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Canis latrans (Coyote)


  • Last modified
  • 28 February 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Natural Enemy
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Canis latrans
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Coyote
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Mammalia
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Canis latrans is a member of the dog family that has a wide distribution throughout North America, including Mexico, and into Central America as far south as Panama. It occurs as far north as Alaska and in all...

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Adult Coyote (Canis latrans); Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
TitleAdult Coyote
CaptionAdult Coyote (Canis latrans); Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Copyright©Alfred Viola, Northeastern University,; This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
Adult Coyote (Canis latrans); Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Adult CoyoteAdult Coyote (Canis latrans); Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada©Alfred Viola, Northeastern University,; This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Canis latrans Say, 1823

Preferred Common Name

  • Coyote

International Common Names

  • English: American jackal; brush wolf; prairie wolf
  • Spanish: Coyote

Summary of Invasiveness

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Canis latrans is a member of the dog family that has a wide distribution throughout North America, including Mexico, and into Central America as far south as Panama. It occurs as far north as Alaska and in all but the furthest north-eastern parts of Canada. It is abundant throughout its range and is increasing in distribution as humans continue to modify the landscape. The species is very versatile, especially in its ability to exploit human-modified environments. It is believed to have been restricted to the south-west and plains regions of the U.S. and Canada, and northern and central Mexico, prior to European settlement. It is thought to have expanded north and west during the 19th century; with land conversion and removal of wolves after 1900, it expanded into all of the U.S. and Mexico, southwards into Central America, and northwards into most of Canada and Alaska. It continues to expand its distribution and occupy most areas between 8°N (Panama) and 70°N (northern Alaska). Its main negative impact is as a predator of livestock. It also threatens some endangered species, and sometimes kills pets. Attacks on humans are infrequent although increasing.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Mammalia
  •                     Order: Carnivora
  •                         Suborder: Fissipeda
  •                             Family: Canidae
  •                                 Genus: Canis
  •                                     Species: Canis latrans

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The currently accepted scientific name for the coyote is Canis latrans Say.  It is in the family Canidae.  Nineteen subspecies are currently recognized (Bekoff, 1977; Hall, 1981):

C. latrans cagottis (Hamilton-Smith) (Mexican coyote)

C. latrans clepticus Elliot (San Pedro Martir coyote)

C. latrans dickeyi Nelson (Salvador coyote)

C. latrans frustror Woodhouse (southeastern coyote)

C. latrans goldmani (Belize coyote)

C. latrans hondurensis (Honduras coyote)

C. latrans impavidus Allen (Durango coyote)

C. latrans incolatus Hall (northern coyote)

C. latrans jamesi Townsend (Tiburon Island coyote)

C. latrans latrans (plains coyote)     

C. latrans lestes Merriam (mountain coyote)

C. latrans mearnsi Merriam (Mearns coyote)

C. latrans microdon Merriam (Lower Rio Grande coyote)

C. latrans ochropus Eschscholtz (California valley coyote)      

C. latrans peninsulae Merriam (peninsula coyote)

C. latrans texensis Bailey (Texas plains coyote)

C. latrans thamnos Jackson (northeastern coyote)

C. latrans umpquensis Jackson (northwest coast coyote)

C. latrans vigilis Merriam (Colima coyote)

In addition to these subspecies, coyotes in the north-eastern USA, Ontario, Québec and the maritime provinces of Canada (where the species has been present for only a few decades) are known as Canis latrans var. or the Eastern Coyote; they tend to tend to be bigger than their western counterparts, and more likely to hunt in packs (Schadler, 2010). These differences are thought to be a result of hybridization with eastern wolves in southern Ontario and possibly southern Québec (Kays et al., 2010; Wheeldon et al., 2010), which are argued by Wilson et al. (2000) to be closer to C. latrans than they are to western wolves (see below).

Fertile hybrids have been produced by matings of coyotes with feral dogs (C. familiaris), red wolves (C. rufus), grey wolves (C. lupus), and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) (Bekoff, 1977; Chapman and Feldhamer, 1982).  Coyote-dog hybrids exhibit decreased fecundity (Mengel, 1971; Wheeldon et al., 2013). Coyote-dog and coyote-wolf hybrids exist in some areas and may vary greatly from typical coyotes in size, colour, and appearance. Also, coyotes in the New England states (see previous paragraph) may differ in colour from typical western coyotes. Many are black, and some are reddish. These colorations may partially be due to past hybridization with dogs and wolves (Green et al., 1994). Schadler (2010) argues that differences in coyote and dog reproductive behaviour prevent dog genes from persisting in the coyote gene pool.

According to NatureServe (2013): 'Recent genetic studies demonstrate that C. latrans, the eastern Grey Wolf (C. lupus lycaon) and the Red Wolf (C. rufus) represent a common North American canid lineage distinct from that of the Grey Wolf (C. lupus), which has a Eurasian origin (Wilson et al., 2000). The Red Wolf/eastern Grey Wolf apparently diverged from the Coyote during the Pleistocene (Wilson et al., 2000). C. lupus lycaon genes are apparently incorporated into the C. latrans gene pool in the northeastern U.S., and C. rufus genes in the southeastern U.S., due to extensive hybridization.' Way (2013) argues on genetic and morphological grounds that the Northeastern Coyote, by which he means the populations described above as Eastern Coyotes or C. latrans var., should be known as the Coywolf, Canis latrans x C. lycaon.

Adams et al. (2003b) investigated mitochondrial DNA of 112 coyotes in the south-eastern USA and found that 12 of them, from Florida to West Virginia, had a haplotype closely related to those in domestic dogs. The widespread distribution suggests that the hybridization event may have happened before coyotes colonized the south-eastern USA, but it could also have happened as they began to do so, or following releases of coyotes for hunting before natural expansion reached the region.


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Green et al. (1994) describe the coyote as follows:

‘In body form and size, Canis latrans resembles a small collie dog, with erect pointed ears, slender muzzle, and a bushy tail. It is predominantly brownish grey in color with a light grey to cream-colored belly. Color varies greatly, however, from nearly black to red or nearly white in some individuals and local populations. Most individuals have dark or black guard hairs over their back and tail. In western states, typical adult males weigh from 25 to 45 pounds (11 to 16 kg [sic.; 45 lb = 20 kg]) and females from 22 to 35 pounds (10 to 14 kg [sic.; 35 lb = 16 kg]). In the East, many coyotes are larger than their western counterparts, with males averaging about 45 pounds (14 kg [sic.; 45 lb = 20 kg]) and females about 30 pounds (13 kg [sic.; 30 lb = 14 kg]).’

Data reviewed by Way (2013) indicated that male northeastern coyotes (i.e. those found to the northeast of eastern Pennsylvania and southern Ontario, which are also known as eastern coyotes, and according to Way should more accurately be known as coywolves) are on average 35% heavier than male western coyotes (mean 16.5 kg compared to 12.2 kg), and females 37% heavier (14.7 kg compared to 10.7 kg). The differences between western and northeastern coyotes were statistically significant (P < 0.0001). A few individual male eastern coyotes had body weights as high as 22-25 kg, overlapping with the smaller members of eastern wolf populations.


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Historically, coyotes were most common on the Great Plains of North America (according to Bekoff (1977), they disappeared from the eastern part of the continent 12,000 years ago near the end of the last glacial period). Following expansion in the 19th and 20th centuries, their range now extends from Central America to the Arctic, including all of the USA (except Hawaii), Canada (except the far north-east), and Mexico (Green et al., 1994). They are found from Panama to northern Alaska and from coast to coast in the United States and Canada.  The highest densities occur in the Great Plains states and the south-central part of the USA.  They are absent from the barrens and Arctic islands of northern Canada.  They are uncommon where grey wolf (Canis lupus) populations are high in northeastern Minnesota, northern Alaska, the Northwest Territories, Manitoba, and Ontario (Berger and Gese, 2007; Atwood and Gese, 2010; Benson and Patterson, 2013).

Distribution of the subspecies is listed below (except where stated otherwise, the source of this information is Tesky (1995), citing Terres (1964) and Young and Jackson (1951)). Nowak (1979) contains a map showing the distribution of the different subspecies, which is in broad but not total agreement with the (older) information in Tesky (1995).

Mexican coyote - Occurs in Oaxaca, San Luis Potosi, Pueblo, and Veracruz, Mexico.  Its range may extend into southern Nuevo Leon and southern Tamaulipas, Mexico.

San Pedro Martir coyote - Occurs in northern Baja California and southwestern California (mostly San Diego County).

Southeastern coyote - Occurs in southeastern and extreme eastern Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Durango coyote - Occurs along the Pacific coast drainage of western Mexico between about 22 degrees and 26 degrees north latitude, in extreme southern Sonora, extreme southwestern Chihuahua, western Durango, western Zacatecas, and Sinaloa.

Northern coyote - In Canada, northern coyotes occur in Yukon Territory, the Northwest Territories, northern British Columbia, and northern Alberta.  In the USA, northern coyotes occur in most of Alaska except the southeastern coastal section.

Tiburon Island coyote - Occurs on Tiburon Island off Baja California.

Plains coyote - In Canada, plains coyotes occur in southeastern Alberta, southern Saskatchewan, and the extreme southwestern corner of Manitoba. In the USA, they occur in Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado east of the Rocky Mountains, and the northeastern corner of New Mexico, North Dakota except the northeastern quarter, northwestern Oklahoma, and the northern Panhandle region of Texas.

Mountain coyote - In Canada, mountain coyotes occur in southern British Columbia and southeastern [southwestern, according to Nowak, 1979] Alberta.  In the USA, they occur in Oregon and Washington east of the Cascade Range, northern California, Idaho, western Montana, Wyoming, Colorado (except the southeast corner), northern and central Nevada, and northern and central Utah.

Mearns coyote - Occurs in southwestern Colorado, extreme southern Utah and Nevada, southeastern California, northeastern Baja California, Arizona, west of the Rio Grande in New Mexico, and Sonora and Chihuahua in Mexico.

Lower Rio Grande coyote - Occurs in extreme southern Texas and northern Tamaulipas, Mexico.

California valley coyote - Occurs in California west of the Sierra Nevada, except in the northern part.

Peninsula coyote - Occurs on the Baja California peninsula.

Texas plains coyote - Occurs in Texas, except for the northern panhandle region, the eastern part, and the extreme southern tip.  Texas plains coyotes also occur in eastern New Mexico except for the northeastern corner, and part of northeastern Mexico.

Northeastern coyote - In Canada, northeastern coyotes occur, according to Tesky (1995), in north-central Saskatchewan, Manitoba (except the extreme southwestern corner), southern Ontario, and extreme southern Québec. The map in Nowak (1979) shows them in south-eastern Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba, most of Ontario and southern Québec. More recent studies show that the hybridization with wolves that resulted in the genesis of the Eastern coyote took place in southern Ontario (Wheeldon et al., 2010) and therefore that the coyotes there and in Québec are Eastern coyotes (C. latrans var.) rather than Northeastern (C. l. thamnos) (B. Patterson, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, personal communication, 2013).  In the USA, northeastern coyotes occur along the eastern edge of North Dakota and in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri (north of the Missouri River), Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois (except the extreme southern portion), and northern Indiana.

Northwest coast coyote - Occurs west of the Cascade Range in Oregon and Washington.

Colima coyote - Occurs along the southwestern Pacific slope of Jalisco, Michoacan, and Guerrero, Mexico. Its range expanded during the 20th century.

The Salvador Coyote was originally described from El Salvador (Nelson, 1932), and is also found in parts of some other Central American countries (Nowak, 1979); it is presumably this subspecies that is found as far south as Panama.

The Belize Coyote is found in parts of Guatemala, Belize and southern Mexico (Nowak, 1979).

The Honduras Coyote is found in parts of Honduras (Nowak, 1979).

The Eastern Coyote is found in the northeastern USA, the maritime provinces of Canada (Schadler, 2010; Nowak, 1979), southern Ontario and southern Québec (Wheeldon et al., 2010; B. Patterson, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, personal communication, 2013). 

Coyotes reached the south-eastern USA by spreading from neighbouring regions (although there were also introductions by humans); a mitochondrial DNA haplotype closely related to those in domestic dogs is found in some coyotes across the region (Adams et al., 2003b).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

North America

CanadaWidespreadNative Not invasive Tesky, 1995; NatureServe, 2013
-AlbertaWidespreadNative Not invasive Tesky, 1995; NatureServe, 2013
-British ColumbiaWidespreadNative Not invasive Tesky, 1995; NatureServe, 2013
-ManitobaWidespreadNative Not invasive Tesky, 1995; NatureServe, 2013
-New BrunswickPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentNativeParker, 1995; Chubbs and Phillips, 2005; NatureServe, 2013First recorded in insular Newfoundland in 1985 and in Labrador in 1995.
-Northwest TerritoriesPresentTesky, 1995; Cluff, 2006
-Nova ScotiaPresentNativeParker, 1995; NatureServe, 2013
-OntarioPresentNativeKolenosky and Standfield, 1975; Voigt and Berg, 1987; NatureServe, 2013
-Prince Edward IslandPresentNativeParker, 1995; NatureServe, 2013
-QuebecPresentNativeBoisjoly et al., 2010; NatureServe, 2013
-SaskatchewanWidespreadNative Not invasive Tesky, 1995; NatureServe, 2013
-Yukon TerritoryPresentNativeTesky, 1995; NatureServe, 2013
MexicoPresentNative Not invasive Gese et al., 2008
USAWidespreadNative Not invasive Gese et al., 2008
-AlabamaWidespreadNative Not invasive Blanton and Hill, 1989; Atwood, 2006
-AlaskaPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-ArizonaPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-ArkansasPresentKing and Bohning, 1984
-CaliforniaPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-ColoradoPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-ConnecticutPresentGlatz, 1975
-DelawarePresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-District of ColumbiaPresentDell'Amore, 2006
-FloridaPresentIntroducedBekoff, 1977; Chapman and Feldhamer, 1982; Martell et al., 1984
-GeorgiaPresentIntroducedBekoff, 1977; Chapman and Feldhamer, 1982; Martell et al., 1984
-IdahoPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-IllinoisWidespreadNative Not invasive Anderson et al., 2009
-IndianaWidespreadNative Not invasive Atwood et al., 2007
-IowaPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-KansasPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-KentuckyPresentBlanton and Hill, 1989
-LouisianaPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-MainePresentCaturano, 1983; Hilton, 1992Established in the 1970s and 1980s
-MarylandPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-MassachusettsWidespreadDecker et al., 1992
-MichiganWidespreadNative Not invasive Atwood and Weeks, 2002
-MinnesotaPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-MississippiPresentBlanton and Hill, 1989; Chamberlain et al., 2000
-MissouriPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-MontanaPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-NebraskaPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-NevadaPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-New HampshirePresentSilver and Silver, 1969
-New JerseyWidespreadEastman, 2000
-New MexicoPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-New YorkWidespreadNativeFener et al., 2005
-North CarolinaWidespreadNative Not invasive Adams et al., 2003a
-North DakotaPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-OhioWidespreadNativeBourque et al., 2005Not native to the Great Cleveland area
-OklahomaPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-OregonPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-PennsylvaniaWidespreadNative Not invasive Bixel, 1995
-Rhode IslandPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-South CarolinaPresentKilgo et al., 2010
-South DakotaPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-TennesseeWidespreadNative Not invasive Babb and Kennedy, 1988; Blanton and Hill, 1989
-TexasPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-UtahPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-VermontPresentLorenz, 1978
-VirginiaWidespreadIntroducedBozarth, 2010A recent colonist in northern Virginia
-WashingtonPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013
-West VirginiaPresentHouben et al., 2004Eastern coyote arrived in West Virginia in the early to mid-1980s. By the early 1990s, coyote depredations were recognized as a serious threat to West Virginia’s livestock industries
-WisconsinWidespreadHuegel, 1979
-WyomingPresentNativeNatureServe, 2013

Central America and Caribbean

BelizePresentNative Not invasive Gese et al., 2008
Costa RicaPresentNative Invasive Cove et al., 2012; IUCN, 2012A threat to the possibly endangered Sylvilagus dicei
El SalvadorPresentNative Not invasive Gese et al., 2008
GuatemalaPresentNative Not invasive Gese et al., 2008
HondurasPresentNative Not invasive Gese et al., 2008
NicaraguaPresentNative Not invasive Gese et al., 2008
PanamaPresentNative Not invasive Gese et al., 2008

History of Introduction and Spread

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European settlers found C. latrans on the plains, prairies, and deserts of central and western North America. It appeared to prefer open or semi-wooded habitats. However, about the beginning of the twentieth century, it began a dramatic range expansion that is still in progress. Today, all eastern states and provinces have at least a small population of coyotes (Voigt and Berg, 1987).

The reasons for this expansion are not fully understood but probably include several conditions created by people: the clearing of forests, availability of carrion from domestic livestock, and the removal of the wolf (Canis lupus). The mosaic of grassy fields, brush, and woodlots created by farming areas that were once covered with unbroken forest has provided attractive habitat for the coyote, as well as several other species like the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and raccoon (Procyon lotor).

When considering the expanding range, it is important to know whether it reflects true dispersal of coyotes or whether some recently discovered populations are the result of animals being transplanted into the region by man (Bekoff, 1977). In some states such as Florida and Georgia, coyotes have been introduced (Bekoff, 1977; Chapman and Feldhamer, 1982; Martell et al., 1984).  Paradiso (1968) considered the expansion of the coyote into Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana to have been unassisted by humans. Expansion of the range of the species in North Carolina (where it fully occupies the state, although it has not reached its carrying capacity in many parts) has been rapid because it entered the state from several directions and because of deliberate and accidental release (Debow et al 1998). Fisher (1977) argues that the pattern of range expansion in New York state -- entry from the north, circling the Adirondack region before colonizing it, and expansion southwards and westwards at 70-80 km per decade -- suggests 'a correlative relationshiop between anthropogenic land use and coyote range expansion', rather than expansion due to translocations and releases, or numerical expansion of an already present population.

Where coyotes have been deliberately introduced, this appears to have been done so that they could be hunted (Carnivore Ecology Research Project, 2013; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2013).

Chambers (1987) states that the coyote’s range now extends eastward to the Atlantic Ocean and includes 'most of the northeastern states of the USA, with the exception of the major metropolitan areas of Philadelphia and New York City.... Some range expansion continues in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Estimated statewide populations are highest in Minnesota (40,000), Michigan (25,000), Wisconsin (14,000) and Illinois (12,500) where highest densities are 100/100 mi. Highest densities in the eastern portion of the region are in Maine (55/100 mi), New York (40/100 mi) and Vermont (10 family units/ 100 mi) with the highest numbers in Maine (12,000) and New York (10,000).'

The mid-Atlantic region, which encompasses areas of the states of Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia, was the last area of the eastern continental U.S. to be colonized by C. latrans (Parker 1995) and has the smallest number of studies on the species. In contrast, states with large numbers of studies were colonized earlier (e.g. Illinois, Tennessee) or have an individual researcher focusing their efforts there (e.g. Maine, Massachusetts) (Mastro 2011).

Coyotes had reached the southeastern USA by the 1960s; in recent years, they have reached almost the whole of Florida, mostly by natural range expansion. (McCown and Scheick, 2007).


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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Florida 1920's Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes No Bekoff (1977); Coates et al. (2011); Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (2013)
Georgia   Yes No Bekoff (1977)

Risk of Introduction

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C. latrans is increasing in distribution as humans continue to modify the landscape, aided by its versatility, especially in its ability to exploit human-modified environments (Gese et al., 2008).


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C. latrans utilizes almost all available habitats including prairie, forest, desert, mountain and tropical ecosystems. Its ability to exploit human resources allows it to occupy urban areas. Water availability may limit distribution in some desert environments (Gese et al., 2008).

Many references indicate that the species was originally found mostly in relatively open habitats, particularly the grasslands and sparsely wooded areas of the western United States. Whether or not this was true, it has adapted to and now exists in virtually every type of habitat, arctic to tropical, in North America, including deserts, swamps, tundra, grasslands, brush and dense forests, from below sea level to high mountain ranges and at all intermediate altitudes. High densities also appear in the suburbs of Los Angeles, Pasadena, Phoenix, and other western cities (Green et al., 1994).

Spowart and Samson (1986) agree that the species evolved in a plains environment and was historically most numerous in western grasslands where large ungulate populations were high. It flourished in the shortgrass-steppe, semiarid sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)-grasslands, and deserts, and ranged from deserts and plains to alpine areas of adjacent mountains. Today, range expansions indicate that it can be successful in any plant community from the tropics of Guatemala to the tundra of northern Alaska (Spowart and Samson, 1986).

Although it occurs in most plant communities throughout its range, the species does show some preferences.  In the Intermountain region, it is closely associated with sagebrush communities. C. latrans in eastern Nevada preferred black sagebrush (Artemisia nova) flats to other habitats -- these flats were areas of highest black-tailed jackrabbit (Lepus californicus) densities (McAdoo and Klebenow, 1979).  In the Sierra Nevada, California, C. latrans inhabit almost every plant community and successional stage.  However, they prefer grass-forb and shrub-conifer seedling-conifer sapling communities (Verner and Boss, 1980).

Tesky (1995) lists ecosystems where C. latrans can be found:

White-red-jack pine


Longleaf-slash pine

Loblolly-shortleaf pine








Ponderosa pine


Hemlock-Sitka spruce


Lodgepole pine


Western hardwoods


Desert shrub


Texas savanna

Southwestern shrubsteppe

Chaparral-mountain shrub


Mountain grasslands

Mountain meadows

Plains grasslands


Desert grasslands

Wet grasslands

Annual grasslands


Habitat List

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Cultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details
Disturbed areas Present, no further details
Industrial / intensive livestock production systems Present, no further details
Managed forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details
Rail / roadsides Present, no further details
Urban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details
Arid regions Present, no further details
Cold lands / tundra Present, no further details
Deserts Present, no further details
Natural forests Present, no further details
Natural grasslands Present, no further details
Riverbanks Present, no further details
Scrub / shrublands Present, no further details
Wetlands Present, no further details

Biology and Ecology

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C. latrans has 39 pairs of chromosomes (Wurster and Benirschke, 1968). The autosomes are acrocentric or telocentric and the sex chromosomes are submetacentric.  Fertile hybrids have been produced by crossing coyotes with domestic dogs (Young and Hartley, 1951; Kennelly and Roberts, 1969; Silver and Silver, 1969; Mengel, 1971), with wolves (C. rufus and C. lupusYoung and Hartley, 1951; Kolenosky, 1971; Paradiso and Nowak, 1971; Riley and McBride, 1975), and with the jackal C. aureus (Seitz, 1971).  Coyote-dog hybrids show decreased fecundity (Mengel, 1971). Schadler (2010) argues that differences in coyote and dog reproductive behaviour prevent dog genes from persisting in the coyote gene pool.

Genetic studies by Wilson et al. (2000) suggest that C. latrans, the eastern Grey Wolf (C. lupus lycaon) and the Red Wolf (C. rufus) represent a common North American canid lineage distinct from that of the Grey Wolf (C. lupus). According to NatureServe (2013), 'C. lupus lycaon genes are apparently incorporated into the C. latrans gene pool in the northeastern USA, and C. rufus genes in the southeastern U.S., due to extensive hybridization'. A study of mitochondrial DNA by Lehman et al. (1991) found that transfer of coyote mitochondrial DNA into wolf populations had occurred through hybridization in a contiguous geographic region in Minnesota, Ontario, and Quebec, but not elsewhere; the frequency of coyote-type mtDNA in these wolf populations was greater than 50%. No coyotes sampled had a wolf-derived mtDNA genotype, and it is suggested that the observed pattern resuls from hybridization between male wolves and female coyotes in regions where coyotes have only recently become abundant following conversion of forests to farmlands (Lehman et al., 1991), but more recent studies (Benson et al., 2012; Wheeldon and Patterson, 2012) demonstrate gene flow to and from males and females of both species.

Reproductive Biology

Green et al. (1994) describe the reproductive biology of the coyote as follows:

'Coyotes usually mate in February and March, producing litters about 9 weeks (60 to 63 days) later in April and May. Females sometimes breed during the winter following their birth, particularly if food is plentiful. Average litter size is 5 to 7 pups, although up to 13 in a litter has been reported.... Coyotes are capable of hybridizing with dogs and wolves, but reproductive dysynchrony and behaviours generally make it unlikely. Hybrids are fertile, although their breeding seasons do not usually correspond to those of coyotes.

Coyote dens are found in steep banks, rock crevices, sinkholes, and underbrush, as well as in open areas. Usually they are in areas selected for protective concealment. Den sites are typically located less than a mile (km) from water, but may occasionally be much farther away. C. latrans will often dig out and enlarge holes dug by smaller burrowing animals. Dens vary from a few feet (1 m) to 50 feet (15 m) and may have several openings.

Both adult males and females hunt and bring food to their young for several weeks. Other adults associated with the denning pair may also help in feeding and caring for the young. Coyotes commonly hunt as singles or pairs; extensive travel is common in their hunting forays. They will hunt in the same area regularly, however, if food is plentiful. They occasionally bury food remains for later use.

Pups begin emerging from their den by 3 weeks of age, and within 2 months they follow adults to large prey or carrion. They are normally weaned by 6 weeks of age and are frequently moved to larger quarters such as dense brush patches and/or sinkholes along water courses. The adults and pups usually remain together until late summer or fall when pups become independent.'

In a study about coyote reproduction in the Mediterranean climates associated with Pacific-coastal North America, in which 441 postmortem coyotes were examined, the proportion of females breeding increased with age from 13% of those in their first year to 100% of 4th-to-9th-year females. Litter size increased with age to 6 years and then decreased. Whether yearlings attained breeding condition appeared to depend on their nutritional condition (Sacks, 2005).

Pups sometimes remain in the group until the next breeding season begins, or beyond that past their first birthday when they may assist their parents in care of the subsequent year's litter (B. Patterson, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, personal communication, 2013).

Coyotes are territorial, monogamous and monoestrous, and there are no records of a litter of pups being successfully reared by a transient female or a pair (B. Patterson, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, personal communication, 2013). There is a record of a subordinate female having a litter in a separate den in the same territory as the dominant breeding pair (Gese et al., 1996).

More information on coyote reproduction can be found in Sacks (2005) and Carlson and Gese (2008, 2009).

Activity Patterns

Coyotes are active day and night, with peaks in activity at sunrise or sunset.  Generally, activity and movements such as foraging are greatest at night.  Andelt (1987) found that daytime activity increased during the breeding season.  In Arkansas, Gipson and Sealander (1972) found that young were more active than adults during the day.

Population Size and Density

In most areas, coyote numbers are probably controlled by competition for food and by social stress, diseases, and parasites (Andelt 1985). 


(Information mostly from Green et al. (1994) where not specified otherwise).

Coyotes are opportunistic, generalist predators that include many items in their diet, depending on availability. Rabbits top the list of their dietary components. Carrion, rodents, ungulates (usually fawns – predation can be high during fawning according to Andelt (1987)), insects (such as grasshoppers), as well as livestock and poultry, are also consumed. They readily eat fruits such as watermelons, berries, and other vegetative matter, when available. In some areas they feed on human refuse at dump sites and prey on pets (cats and small dogs); in suburban areas they are adept at exploiting human-made food resources and will readily consume dog food or other human-related items. Livestock and wild ungulates may often be represented in coyote stomachs and scats as carrion, but predation on large ungulates (native and domestic) does occur (Andelt 1987).

Coyotes commonly hunt as singles or pairs; extensive travel is common in their hunting forays. They will hunt in the same area regularly, however, if food is plentiful. They occasionally bury food remains for later use.

They are opportunistic and generally take prey that is the easiest to secure. Among larger wild animals, they tend to kill young, inexperienced animals, as well as old, sick, or weakened individuals (Gese and Grothe, 1995), although another study found that in part of the study area the age and health of deer killed by coyotes did not differ significantly from that of road-killed deer (Patterson and Messier, 2003). With domestic animals, they are capable of catching and killing healthy, young, and in some instances, adult prey. Prey selection is based on opportunity and a myriad of behavioral cues.

Predation on livestock is generally more severe during early spring and summer than in winter for two reasons. First, sheep and cows are usually under more intensive management during winter, either in feedlots or in pastures that are close to human activity, thus reducing the opportunity for coyotes to take livestock. Second, predators bear young in the spring and raise them through the summer, a process that demands increased nutritional input, at the time when young sheep or calves are on pastures or rangeland and are most vulnerable to attack. Predation also may increase during fall when young individuals disperse from their home ranges and establish new territories.


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Af - Tropical rainforest climate Tolerated > 60mm precipitation per month
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Tolerated Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Tolerated < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Tolerated Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Tolerated Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Preferred Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Preferred Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)
ET - Tundra climate Preferred Tundra climate (Average temp. of warmest month < 10°C and > 0°C)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aquila chrysaetos Predator Juvenile not specific N
Canis lupus Predator All Stages not specific
Felis concolor Predator All Stages not specific N
Ursus americanus Predator not specific N
Ursus arctos Predator not specific N

Notes on Natural Enemies

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C. latrans is one of the dominant terrestrial carnivores in North America. Mountain lions (Felis concolor) sometimes kill and eat them (Bekoff, 1977). Other predators include humans, grey wolves (C. lupus), black bears (Ursus americanus), and grizzly bears (U. arctos).  Golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) attack young coyotes (Banfield, 1974).

Coyotes are affected by a wide variety of parasites and diseases which are described by Gier et al. (1978); these can sometimes lead to death. Outbreaks of sarcoptic mange, an infestation by microscopic mites (Sarcoptes spp.) that causes thickening of the skin, loss of hair, and itching, are common, as are heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) and hookworm (Ancylostomatidae). Coyotes may also suffer from diseases such as distemper, canine hepatitis, rabies, and parvovirus.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Juvenile coyotes usually disperse alone or sometimes in groups at 6 to 9 months of age during October to February. However, some juveniles do not disperse until their second year. Juvenile coyotes may disperse up to 100 miles (160 km) from their den (Bekoff 1977).  In Minnesota, Berg and Chesness (1978) reported mean dispersal distances of 30 miles (48 km) that occurred at a mean rate of 7 miles (11 km) per week (Chapman and Feldhamer, 1982).  Juvenile dispersal distances averaged 17 to 19 miles (28-31 km) in Alberta (Nellis and Lloyd, 1976), 4 miles (7 km) in Arkansas (Gipson and John, 1972), and 3 to 4 miles (5-6 km) in California (Hawthorne, 1971).

Pathway Causes

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CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
DisturbanceRange increase due to human modification of landscape, and possibly elimination of wolves Yes Yes IUCN/SSC Canid Specialist Group, 2008
Intentional releaseIn Florida and Georgia Yes Yes Bekoff, 1977

Impact Summary

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Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Positive and negative

Economic Impact

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(Text based on Green et al. (1994), with additions and modifications).

Coyotes can kill significant numbers of domestic animals:

Sheep: Palmer et al. (2010) commented that most data on lamb losses to predators in the western USA were over 30 years old. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (1978) estimated the economic impact of coyote predation on producers with predator problems, on producers without predator problems, and on consumers during 1977. They used an average lamb loss rate of 4% (267,000 lambs) and a ewe loss rate of 1.5% (125,000 ewes) to estimate an economic loss of $19 million to producers from coyote predation in the 17 western states. The reduced number of sheep and lambs resulted in a higher market price, which benefited producers by $6 million. The net impact of coyote predation on sheep producers was thus a loss of $13 million; the impact on consumers was $4 million in additional costs. The General Accounting Office (1990) estimated that coyotes in 17 western states killed sheep and lambs valued at $18 million in 1989. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (1991) reported that sheep and lamb losses to coyotes in the United States were valued at $18.3 million in 1990. In 1999, sheep and lamb losses from animal predators totaled 273,000, representing 36.7% of total losses from all causes and a financial value of $16.5 million; coyotes accounted for 60.7% of the losses to predators (National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2000). In 2004 the figures were similar: 224,000 sheep lost to predators, representing 37.3% of total losses and $18.3 million in value, with coyotes accouting for 60.5% of animals lost to predators and 58.5% of value lost to predators (National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2005). Palmer et al. (2010) found in a study in Utah in 2006-2007 that 3.3% of all lambs in the herd were lost to coyotes, compared to 7.7% in the 1970s (although other predators killed more than in the 1970s).

Cattle: The US Fish and Wildlife Service (1978) reported calf losses between birth and weaning to coyotes across the United States at 0.4%, with predation decreasing to nearly zero by weaning time. Dorrance (1982) reported that coyotes were responsible for 16% of the 1520 confirmed predation losses of cattle in Alberta from 1974 to 1978. Coyote predation on calves caused producers with coyote problems across the United States to lose an estimated $20 million. However, because of the greater price flexibility of beef compared with sheep, the reduction in the number of beef calves marketed (estimated at 0.4%, or 115,000 fewer calves) resulted in a higher price, which benefited beef producers by $81 million. The net impact of the reduced supply of beef as a result of coyote predation was a gain of $61 million to beef producers, but it cost consumers an additional $98 million in higher prices for beef, resulting in an overall loss of $37 million. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (1992) reported that cattle and calf losses to coyotes in the United States were valued at $24.3 million in 1991. As coyote populations have increased in the east, so have conflicts. In 2005, 35,000 cattle and calves worth >$20 million dollars were lost to coyotes in the eastern U.S., 3 times the number of animals lost to coyotes 14 years earlier in 1991 (National Agricultural Statistics Service, 1992, 2006). Across the whole of the USA, coyotes killed 116,700 cattle in 2010 (53.1% of those killed by predators, although predator losses only made up 5.5% of total losses), with a value of $48,185,000 (National Agricultural Statistics Service, 2011).

Goats: Coyote predation also can cause substantial losses of domestic goats. In three studies in Texas, where an estimated 1.1 million goats (about 90% of the goats in the United States) are raised (Scrivner et al., 1985), predators were reported to take 18.1% of the adults and 33.9% of the kids (Pearson, 1986). The National Agricultural Statistics Service (1991) reported that goat losses to coyotes in the United States were valued at $5.7 million in 1990. In 1999, coyotes were the largest predator of goats in 3 major states (Arizona, New Mexico and Texas), accounting for 35.6% of goat losses to predators; the total value of goats lost to all predators was $3.4 million.

Poultry: Pearson (1986) stated that predators, particularly coyotes, accounted for losses of hundreds of chickens and turkeys in the 14 western states. In one study, Andelt and Gipson (1979) reported that between June 4 and August 31, 1976, a mated pair of coyotes apparently killed 268 domestic turkeys in Nebraska valued at $938.

Livestock in general: Although the average value of livestock losses to coyotes reflects the overall impact on producers, it does not reflect the severity of losses to some individuals. Balser (1964) and Gee et al. (1977) indicated that coyote predation was much more serious for some producers than others. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service (1978), most sheep producers suffered no or minor predator losses, whereas 20% to 25% of the producers suffered losses significantly higher than the average. These losses can drive producers out of business because of low profit margins. Nonfatal injuries and harassment of livestock by coyotes also can result in reduced weight gain and subsequent reductions in profit.

Fruit: McCown and Scheick (2007) suggest that coyotes could be a crop pest in Florida due to their habit of eating watermelons, but say that they have not in fact been reported as a significant nuisance to watermelon growers in the state.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Coyotes have a positive impact by helping to keep in check many small mammal populations, such as mice and rabbits -- if populations of these mammals were allowed to become too large it would result in habitat degradation. Coyotes also often aid in the dispersal of seeds; seeds of oneseed juniper (Juniperus monosperma) and Indian manzanita (Arctostaphylos mewukka) have been found in coyote scats (Germano, 1978; Kauffman and Martin, 1991).

There is conflicting evidence regarding the notion that coyote predation is a primary limiting factor on populations of large ungulates (Poulle et al., 1993; Ballard et al., 2001; Kilgo et al., 2010).

Impact on Biodiversity

The principal threat to the persistence of the endangered red wolf (Canis rufus) in the wild in the southeastern USA is hybridization with C. latrans (Miller et al., 2003). Eastern wolves (C. lycaon or C. lupus lycaon) are threatened by hybridization in Ontario (Benson et al., 2012).

C. latrans predation threatens an endangered population of caribou (Rangifer tarandus) in southeastern Quebec, Canada (the only remaining population south of the St. Lawrence River) (Crête and Desrosiers, 1995), as well as the possibly endangered rabbit Sylvilagus dicei in Costa Rica (IUCN, 2012); and as an egg predator C. latrans affects sea turtles in Florida (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 2012).

In all these cases, the coyote has spread to the area comparatively recently.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Canis rufusCR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered) CR (IUCN red list: Critically endangered)North CarolinaHybridizationAdams et al., 2003a
Rangifer tarandus (reindeer)No DetailsQuebecPredationBoisjoly et al., 2010; Crête and Desrosiers, 1995

Social Impact

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In the northeastern USA, anecdotal reports of coyotes killing pets in backyards are on the rise. The bulk of coyote complaints, concerns, and questions received from the public state wildlife agencies are from areas with high human populations. The impact of growing and more visible coyote populations on deer abundance is a concern in some areas. (Curtis et al 2007). There is a documented case of the killing of a dog by a single coyote. The dog had been with its owner who was cross-country skiing at dusk. After the kill, the coyote joined two others of its pack, and the dog was partly eaten (Billodeaux 2007).

Coyote attacks on humans are uncommon, but have become increasingly frequent, for example in California (Timm et al., 2004). In the 30 years leading up to March 2006, at least 160 attacks occurred in the United States, mostly in the Los Angeles County area (Dell'Amore, 2006).  Data from the USDA's Wildlife Services, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other sources show that while 41 attacks occurred in California during 1988–1997, 48 attacks were verified from 1998 to 2003. The majority of these incidents occurred in Southern California near the suburban-wildland interface (Timm et al., 2004).

White and Gehrt (2009) provide an analysis of coyote attacks in the USA and Canada, with information on the characteristics of the attacks and the victims, and suggestions for preventing future attacks. They argue that there is a need for standardized reporting of attacks.

Two fatal coyote attacks have been confirmed by experts: the Kelly Keen coyote attack and the Taylor Mitchell coyote attack. In 1981, in Glendale, California, a coyote attacked a 3-year old toddler in the front yard of her home. She was rescued by her father and rushed to the hospital, but died due to blood loss and a broken neck (Timm et al., 2004; Harral, 2011).  In October 2009, Taylor Mitchell, a 19-year-old Canadian folk singer on break from a concert tour, died from injuries sustained in an attack by a group of eastern coyotes while hiking on the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia, Canada (CBC News, 2009).

Once coyotes have begun acting boldly or aggressively around humans, it is unlikely that any attempts at hazing can be applied with sufficient consistency or intensity to reverse the coyote habituation. In these circumstances, removal of the offending animals is probably the only effective strategy (Timm et al., 2004). Public education is the key to getting citizens to have a good understanding of the problem and its causes, so that measures are effectively implemented with enough public support to reduce future attacks on humans and pets (Baker, 2007).

The coyote serves as a host for a number of diseases (including rabies, although infrequently -- Rosatte, 2002)). It may also compete with hunters for deer, rabbits, and other game species.

Recently, coyotes have become a potential hazard to aircraft at the Yellowknife airport, Canada (Cluff, 2006).

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Invasive in its native range
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts animal health


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Coyotes help to control some agricultural pests, such as rodents, and can (McCown and Scheick, 2007) have an impact on invasive species such as feral cats. Their pelts are also still collected and sold in some areas; the long dense fur produces pelts that are sought for fur coats, fur trim and other apparel (Voigt and Berg, 1987). In Texas, the coyote is the second most important furbearing animal in the state besides the raccoon (Davis and Schmildly, 1994). During the 1970s and 1980s, pelts became quite valuable. When the fur industry collapsed, the demand for coyote pelts diminished (Whitaker, 1996), although in 2012-2013 pelt prices were rising to the extent of providing economic incentives for their harvest (B. Patterson, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, personal communication, 2013).

Uses List

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  • Biological control


  • Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)


  • Skins/leather/fur

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Coyote-dog and coyote-wolf hybrids exist in some areas and may vary greatly from typical C. latrans in size, colour, and appearance. Also, C. latrans in the New England states may differ in colour from typical western coyotes. Many are black, and some are reddish. These colorations may be partially due to past hybridization with dogs and wolves (Green et al., 1994). Hybridization is also possible with red wolves (C. rufus); see Riley and McBride (1975) for detailed comparison of external characteristics of red wolves, coyotes, and hybrids (Bekoff, 1977).

True wolves are also present in some parts of the coyote’s range, particularly in Canada, Alaska, Montana, northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Relatively few wolves remain in the southern United States and Mexico (Green et al., 1994).

Prevention and Control

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Methods of coyote control have been described in the literature (Andelt, 1985; Bekoff, 1977; Chapman and Feldhamer, 1982; Voigt and Berg, 1987; Mitchell et al., 2004; Sacks et al., 1999; Conner et al., 2008; Wilson et al., 2011; Conner et al., 1998).  The impacts of control on population densities, behaviour, and ecology are not well known.  C. latrans populations are able to maintain themselves under considerable human-induced mortality.  Their means of survival include behavioral adaptations and biological compensatory mechanisms such as increased rates of reproduction, survival, and immigration (Andelt 1985).

Mitchell et al. (2004) concluded that the greatest impediments to the effective management of coyote predation of livestock were the scarcity of selective control methods, the lack of understanding of the details of coyote behavioral ecology relative to livestock depredation and wild prey abundance, the absence of solid research examining the effectiveness of different control techniques in a variety of habitats and at multiple predation intensities, and the dearth of rigorous controlled experiments analyzing the operational efficacy of selective removal versus population reduction. The alpha coyotes, the most likely to kill livestock, are the most resistant to non-selective removal techniques.

The widespread use of bounties to reduce coyote numbers and livestock predation has been largely ineffective -- there are no published data demonstrating the effectiveness of a bounty or other widespread indiscriminate harvest (B. Patterson, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, personal communication, 2013).

Coyote population control efforts may affect the social organization and activity patterns of coyotes.  In areas where population control is not practiced, most coyotes exist in relatively "large" groups, whereas coyotes in areas where populations are controlled generally exist in "smaller" groups.  Coyotes have been reported as more active during the day where they are uncontrolled (Gipson and Sealander, 1972; Andelt and Gipson, 1979) than in population-controlled areas (Roy and Dorrance, 1985).  Roy and Dorrance (1985) reported that they avoided open areas near roads during daylight hours in areas where they were hunted.

For managing coyote damage to livestock farming, a variety of control methods must be available since no single method is effective in every situation. Success usually involves an integrated approach, combining good husbandry practices with effective control methods for short periods of time. Regardless of the means used to stop damage, the focus should be on damage prevention and control rather than elimination of coyotes. It is neither wise nor practical to kill all coyotes. It is important to try to prevent coyotes from killing calves or sheep for the first time. Once a coyote has killed livestock, it will probably continue to do so if given the opportunity. Equally important is taking action as quickly as possible to stop coyotes from killing after they start (Green et al., 1994).

Foothold traps (Nos. 3 and 4) are effective and are the most versatile control tool. Snares are effective where coyotes pass through or under net-wire fences and in trail sets (Green et al., 1994).

Shooting from the ground is effective; rabbit distress calls or mimicking howling or other coyote sounds can be used to bring coyotes within shooting distance. Aerial hunting is effective in removing coyotes where terrain, ground cover, vegetation, regulations, and land ownership conditions permit (Hygnstrom et al., 1994).

Hunting with dogs is effective for trailing coyotes from kill sites, locating dens, running coyotes, and assisting with aerial hunting or calling (Green et al., 1994).

Adult coyotes and/or their young can be removed from dens (Green et al., 1994).

Fencing, frightening devices and repellents, guard dogs or other animals, and toxicants can also be used to prevent predation on livestock (Green et al., 1994).

Conner et al. (2008) developed a mathematical model for evaluating coyote management strategies; it suggested that for lethal methods, spatially intensive removals were more efficient and long lasting than random removal, but that sterilization appeared to be the strategy with the largest and most lasting effect on coyote population dynamics. However, sterilization could only be done by capturing and surgically sterilizing individual coyotes, and was considered to be in general impractical until a cheap and simple delivery method was available.

Cultural control and sanitary measures

Livestock husbandry practices that can help reduce coyote predation include: selecting pastures that have a lower incidence of predation; herding of livestock, which generally reduces predation due to human presence during the herding period; changing the lambing/kidding/calving seasons; shed lambing/kidding/calving, which usually reduce coyote predation; and removal of carrion to help limit coyote populations (Green et al., 1994).

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Several gaps in knowledge about C. latrans still remain: possible modes of fertility control; selective management of problem animals; effects of control; genetic differentiation from other canids (particularly the red wolf C. rufus); development of non-lethal depredation techniques; interactions of coyotes and other predators; coyote-prey interactions; human-coyote interactions and conflicts at the urban interface; factors influencing prey selection; communication; adaptations in urban and rural environments; and interactions with threatened and endangered species (Gese et al., 2008).

Curtis et al. (2007) list the areas where further research is needed on coyotes in human-altered and in particular suburban habitats: changes in the social structure and territorial behavior of coyotes; when they are active and where they forage, especially in relation to human activity; and birth rates and survivorship, which are needed to model future population growth. Reliable and cost-effective census techniques are currently lacking. Studying coyotes in residential areas will provide baseline data for public education program to reduce human behaviours that may increase conflicts with coyotes.

A review of the literature by Mastro et al. (2011) illuminated deficiencies in the quality and quantity of information in all areas of eastern coyote ecology. This is compounded by the fact that a significant number of documents on eastern coyotes are unpublished or not readily available.  The lack in the literature of ecological terms (e.g. ‘exotic species’), geographical terms (e.g. ‘Delaware’, ‘Maryland’, and ‘Rhode Island’) and key species names (e.g. ‘shorebird’) suggest these areas should be priorities of future research. Information about populations, social behaviour, home range, and foraging ecology are of particular priority as this information is vital for wildlife managers to understand and address their impacts.


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Links to Websites

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Animal Diversity Web
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Florida's Large Carnivores
South Florida Coyote Study
USDA Forest Service Fire Effects Information System


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World: Canid Specialist Group, IUCN, SSC, Tubney House, Oxford, UK,

USA: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (Florida FWC), Florida,

USA: USDA APHIS Wildlife Services, Lakewood, Colorado 80228,


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31/01/13: Original text by:

Eduardo A. Ventosa-Febles, Effective Environmental Restoration Inc., Urb. Monte Rio, 20 Carite, Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico 00623-9351.

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