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:

Fig_1_and_2

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.

coyote_expansion

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.

# # # # #

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.

# # # # #

 

 

Advertisements

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Tom Halla

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”?

Tregonsee

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.

Michael Jankowski

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.

Felix

To me, the prettiest is when the moms are calling in their cubs at dusk.

RAH

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.

RAH

That’s 1/2 mile

Rick

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.

Felix

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

See my comment below for much more.

Coyote are not big enough and don’t pack hunt well enough to take down deer (typically). You need a wolf for that.

Felix

Coyotes are the main control on deer population:
https://gameandgarden.com/sustainability/land/do-coyotes-affect-deer-populations/
It’s possibly worse in Alberta, where due to snow in winter, coyotes can more easily kill adults, too.

Tom Halla

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.

Felix

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

Felix

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.
http://www.mlive.com/outdoors/index.ssf/2012/04/experts_surprised_by_which_pre.html
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.
https://www.realtree.com/deer-hunting/articles/how-coyotes-killed-deer-hunting
https://www.livescience.com/27976-coyotes.html
From the U. of MI’s Animal Diversity Web:
http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Canis_latrans/
“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

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.

Carbon Bigfoot

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.

Felix

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.

Felix

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

Sara

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

Many of you will have seen this story: –
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-44243644 ;
https://globalnews.ca/video/4234468/strange-wolf-like-creature-shot-in-montana-leaves-wildlife-experts-baffled ;
And other URLs.
Any relation?
To my – thoroughly inexpert – eyes, the dead beast has something of the Irish wolf-hound about it.
Maybe.
DNA sampling is promised, and that may clarify. Perhaps.
Auto

Coyote ugly has many manifestations, Auto.

Latitude

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

sophocles

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.

John_C

Redd Foxx is extinct (1991). Probably due to rising COyo2. More research is needed.

ResourceGuy

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.

James Beaver

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

subtle2

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

tty

Urban Socialists are the nasty ones, the others are quite harmless in comparison.

Leonard Lane

Yes, and the urban socialists are expanding their territory to the suburbs and countryside. Faster than the coyotes, it seems.

J Mac

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.

Kurt in Switzerland

Probably the late night calls of students in Wasau, calling your bluff.

J Mac

That would be a ‘long distance call, from Green Lake County where I grew up!

Kurt in Switzerland

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.

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 ….

James Larsen

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.

DC Cowboy

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

ossqss

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.

Edwin

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.

tty

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.

Kurt in Switzerland

equal opportunity predatory carnivores.

DonM

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.

Felix

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

DaveW

tty – cougars too. David Barron’s book ‘The Beast in the Garden’ does a very fine job of exploring the interactions of people and wildlife encroaching on each other’s territory:
https://www.amazon.com/Beast-Garden-Predators-Suburban-America/dp/0393326349

James Beaver

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.

Felix

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.

tty

““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.

Unrepresented

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

Edwin

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.

Unrepresented

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

Samuel C Cogar

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

Art

“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.

Samuel C Cogar

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?

DaveW

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:
http://www.startribune.com/eagles-and-ospreys-are-flying-pack-rats/87805702/

Ray Booth

Here is some footage of an eagle taking a fawn that was swimming along the shore of a lake. The eagle held the fawn under water until it drowned. Then he dragged it to shore and ate off of it for four days. This is about 45 min from my house in northern WI. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oieLD8APS5g

Roger Graves

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.

nn

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.

Non Nomen

A similar development goes on in Germany, but it’s not coyotes but wolves…
https://www.thelocal.de/20180419/wolf-population-germany

Curious George

Reminds me of a Siberian restroom: Two sticks. You lean on one and keep wolves away with the other.

Non Nomen

Just don’t carry a red hood, and everything will be fine :=)

joelobryan

Here’s a likely Wolf-Dog hybrid shot in Montana recently. Biologists are waiting on DNA analysis to tell them what it was.
story at:
https://www.greatfallstribune.com/story/news/2018/05/24/wolf-dog-dogman-some-mysterious-creature-montanans-look-answers/634379002/comment image

Grandpa Greer

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.

Joe Wagner

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.

John Bell

We have them in nice suburbs north of Detroit; Rochester Hills Michigan.

Sweet Old Bob

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 .

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.

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?

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.

Felix

In the Pacific NW, coyotes are the main predators of deer fawns, more so than cougars.

DaveW

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.

DonM

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.

Sara

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.

Here in North Carolina, I hope they develop a taste for Canada Geese and goose eggs.

Edwin

fhhaynie, Don’t know about coyotes eating Canadian Geese but alligators love them.

DMA

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.

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]

commieBob

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

@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.

Felix

There are already a lot of canid species in South America:
http://www.canids.org/species/region/PREKDB770131

Felix

Hire ex-FARC narcoterrorists to shoot any coyotes on sight.
They’ve been unemployed since last year.

Oh, I’m fine with the four-legged kind, so wouldn’t start a vendetta on them. Now the two-legged “coyotes” – extermination is the best solution.

Felix

I have friends on the Border who are doing their bit.
Shoot, shovel, shut up.
If they’re armed, they go down.

markl

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.

Felix

Lots of coyote attacks on humans, especially children in CA:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote_attacks_on_humans#On_children

Felix

Besides the girl in CA, this promising young adult was killed in a coyote attack in Nova Scotia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylor_Mitchell

subtle2

If anyone would like to read a funny story about a young bear.
http://www.pantrychronicles.com?_id=690
It’s a true story–I was there and wrote it up last year for a friend that has a food blog.

subtle2

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

u.k.(us)

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.

Felix

Is killing girls and adult women too aggressive?

u.k.(us)

Yup, and those genes won’t live long enough to reproduce.

Felix

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.

J Mac

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.

Dan Davis

When I lived in Leschi neighborhood of Seattle, I spotted this coyote.comment image
This neighborhood is pure city, right where the 1-90 floating bridge across Lk. Washington enters Seattle via the tunnels. We often saw racoons, but this is the first and only Coyote, and I only saw him once.

u.k.(us)

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.

u.k.(us)

Flat shooting rifle, (I promise to stop now).

Felix

Good shot. Not sure it was 400 yards, though.
With a .243, the coyote would have run a fur piece if shot in the guts.

Leo Smith

Wow! that is good shooting.
And i would entirely believe the 400yds

deebodk

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.

J Mac

Related item: About 20 miles from my place.
May 19, 2018 Snoqualmie/North Bend cougar attack kills one and injures a second bicyclist.
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/05/19/cougar-attack-in-washington-kills-1-biker-injures-another.html

Felix

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

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…

From the wiki:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote_Creek_(Santa_Clara_County)

History
Coyote Creek was originally named Arroyo del Coyote by Padre Pedro Font when the de Anza Expedition reached it on Sunday, March 31, 1776.

So was full of coyotes when the Spanish first explored California.

Felix

As shown in Kip’s first figure.

Gary Pearse

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.

HDHoese

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

JimG1

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.

Felix

I have a lot of respect for them, but have to kill them anyway.
Besides packing up with each other to bring down deer and even elk, they also cooperate with badgers. The combo is death to red diggers, aka Columbian ground squirrels.

JimG1

Felix,
I hunted them for years but not so much anymore as long as they don’t come around my place as I have a cat I really like and some dogs who are not so smart that they wouldn’t give chase. Once helped with cows on my friend’s ranch and shot lots of coyotes in the process but I do have a grudging respect for the critters

Felix
u.k.(us)

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

HotScot

Can I say it please?
Wile E. Coyote.
C’mon, someone had to!

Felix

Meep meep!

Tom Halla

We do have a few roadrunners here in the Hill Country, but they don’t look much like the cartoon.

Felix

I love roadrunners. My brother lives in AZ and they come into his house.

Martin457

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.

Stanislav Jakuba

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

eyesonu

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”.

marque2

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.

Felix

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”.

Tom Halla

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

Felix

Maybe in CA, but in the Real West, it’s “kayoat”.

Felix

For “Kay”, please read, “keye”, as in “eye”.

DeLoss McKnight

Next up a paper on the chupacabra? 😉

Russell Klier

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……

Felix

I wish my neighbors would stop shooting coyotes for one year to let them rid us of feral cats.

eyesonu

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.

Felix

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.

AKSurveyor

@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.

J.H.

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.

Terry Jackson

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.

Schrecken

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…..

thomaskennedy2

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: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/coywolves-are-taking-over-eastern-north-america-180957141/
“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.”