other hand, those who are starving may see them as a food source, themselves. Hmmm….. the possibilities….

  18. Studied up on this for the ‘red wolf’ example in essay No Bodies in ebook Blowing Smoke, plus personal interest in the many coyotes (and recently the occaisonal visiting grey wolfpack) roaming my uplands Wisconsin dairy farm in Iowa county just south of the river. Easy to tell the difference—coyotes yap at the moon at night, wolves howl.
    The removal of apex predators like wolves and eastern mountain lioms did not IMO facilitate the growth in coyote range, because coyote prey is stuff like field mice and rabbits, not large game like white tail deer. Coyotes hunt solitary, not in packs, and are not large enough to tackle white tails except as winter kill. Range speead is more likely change in habitat. For example, southwest Wisconsin was largely prairie savannah (evidenced by the old burr oaks) supporting deer and buffalo, or hardwood forests supporting wild turkey and ruffed grouse and squirrels when the original fsrm cabin was built in the 1880’s. Now it is ideal mixed habitat for mice, rabbits, grouse, squirrel, turkey, and whitetails given the mix of hardwood lots, pasture, and contour cropland. Apex preditors are fox, coon, redtail hawks, and coyotes for the small game, and humans for the ‘big’ game turkey and whitetails.
    Interestingly, the ‘red wolf’ (a fertile coyote/eastern grey wolf hybrid) can pack hunt whitetails and calves, which is why it was hunted almost to ‘extinction’. The eastern grey wolf was in fact extirpated from the US and southern Canada, but the smaller ‘red’ wasn’t because it could revert to coyote prey.

    • ristvan ==> I think the apex predator/wolf/mountain lion connection is not competition for game but the fact that both the wolf and mountain lion will prey on coyotes.

    • ristvan – I don’t know about the coyotes way down south in Wisconsin, but in central Alberta packs are common enough. I’ve seen 7 at a time on something’s trail and they commonly hunt in pairs. I watched a pair trying to catch a large farm dog on a frozen slough – one laid in ambush while the other feinted towards the dog until it gave chase. The dog was not quite dumb enough, but almost made coyote dinner. I’ve been told that packs can take adult white tails, but never saw it happen.

    • And they do, at times, hunt in packs. There was on evening where I listened to them, for more than an hour, taking a white tail (not a juvenile). They had it trapped in a creek bed about 700 yards from my office. Not many pieces were left the next day, but it was obvious it was an average sized doe.
      It seems a little weird, but they prefer to poop on the concrete, rather than the gravel, and hardly at all in the grass, as they moved through at night. The poop was usually deer hair … not much else there.
      Their least favorite part of the deer seemed to be the forearm (? the double bones) … they always left these laying around for my dog to play with. And again, these were from adult deer.

    • I live about 8 miles from Illinois Beach State Park. There is a pack of coyotes up there which will take down an adult deer. They may have a bit of wolf in them, but they are hunting in groups, not solitary. South of me in the collar counties, there may be enough edible trash for them to scavenge what they need without hunting, but they are not solitary critters around here, at all.

  19. One place where coyote numbers have fallen recently is around Yellowstone park. The newly reintroduced wolves seem to consider them competition and a reasonable snack.

    • DMA ==> Yes, I believe that is correct – the wolves will eat coyotes if they can catch them.

  20. Kip, my wife, the Coyote Lady, thanks you.
    The downside? She is hectoring me with arcane coyote facts.
    [The mods must ask: Is that better, or worse, than being badgered by all canine facts? .mod]

    • Dave ==> ….and all my best to the Coyote Lady. I don’t believe there are “arcane coyote facts” — all coyote facts are preeminently important.

      • She agrees with you. Normal people don’t.
        Additionally, she is all about anything canine. When we met, she said she liked dogs. I missed hearing the ‘s.’
        Anybody want an old, blind and lame Pug, a huge, goofy Dalmatian and B.B. King’s leftover German Shepard with bad hips?

      • Dave==> I was lucky enough to see B.B.King live on January 19, 1970 at the Whisky-A-Go-Go in West Hollywood, CA . It was a Monday night for the early show — patrons under 21 were allowed as it was a “dinner club” at that hour. The place was empty with the exception of myself and my college friend (down from UCSB), two prostitutes at the bar, and Stephen Stills, Neil Young, and Richie Furay (then the major part of the band Buffalo Springfield) who had stopped in to catch BB without all the nonsense of rock-and-roll fans. BB did not disappoint — he performed his whole stage act as if the house were packed to the rafters — an unforgettable musical moment for me.

  21. When I moved east about fifty years ago I was surprised to find coyotes. Out west they are very shy of people. I had seen a coyote once only. My buddy the wildlife biologist hadn’t seen them much more often.
    In southern Ontario (Canada) I have seen them on numerous occasions. It seems that they are able to adapt their behaviour.
    Arctic Foxes also seem to be able to adapt. They approached our campsites in the Arctic and seemed to know how far each of us could throw a snowball.
    One year we were visited by wolves. I skied past their lair one day, I didn’t stop and stayed a hundred yards away. We never saw them again. It seemed to me that they were much shyer than the foxes.
    Some critters, raccoons being a prime example, seem quite happy in human environments. Others aren’t. It will come as a surprise to some people that our urban and suburban neighbourhoods host wildlife in densities greater than the surrounding countryside. link

    • commie ==> Foxes — London, England, had a problem with urban foxes in people back gardens! Very adaptable, yes.

      • Kip
        Make that……….London, England, HAS a problem with urban foxes in people back gardens!
        They are vermin, and as common as muck.Regularly see one sauntering up our garden path, and the breeding and whelping seasons are a nightmare with screaming during the night.

    • @commieBob – must be the north western coyotes. They’re not at all shy down here in the southwest. Although the closest I have come was when two playing pups literally ran across my feet up in the Catalina foothills; they aren’t shy, but they have other business to deal with, you know, so don’t hang around? Like chasing and failing to catch roadrunners (yes, I have seen that many, many times – the locals have apparently never heard of this Acme Corporation…).
      On crossing the Darien Gap – that will be some trick, although I wouldn’t put it past them. One of the nastiest environments to be found on this planet.

  22. I’ve lived in SoCal for almost 70 years, The coyote population has definitely boomed during that time. It used to be they were mainly in the foothills and now they inhabit all zones from the mountains to the sea. I live by the beach and coyote sightings are common despite the high human density. Cats are fair prey but a local well done investigation of their stomach contents (culling in an over run area) showed very little cat remains. Mostly rodents, birds, and garbage/throw away food. They are good scavengers. I attribute the increase in coyote population to two things …. 1. As mentioned, reduction of predators, and 2. They stay away from humans and really don’t bother them (other than an occasional pet meal) with their nocturnal lifestyle.

  23. Ooops–it is under Our Friends
    Then scroll down to “Lunch in the Shade”
    Long time ago.

  24. I think coyotes understand the pecking order.
    We’ll let them eat around the edges, just as long as they don’t get too aggressive.

      • I don’t know whether the coyotes involved in those attacks had already reproduced or not. The Canadian coyote was big enough to kill a woman.
        Unlike wolves, all coyotes get to breed.

  25. I live SE of Seattle, in an area that is rural-going-suburban. I have seen coyotes both day and night here. In one case, I arose at home around 3am to use the facilities. Glancing out a window, I saw a coyote trotting right down the middle of the road, swinging its head left to right continuously in a suburban adapted hunt.
    On another occasion a few years back, I was elk hunting and camped up in the Cascades, south of Mount Stuart by the north fork of the Teanaway River. It was a very cold night (15F or so) and I had crawled into a double layer of sleeping bags early. In the wee hours of the morning, I was startled awake to the chilling sounds of a major ‘dog’ fight. It had the hair on the back of my neck standing straight up! As I sat there chilled and listening, I realized it was a pack of wolves killing a coyote. After less than a minute, it concluded with a harsh death cry… and the normal night sounds returned. It took me a bit to get back to sleep…. even after verifying my firearm was in the tent with me.

  26. Let me put it this way, if I was a coyote, I might raid the garbage cans or mouse hunt near civilization, but always keeping in mind my cousins that never returned.
    Those flat shooting rifles would give me pause.

  27. They’re all over the place here in southwest Ohio. Several months ago one killed a small dog that my mom occasionally takes care of in Montgomery. It’s a very well-developed area. It’s right next to Indian Hill though which is much less developed and more of a safe haven for all kinds of wildlife. We’ve even spotted potential Coywolves running around too.

    • A cougar killed a Bay Area jogger, too.
      Cougar human kills are more common than coyote.

    • J Mac ==> Yes, read that report. Very sad and unusual.
      Commenter “Felix” has been posting a lot of comments about “coyote attacks” — one
      very rare instance of a fatality due to blood loss from multiple bites. Coyote “attacks” usually involve simple bites and scratches and are not attempts to kill or eat people.
      Coyote “attacks” are extremely rare compared to attacks by domestic dogs.

      • Comparison with dogs isn’t very instructive. There are more dogs and they live in closer association with humans and our pets and livestock.
        Hundreds of thousands of coyotes are killed every year due to attacks on people, pets and livestock, yet their numbers are increasing.

      • And of course there would be a lot more lethal coyote attacks if family members weren’t able to rescue the kids in time.

  28. South of Silicon Valley you will find the small town of Coyote and Coyote Creek. They’ve been there a long time… The notion that there are not / were not Coyotes in California is just silly. Just drive out there in the evening and listen to them howling in the hills…

  29. Kip: I’m originally from the plains in Canada but in 1971 moved to Ottawa, and then bought a farm east of the city to raise a big family on. At that time we could hear howling, particularly on a winter’s night, which I was told were “brush wolves” by the locals. I began to see them run across the road or the fields. They were blonde furred and were considerably larger than what I knew to be coyotes. The municipality would occasionally hire hunters to thin them out once sheep and other domestic stock were reported killed. I (like the locals) thought they were a type of wolf from the size but later learned they were a hybrid.
    We get wildlife in and around Ottawa that seem to find their way here along the forested banks of the Ottawa river. Weve even had a moose jump a fence and land in a swimming pool and needed to be rescued. A cow moose walked along the rwy tracks with her calf to forest around the International airport. They had to put up moose signs along the airport parkway. This year a fox moved into our neighborhood which is only 20 minutes walk from the Canadian House of Parliament. He runs by people walking their dogs and seems to be preying on mice – you see him (?) with two or three mice in his mouth at a time which makes me think he has a family nearby. He doesnt seem to be bothering cats and squirrels. Deer, too, are common, occasionally looking bewildered in a shopping center parking lot.

  30. Kip– Just read the article, great science, still a lot around, but appreciate you putting it out.

  31. Have seen coyotes in PA that looked more like a wolves though smaller than wolves I have seen, but not much. In Ohio have seen multicolor coyotes like some here in Wyoming and also quite large. Here I have seen and shot large 40+ lb coyotes and full grown ones more like 30 lbs all different color patterns. Problem is they interbreed with dogs back east, in particular, and they will eat everything from grasshoppers to deer and elk and will pack up if need be. Watched a family group of 5 try to take a lion kill from the lion sitting on it. The lion hangs on my wall. He did run off the coyotes though.
    If a coyote can chew it, it will eat it. If it’s not food it will puke it up and eat it one more time just to make sure it’s not food, just like a dog. That is why they are so successful. Sneaky like a cat and just as good a mouser. Two small ones will take a large dog. Quite a critter, in my book.

  32. “Goddess of Kip” just finished 2nd in the 8th race at Arlington Park.
    Paid $6 to place, $3 to show.
    Made me $2.

  33. The coyotes in Nebraska are skinny, lucky to weigh 40lbs. and travel in small packs or alone. In the Ozarks I have a place where they’re huge. 70lbs. wouldn’t surprise me and also where I got to see a “Red Wolf” up close and personal. In the Ozarks the packs number much higher than in Nebraska.

  34. Coytes moving eastwards wiped out all ground dwelling birds along the way, each of which were known to eat up to 10000 ticks a day. Wonder why tick population in the east exploded?
    Stan Jakuba, victim in Connecticut

    • Turkeys and grouse on the nest make quick easy meals. With the loss of the hens as well as no recruitment and in a very few years there is a complete population collapse. I personally watched the hen population of grouse and turkeys virtually vanish over just a couple of years. Young birds were non-existent. The experts as usual called it a bad hatch. Where did the hens go?????? Answer: BAD HATCH! Same answer year after year. Imagine being known as “xxxxxx “bad hatch” xxxxxx”.

  35. I see coyotes running down the streets of my town all the time – though usually they stay in the grassy areas. We have had two attacks on our chickens in 3 years as well. (For various reasons the chickens managed to survive.)
    Not that in Southern US a coyote is also the term for people who smuggle others over the border for money and or extortion.
    Another note – if you pronounce the “e” it is more of a Spanish pronunciation which is probably why we got Wiley E Coyote – because of the Spanish influence in CA. Rest of US the “e” is silent.

    • It certainly is among natives of the interior PNW, but we are overrun with immigrants from other states who pronounce the final “e”.
      The Spanish “coyote” comes from Nahuatl (Aztec) “coyotl”.

    • Coh-YOH-tay is more a California Spanish pronunciation, while pure Anglo is Kye-Oh-tee.

      • That Spanish pronunciation works for Mexico, which has zheismo, ie LL and Y are pronounced “zh” or even “ch”, rather than standard “Y” as an English vowel. The opposite is yeismo.
        Zheismo is even more pronounced in Argentina, and to a lesser extent in Chile. It’s spreading. It’s now even advancing in parts of Spain.
        Nova translates its programs into both Castillian and American Spanish. In Argentina, “estrella” (star) is pronounced “estrezha”. Many TV shows also dub Spanish in two versions. Ditto Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese.

  36. We have lived in a house near Sarasota Florida since 1978 and watched the transition from zero coyotes to having occasional sightings on our street… [The feral cats are all gone now.] They scared the daylights out of me when they started a loud confab outside my window!…..Would like to hear it again……

  37. It has been several years ago since I researched the coyote issue in Virginia. I spent too much time and effort to rehash it again so I’ll call it as I best remember it.
    USF&W captured about 450 so-called “red wolves” from Texas / Louisiana swamp/coastal regions beginning about 1970 or so (too many alligators?). Then they declared them extinct in the wild. They picked a couple of dozen for breeding using criteria that “that one looks best”. Western Virginia shortly thereafter got big coyotes and in the form of packs or family groups as they say. Go figure.
    Now the BIG QUESTION is: What did they do with the other original 425 or so? Did they euthanize the lot of rejects of the few remaining so-called “red wolves” or turn them loose? To euthanize some of the “extinct in the wild” wolves would be a serious crime especially if there were only 450 in the world. According to the VA DGIF it would have been unlawful to release them in VA without the approval of the DGIF. Biologists that I spoke to claim that none were ever released as far as they know. Pal/colleague effort? They sure don’t want to discuss it.
    What did they do with 425 so-called “red wolf” rejects?? And then what about puppies and puppies’ puppies and so on that were being bred in captivity in zoos and breeding farms all over the country?? Do the numbers with litters of 8 – 12 each for 30 years or more. It would be a big many!
    A hybrid coyote-wolf is declared extinct in the wild and the entire eastern US becomes overrun in with them in 15 years. Something stinks. Are there any in the original regions where man made them extinct?
    I hit the DGIF with multiple inquiries as well as sports writers and various wildlife organizations and when the “cat was let out of the bag” web sites began disappearing faster than I could try to recall them. My efforts were around the year 2000. I sincerely believe there are many that have a lot of skeletons in their closet, but they gave us the plague of big coyotes and don’t want to talk about it. A biologist with an agenda and a big ugly secret, what could be worse?
    I could go on more about the issues with this invasive species of coyotes and biologists with an agenda but I would need to write a book.

    • The sad fact is that there never, ever was such a thing as a “red wolf”, just US FWS rent-seekers.
      The supposed “red wolf” is a coyote, as has been known from genetic studies for decades. But still the federal trough-feeding circus moves on.

  38. @Kip
    I have heard of 2 seperate sightings here in Fairbanks, AK this spring, about 30 miles apart. So either passing through headed west or 2 seperate coyotes. One was from an avid game hunter so pretty reliable source.

    • AKSurveyor ==> The paper claims that coyotes have arrived in Alaska but yours is our first personal report from up North.

  39. Coyotes would be fairly similar to foxes. Foxes do well in urban settings and every country they’ve been introduced to they have thrived. In Australia Foxes are everywhere. The population of Red Foxes in Australia is about 6.2 million. They were introduced into Australia in the 1840’s for fox hunting, along with the rabbit.

  40. Kip
    About 2011, Oceanside,CA, February, in a Del Webb gated community not far from a brushy arroyo. Out walking the 50lb dog about 5:30 am. We have been down to the arroyo and are now back in the development, walking uphill towards our side street. Here comes a pack of coyotes, around 12 or so of them, spread out over a couple hundred yards, running full out. My hackles go up, and we stop. They rush past us and turn into the adjoining street and rush on. They have been hunting cats, dogs, rabbits, whatever, and it is time for them to exit the development. A close encounter I do not wish to repeat. Now in NW AZ and have seen one in the last 16 months, but folks in nearby Mesquite NV report hearing them regularly, likely a function of the availability of small pets and an exploding rabbit population this year.

  41. When I lived in California (in the San Gabriel mountains right next to a huge area designated as national forest) I’d hear several coyotes howling and yipping as they ran thru the streets of Lake Hughes, the tiny no-stoplight town of my then residence. This happened quite often on many nights out of the year. I also saw one during the day in a field – at first I thought it was a small German Shepherd mix but then I realized there were no homes for miles and that it really did not look or run like a dog.
    Now since I’ve moved back here to Maryland, I have, once in a blue moon, heard a coyote yip or bark (there is no way the sound can be confused with that of a dog, even a small dog) off in the distance. I live in a semi-rural area with lots of farms. But I’ve never seen one, though I know of people who have. It seems to me they are more secretive here on the east coast then the ones in CA in that they (at least around here) are less vocal. IMO it is likely they are seen less simply because of the landscape – areas of forest and brush broken by farms and fields rather than open deserts and sparse scrub. But still they are pests of livestock even though they are little seen and seldom heard. There is a farmer down the road who wanted to know if I would be interested in trapping some of them because they are killing his chickens. I trap raccoons and other small furbearers when the fur is worth harvesting (in fall and winter) so there is really no incentive for me to kill a coyote in summer time because its hide is worthless then. BTW it is open season year round on coyote in most of Maryland, as is the case in many states where they have emigrated to in the last few decades.
    And speaking of cats and coyotes, on my street there were two families who moved in at the end of last year, and both foolishly had outdoor cats. Well, it is now only a few months later and I’ve not seen either cat running around at night for some time. It is quite possible that they met their demise in the jaws of local coyotes – maybe they couldn’t find any more cats and so went after the farmer’s chickens…..

    • Schrecken ==> Thanks for the report on San Gabriel and Maryland — one of my sons quit hunting coyotes Upstate NY after many seasons producing only one or two decent skins.

  42. Kip. I saw a PBS documentary that claimed coy wolves are moving from Canada to the northeastern US. I think I have seen some in central VA.
    From a Smithsonian magazine:
    “The hybrid, or Canis latrans var., is about 55 pounds heavier than pure coyotes, with longer legs, a larger jaw, smaller ears and a bushier tail. It is part eastern wolf, part wester wolf, western coyote and with some dog (large breeds like Doberman Pinschers and German Shepherds), reports The Economist. Coywolves today are on average a quarter wolf and a tenth dog.”

    • thomaskennedy2 ==> The paper under discussion here confirms that in the Northeast US/Canada coyotes have been interbreeding with dogs and wolves — but interesting also reports that this phenomena is not seen at the Northwestern front of coyote expansion into BC and Alaska.

  43. Kip,
    Plenty of coyotes around here in Santa Fe, NM. Some year to year variability. Haven’t noticed a trend in 12 years.
    Overall they are pretty harmless and do some good in controlling rabbits and mice.
    They are a pain in the butt though if you like to walk your dogs off leash. The dogs want to chase them, which is not a good idea. Occasionally they seem to follow us and lurk. One was hanging around at night below my house a few weeks ago and one of my dogs got into it with him. No real damage done but we are being a bit more cautious.
    In any event, I do pack some heat in the mornings when we walk off leash.

    • What dd hit the press about six or so years ago was then Texas Gov Rick Perry shooting a coyote when out walking his dog. The animal rights activists were about as outraged as the gun control types.

      • Tom,
        That’s what’s great about Wyoming. No big cities to coddle idiots, though even so we have some, mostly in our bigger towns and some union bastions even in rural areas. When you need to shoot a lion or bear in town now and then, it kind of puts the damper on peta and gun control types. Seems like even here, though, the media moguls, such as they are, are all lefties. And even here people are people and with a high proportion of government employment, and the natural propensity for folks to want free shit, even our supposedly Republican government is not really very conservative with people voting for cowboy hats and pretty faces.
        All in all, though, with our biggest towns only at about 40 to 50k population (and only a couple of them), little available water, total state population of around 500k (kind of like a big city suburb), and cold and windy winters, we are about 30 to 40 years “behind” the rest of the country in terms of adopting the liberal bs. But it is continually getting worse, just like Texas. We need a Rick Perry.
        And, of course, all bets are off for Jackson, WY, which is a suburb of Hollywood with Cody quickly catching up. The remainder of the state is the best in the USA, and I’ve worked in all of them and have a pretty good idea of that of which I speak. People were not meant to live on top of each other. Coyotes, lions and bears are just fine.

        • JimG1 ==> Yeah …. I was going to counter with Jackson…..maybe they’ll secede.

    • Mark ==> Thanks for the first-hand from Santa Fe. Discourage your dogs from romantic liasions with the coyotes…..

  44. While I didn’t read every post I didn’t see any mention of raccoons. In the mid-1990s we had a lot of raccoons. Fourteen in our back yard one New Year’s eve, two large adults sows, one very large boar, a bunch of very young ones, and some “teenagers.” After Lake Jackson went down and coyotes migrated into the area, few if any raccoons. Before and after the lake disappeared we had foxes. We seldom see any today but it wasn’t because of coyotes but a parvo virus epidemic. It is possible the coyotes have not allowed the fox population to recover.

    • Edwin ==> So many things can happen in 20 years that generalities are hard to make about animal populations. Raccoons are probe to a nasty parvovirus…

  45. Epilogue:
    Great first-hand and eye-witness reports from all over the US and Canada, including interesting stories.
    Appreciate all of you whom have added to the conversation.
    Reader “Felix” reminds us that wild animals — all of them, including coyotes — should be treated with a great deal of caution and an awareness that even cute innocuous wild animals can bite, scratch and can be carriers of serious and even lethal diseases. Coyotes are in the dog family (so close that they can and do interbreed) thus have many of the same behaviors as dogs: they can be territorial, viciously protect their young and dens and I suppose that some just have a nasty personality (like some dogs) — like dogs, some will run away when shoo’d and some will strike back instead.
    Personal story on “protecting their young and den” — I raised miniature dachshunds years ago — lovely little pets (and terrific ratters). One of my sweetest dachsies had a litter overnight, in her birthing box. When I went to check on them so see if all was well, she nearly took one of my fingers off. I never made that mistake again.
    Many readers report coyotes hunting in packs — a wolf-like behavior — not generally associated with coyotes which are more likely to hunt as individuals or mated pairs. (Feral dogs also are known to hunt in packs.) This un-coyote behavior may be a result of hybridization with wolves and/or domestic dogs. More research over the years will give us better insight into the behavior patterns of coyotes and their various hybrids.
    I hope that this opportunity to comment about coyotes on-topic has satisfied those readers who have needed to comment about them repeatedly…. [ 🙂 ]
    Thanks for reading.

    • Packing up is standard coyote behavior. Always has been and always will be. Especially in winter, when they hunt larger game rather than relying on smaller prey. Same goes for partnering with badgers. They didn’t get that behavior from breeding with wolves.
      Coyotes or something very like them are the ancestor of wolves.
      Dogs do indeed pack up. I’ve shot lots of dogs as well as coyotes, defending my livestock, pets and family. Finally got permission to shoot some of the wolves which have been released into my AO.
      The wonderful thing about imported wolves is that they wear radio collars. The state F&G maintains a Web site showing their location. Thus I can watch them watching me.

    • E.J. ==> I suppose they harass the deer until one is injured or left behind because it is ill….

    • EJ,
      Great pix.
      Coyotes don’t kill just the old, sick and young. When they pack up, they can kill healthy adult white tails and even mulies. One darts in and takes a bite out of a vital or sensitive area, or wherever it can. Then the pack trails the victim, taking more bites when opportunity arises.
      (Reposted in correct spot.)

    • From what I can tell they like to herd deer on to the ice where slipping and falling can be fatal with a pack of hungry predators circling. This shot was late in the season with lots of snow on the ice making for better traction, but the new danger is breaking through the ice. Since deer are more likely to break through the ice than wolves or coyotes, the predators take advantage and hope for ready meal.

      • Bear in mind that coyotes in the same area are liable to be related or at least know each other. When two pair up, they’re often brothers. And a pack can be litter mates.

      • Although you can’t tell from the pictures this coyote mule deer encounter was fairly prolonged. Initially, the two coyotes were close to the deer, who were nervously looking over their shoulders in the opposite direction. The coyotes then ran towards me and the deer also moved closer. Yet you can see some of the deer locking back, which indicates to me that there was something else they were watching – likely more coyotes. Also of note was that this was midday and usually you never see coyotes or wolves since its open season on these guys.

    • E. J. ==> Yes, toddler attacked by coyote just outside his backyard.
      As is par for this type of thing a B.C. Conservation Service spokesperson Alicia Stark said that officials were running DNA tests to confirm it [a coyote tracked and shot] was the same animal that attacked the toddler.
      Stark said the child’s injuries are unusually serious for a coyote attack.
      “Coyote attacks are very rare in this area … when we do see them they are minor, maybe a scratch or a small bite.”
      Yet another warning that wild animals are just that, wild — and can be dangerous.

      • Coyotes attacks on humans are increasing. In the 30 years leading up to March of 2006, at least 160 attacks happened in the US. While only 41 attacks happened in the almost ten years between 1988 and 1997, there were 48 attacks verified in the five years 1998 to 2003. It should be noted that the majority of these instances happened in southern California, close to the suburban areas that border wilderness.
        To stalk humans, coyotes often work in teams, as they do when hunting other larger prey, attacking from the rear and flanks. Some of their successful, persistent hunts will last as long as 20 hours or so. Their unsuccessful hunts may last eight hours before they give up.
        In 1981 in Glendale, California, a coyote attacked toddler Kelly Keen, who was rescued by her father, but died in surgery due to blood loss and a broken neck. In October 2009, Taylor Mitchell, a 19-year-old folk singer on tour, died from injuries sustained in an attack by a pair of coyotes while hiking the Skyline Trail of the Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia, Canada. It’s possible, however, that the large northeastern coyotes responsible for that particular attack may have in fact been coyote-wolf hybrids (coy-wolves), due to interbreeding with wolves when coyotes moved into eastern North America.
        No doubt low-ranking wolves were delighted to make love rather than war with the invading canids.

  46. Kip, since pictures tell the story quite nicely, here is one from earlier in the winter showing what happens when deer end up on slick ice. I didn’t see the culprits behind this particular kill, but it occurred the night before I took this photo. Some years if the ice cover is heavy you can see blood spatters and ungulate carcasses in many areas on this lake.
    I’ll also add that when I was a youngster living in the Kamloops Ashcroft dry belt area it seemed the coyotes were much smaller than the ones I’ve seen of late. So, although I’m speculating, maybe there are some wolf-coyote hybrids here in western Canada. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

    • E. J. ==> well, ice is a dangerous place for hooved animals — and older gents like me. At least the clean-up crew is hard at work on that unlucky deer.

    • Felix – thanks for the link to the bobcat coyote articles. I had a quick read and learned some things. I was quite interested in the average coyote weights quoted in the study in Kansas which comports nicely with the coyotes I recall seeing as a kid. Thos long ago guys were bigger than foxes, and 20 to 30 lbs seems about right vs the much larger ones that I photographed with mule deer.

      • You’re welcome.

        IMO there were some big coyotes in the past, too.

        There has also always been inbreeding with wolves, and with dogs since the first ones arrived with the Paleoamericans.

  47. Kip – thanks very much for this article (and the link to the Red Wolfe one). I always read your articles with interest, but this was a very enjoyable change of pace. I have one question, though: you seem convinced that coyotes rarely hunt in packs?
    My impression of non-urban coyotes is that in the warmer months they tend to hunt alone or in pairs (and concentrate on smaller prey), but that in the winter they commonly hunt in small packs and put in the effort to take prey up to adult deer in size (stories from friends who hunt and/or are wildlife biologists and reading the surprisingly scant literature that was available at the time [`10 years ago]). These packs may be ‘family groups’, but they are still composed of 3-7 (in my experience) adult coyote. Urban coyotes (I lived in Edmonton, AB which is supposed to be home to 3,000 coyotes) that I have seen (walking to work in the pre-dawn winter – I’d see one or two a fortnight) usually were alone, except in the river valley which is more or less bush and has deer.
    Re size: Coyotes probably follow Bergmann’s Rule – populations show a positive increase in size with latitude and altitude. So, the more northern and higher elevation populations will be larger than their southern relatives with or without any hybridisation with wolves or domestic dogs. Of course, deer also follow Bergman’s Rule, so they won’t be any easier to catch, but I wonder if the southern, relatively small, coyotes are less likely to form packs and spend most of their time hunting small prey?

    • DaveW ==> The hunting practices of coyotes are apparently changing along with its range and possibly hybridization — with more pack/group hunting being seen and reported. I’d like to see more research on this before I formed a strong opinion. When food is scarce — winter — packing up to make large kills could be intentional (as with established wolf packs) or serendipitous — with more and more coyotes being drawn to the noise and excitment of the chase.

  48. Coyotes or any animal for that matter, can’t take the chance of being injured when hunting their prey.
    In the wild there are no hospitals, injuries can be a death sentence.

  49. Meh. My great grandfather came over on the Oregon Trail in 1878. There were a LOT of predators that would eat you or any other prey animal as a mid morning snack. We tried to eradicate them. Didn’t work. They are in our habitats now instead of us in theirs. So learn to shoot and carry when you go for a walk..

  50. I found a coyote kill of a full sized deer a few years ago. I am in Northern Wi on the east side of the Nicolet Nat Forest in some fairly remote country. I drove down a forest road on the way out to the local pub for dinner. We had 4″ of fresh snow and the road was not plowed.
    On the way home I came across the kill spot. There was a big flat area around the deer carcass where there were a million little paw prints that had packed the snow down hard. The carcass itself was stripped completely clean with a few bones missing. It was taken down and eaten clean in less than 4 hours. It wasn’t there when I went out and mine were the only tracks on the way home. My best guess is that they drove her into a fence and got a hold on her.
    I was surprised to see a coyote kill on a grown deer, but it was winter and critters get hungry in the winter. I was also surprised how fast they stripped the deer down to nothing. Between that and the size of the packed snow area I would guess that there were pretty many ‘yotes involved. There was plenty of blood, so it was a fresh kill.

  51. Re Coyotes in urban areas -I recall reading about a coyote which took up residence in Central Park in NYC -cant get much more urban than that.
    Down under we have many instances of animals surviving very well in urban areas such as foxes living in many suburbs, while close to the CBD of Melbourne ( population near 5 million) there is a large urban park -the Fitzroy gardens- where the resident native predator is the aptly named Powerful Owl which silently swoops down on unsuspecting possums (a small mostly tree- living marsupial about the size of a small cat) which have also become widely adapted to living in urban areas

  52. Kip,
    I really appreciate your post on coyotes, and especially those comments relating to the east of the Mississippi River. It took me years to convince the VA DGIF that the coyote hybrids were traveling over 15 -20 miles daily/nightly and the territories of individual packs were overlapping as my guess was that they would stray more than 30 – 40 miles over time, depending on the availability of food.
    Finally the DGIF has reached the same conclusion as I have. One collared female was traveling over 30 air miles between the Homestead (VA) and the Greenbrier (WV) and I believe the round trip was about 1 – 2 weeks. This was over 3 major mountains and at least 1 major river. They discovered the location of another by accident in an area east of the mountains where a collared ‘coyote’ had moved more than 60 miles away in less than 5 days and they lost track of it. It was accidentally discovered when the signal was picked up during air travel not related to that particular ‘coyote’.
    The nose on a ‘coyote is extremely good. My bird dogs can pick up turkey scent over 1 1/2 miles away when the conditions are right so I’m sure a coyote can do better. Tracks in the snow show them at a full trot for 10 miles following mountain logging roads. Don’t know how far they had already traveled before I cut the tracks or how far they went after I left it. Most times there will be 2 or 3 running together and sometimes more. The wind tends to follow the valleys to a degree in the Appalachian mountains and ‘coyotes’ do the same. Another issue in favor of the coyotes is thermals. Without forced wind from atmospheric conditions the wind often dies down approaching dusk and will begin again late morning. These uphill and downhill thermals can create a lot of fairly laminar air movement, enough to blow your hat off in some cases. At around dusk a coyote can run the low route and pick up on any scent drifting down the mountain. After dawn they can run the higher route and pick up any scent drifting up. The scent identifies prey and all they have to do is literally follow their nose. A ground nesting bird has little chance in these conditions. A biologist that was educated without the full understanding of these thermals is lost with the wind. In flat country there are basically no thermals thus no effect or real life understanding. I have tried to provide education to the educated with some success, I hope.
    On closing let me say that a good dog trained to strike (bark when smelling intended quarry) out of the window is an invaluable asset. I’ve had 4 of those over the past 30 years. Accuracy is near 100%. I know what can’t even be seen! A streamer on the vehicle antenna even tells me which way to go if it’s not a “hot strike”. Pheasants in SD are cheaters because when they hear the ‘dog strike’ they run a mile in the other direction so best option then was to go to the road upwind and meet ’em half way. That took a couple of days to figure out but worked out well.
    Anyway, I want to know how much of the mid-Atlantic “coyote” problem was deliberate and who the players were.

    • “In flat country there are basically no thermals thus no effect or real life understanding”
      Nonsense. Thermals occur mostly in flat country.What you are talking about isn’t thermals, it’s katabatic and anabatic winds.

      • tty,
        Ground level thermals that would carry scent in a manner that a coyote could utilize for locating prey is very common in mountains flowing uphill and down. There is no elevation changes to facilitate this in flat country with the exception of wind drift toward the rising sun in flat land. In mountains the after dusk down draft can continue for a few hours after sunset.
        Maybe you can explain the physical process that would force thermal air movement at ground level in flat country that would exceed that in a mountainous setting.
        Anyway, your response is nonsense in the context of a predators utilization of the wind drifts. Spare me the technical terms stay OT with regards to the comment above. Maybe you can address the VA Trappers Association and tell them they don’t know where to set their traps. They will get a smile from it.

    • eyesonu ==> “I want to know how much of the mid-Atlantic “coyote” problem was deliberate and who the players were.”
      Not sure I understand the question….

      • Kip,
        No question asked. But to put my comment in a question form: Were so-called “red wolves” released in areas other than the planned Alligator National Refuge in NC? Cades Cove in the NC mountains was one reported release but they disappeared. I believe they tried it again with the same results. I think it was 15-20 each release. VA got an appearance of “coyotes” and TN got some. There was a court case filed in TN over the “red wolves” in early 1990 or so (IIRC). The land owner lost on appeal due to the commerce clause, seems people would travel across state lines to hear the “wolves” howl. What a frickin’ joke. They were probably 100 miles away by then and breeding like rats.
        Do “we” now have thousands of “red wolves” in captivity? Are they being bred as “red wolves” but called coyotes when set free? Anyway, the real QUESTION is: What were “they” doing with all the puppies and the original 425 +- rejects?

  53. A few observations from North Georgia (just north of Atlants) which I have made. Take them with a grain of salt, because I’m sure my real data runs counter to someone’s model which ‘proves’ otherwise:
    Coyotes were kept out of this area by wolves, a higher-order preditor.
    Wolves were extirpated by our ancestors to protect their livestock (primarily chickens).
    Coyotes started moving into the area from the south, starting in the mid-1990s. They crossed North of the Chattahoochee by 2000. They are now having an effect on the local deer population, and some experts claim annual deer numbers are shrinking.
    The behavior of coyotes has been evolving to adapt to human suburbs. In the wild, a mating pair has pups, and train the pups how to hunt when they are old enough. During this time, they will hunt together. This family unit is called a pack. At a certain point, the adolescent pups are ‘encouraged’ to find their own hunting grounds. This was simply to ensure enough food for everyone. In the ‘burbs, though, they have found an abundance of food. The packs are not splitting up but growing with new additions.
    Coyotes love fences, particularly if a pet is confined by them. They can easily jump a five or six foot fence. Your pet dog cannot. Once inside….The only thing better are wireless fences. They can just walk in and make a snack of your pet.
    They are very subject to getting rabies. They are scavenger preditors, making meals of any sick prey they may find – including those carrying rabies. There have already been attacks on children in my area by rabid coyotes.
    Coyotes bring out the ignorance and stupidity of certain people who blame man for everything. “We are seeing coyotes because we are encrouching on their territories. They have a right to be here.” Nope, and nope. They are an invasive species, and who or what gave them any rights?
    “Just leave them alone. They won’t hurt anyone. ” Yes, they will, and please explain why it is safe to harbor feral canines in our neighborhood, yet we routinely round-up domesticated stray canines and destroy them for our safety.
    Finally, so-called experts have told us not to bother trying to get rid of them, they will just come back. So consider this: wolves were sufficiently smart and vicious to drive coyotes out. Our ancestors were sufficiently smart and vicious to drive out wolves. But now coyotes can invade the area at will? If were aren’t smart and vicious enough to drive them out, let’s bring back wolves for a few years to do it, then get rid of the wolves again!
    I predict nothing will get done until the existing food sources become insufficient for their growing population. Then they will turn to a new food source; critters that weigh less than a large fawn, are much slower, and have no defenses. They are also found trapped within fences next to buildings with signs advertising daycare. I just hope our indigenous animals will still be around when that day comes.

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