A medium-sized, intelligent dog, the coyote (Canis latrans) is found throughout most of British Columbia. It is known for its distinctive call: a series of yelps followed by a long howl.
How to Identify Them
The coyote is recognized by:
- buff grey fur, grizzled by black-tipped guard hairs, slender legs and feet, both of which are paler in colour.
- pointed muzzle
- large pointed ears
- bushy, black-tipped tail, nearly half the body length and carried low while running, unlike that of other dogs.
- Average Weight:
- male: 13 kg (29 lbs)
- female: 11 kg (25 lbs)
Habitat and Food
The versatile coyote favours hilly grasslands dotted with tree bluffs but can also be found near mature forests, logged or burned areas, and arid prairies. Able to adapt to a variety of different habitats and available food, the coyote is one of the few native mammals that has been to adjust to human settlement. The majority of its diet is small mammals and carrion supplemented by birds, insects and fruit. Deer are pulled down by teams of coyotes who rely on cunning rather than on power and speed.
Coyotes are very social. A family pack consists of a mated pair and their playful pups, which both parents help to raise. Adults often play together and show affection for one another. Coyotes swim well and can run for short distances with speed of up to 69 kmph (43 mph). Usually active at night, their senses of smell and hearing are acute, but eyesight is poor.
The coyote must be alert for larger predators such as the wolf, the cougar, the black bear and the grizzly bear. Even the golden eagle has been known to attack a young coyote.,/P>
Pairs will mate for successive years, but not for life. After seasonal migrations for food, the female often returns to bear young in the same territory. Pairs breed in late winter and the young pups averaging five to six per female, are born mid spring in ground burrows.
Captive coyotes have lived up to 15 years but normal life span is probably much less.
The British Columbia Fish and Wildlife Branch is the government agency responsible for the protection and management of fish and wildlife in our province. For further information:
- Ministry of the Environment
Information Services Branch
Province of British Columbia
Ministry of the Environment
- Beckoff, M. 1978. Coyotes: biology, behaviour and management. Academic Press, NY.
- Mattern J. 1999. The Coyote (Wildlife of North America) Capstone Press
- Urban Coyote Project, 1997 supported by the UBC Department of Animal Science, the City of Vancouver, the BCSPCA, the BC Humane Education Society, the Stanley Park Ecology Society.