Photo by: Jerry Mercier

Species: Coyote

Scientific name: Canis latrans

Status: common

Description: The coyote looks like a medium sized dog. However, they are a grey to reddish grey colour, with long soft fur, and a pointed noise with a grey patch between their eyes. Coyotes have a bushy tail with a black tip. They also have “intense” yellowish eyes.

Habitat: This canine is found in all terrestrial habitats, and their range has increased with human habitation. Coyotes are common in cities due to the increased food source (trash humans discard) and prey species that have adapted to human settlements.

Breeding: Coyotes will den in a burrow on a slope, hallow tree trunks, dense piles of wood, and even abandoned cars and den sites will be used for several years. Breeding season is between February and March. Females produce a litter of 3-10 pups which are born between March and May. The male is responsible for “providing for his family”, he will have to hunt for the female and all the pups. Coyotes pups will start to venture outside the den at three weeks of age and will leave their parents care the fall following their birth. If food is abundant, then pups will stay with adults for some time (family pack).

Diet: Coyotes are primarily carnivores, commonly eating squirrels, mice, hares, birds, and amphibians. They will also eat fruits, such as berries, as well as other vegetation and eggs. When live prey is scares, coyotes will feed on carrion (dead animals).

Threats to species: Coyotes are susceptible to a number of wildlife disease including sarcoptic mange (causes hair loss, itching and scabbing), heartworm, hookworm, distemper, rabies (will die without transmitting to other animals), and parvovirus.

Threat to humans: Coyotes have a reputation of being aggressive towards humans or even too friendly with humans. In reality, coyotes are fearful of humans. Coyotes will also commonly take livestock, such as chicken, sheep, pigs, or domestic animals, but it is due to their ease of hunting. They do not target livestock or domestic animals, but if the picking is easy…To prevent negative conflicts with coyotes, watch your animals when outside if you are aware of a coyote in your neighbourhood. If it is getting to close for comfort, make yourself big, wave your hands and make lots of noise. NEVER TURN YOUR BACK to a coyote, walk away slowly while still facing it if it hasn’t run away already.

Fun facts: When a coyote is startled, they will run away with their tails tucked between their hindlegs.

Coyotes can hybridize with other canine species, specifically with dogs (coydog) and wolves (coywolf).


MNR-Wildlife management, encounters with coyotes

Hinterland Who’s Who-

Eder, Tamara, and Kennedy, Gregory. 2011. Mammals of Canada. Lorne Pine Publishing. Edmonton, Alberta.


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