Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for


Date of this Version

April 1991


The coyote (Canis latrans) is among the most studied animals in North America. Because of its adaptability and success as a predator, the coyote has flourished and is still expanding its range. Coyotes can now be found throughout most of North America and south into Central America (Voight and Berg 1987). Studies in recent years have been extensive to understand the interrelationships of prey and coyotes (Shelton and Klindt 1974, Beckoff and Wells 1981), as well as demographic relationships (Davis et al. 1975, Knowlton and Stoddart 1978, Mitchell 1979, Bowen 1981) and feeding strategies (Todd and Keith 1976, Andelt et al. 1987, MacCracken and Hansen 1987, Gese et al. 1988a). With the advance of radio telemetry, researchers have investigated lifestyle characteristics spatially with home ranges or temporally with movements in relation to habitat requirements. Researchers have studied home ranges of coyotes in various regions of the United States (Livaitis and Shaw 1980, Andelt 1981, Springer 1982, Pyrah 1984, Gese et al. 1988a) and Canada (Bowen 1982). Some studies of home range were separated by season (Ozoga and Harger 1966) or relation to nearby food sources (Danner and Smith 1980). Home range analysis in relation to social interactions of coyotes has been either neglected, overlooked, or avoided. Gese et al. (1988a) recognized a transient class of coyote by home range size. Coyote social systems are very complex and can vary by season or locality in addition to some reports of group or pack systems (Hamlin and Schweitzer 1979, Beckoff and Wells 1981, Bowen 1981, Gese et al. 1988b). Coyotes maintain communication with conspecifics through vocal and olfactory signals (Lehner 1987, Bowen and McTaggert Cowan 1980). Social interactions may be by far the most complex and least understood aspect related to coyote ecology. Coyote movements can be related to many factors including food, water, cover, and social interactions. Movements in relation to food sources are well documented (Fitch 1948, Todd and Keith 1976, Danner and Smith 1980) although reports on movements in relation to water have not been reported, probably because of limited research in desert situations. There has been some mention of coyotes' movements in relation to cover (Wells and Beckoff 1982). The objectives of this study were to delineate annual and seasonal home ranges, movements, and habitat use of coyotes in the northern Chihuahuan desert.