Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for

 

Title

Coyotes

Date of this Version

September 1994

Abstract

In body form and size, the coyote (Canis latrans) resembles a small collie dog, with erect pointed ears, slender muzzle, and a bushy tail. Coyotes are predominantly brownish gray in color with a light gray to cream-colored belly. Color varies greatly, however, from nearly black to red or nearly white in some individuals and local populations. Most have dark or black guard hairs over their back and tail. Coyote-dog and coyote-wolf hybrids exist in some areas and may vary greatly from typical coyotes in size, color, and appearance. Coyotes often include many items in their diet. Rabbits top the list of their dietary components. Carrion, rodents, ungulates (usually fawns), insects (such as grasshoppers), as well as livestock and poultry, are also consumed. Coyotes readily eat fruits such as watermelons, berries, and other vegetative matter when they are available. In some areas coyotes feed on human refuse at dump sites and take pets (cats and small dogs). Coyotes are opportunistic and generally take prey that is the easiest to secure. Among larger wild animals, coyotes tend to kill young, inexperienced animals, as well as old, sick, or weakened individuals. With domestic animals, coyotes are capable of catching and killing healthy, young, and in some instances, adult prey. Coyote predation on livestock is generally more severe during early spring and summer than in winter. Coyote predation also may increase during fall when young coyotes disperse from their home ranges and establish new territories.