Date of this Version
Albers G, Edwards JW, Rogers RE, Mastro LL. 2016. Natality of yearling coyotes in West Virginia. Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management 7(1):192-197; e1944-687X.
Minimal information is available regarding the reproduction of coyotes (Canis latrans) in the Mid-Atlantic region, which includes the states of Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Since reproductive information is useful to assess populations and determine management strategies and because this information is unavailable for the Mid-Atlantic, we examined uterine tracts of 66 female coyotes collected from February to May 2010 for fetuses. We measured fetuses using a digital caliper and approximated dates of conception and parturition. Nine (13.6%) female coyotes were pregnant with visible fetuses; seven of these females were yearlings (1.5–2.5 y old). Average litter size of yearling coyotes was 5.4 (SE=0.48). We estimated an average conception date of 2 February and an average parturition date of 6 April. Conception and parturition dates were within the reported range for coyotes, though one female successfully bred in early January, which is earlier than reported in the literature. The relatively high proportion (30.4%) of yearling females breeding in West Virginia may reflect abundant food resources, low density of coyotes, increasing human-caused mortality, or a combination of these factors. Reproductive information reported here will be helpful in monitoring coyote population trends and in the assessment of management strategies.