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Coyote Facts | Canadian Rockies Wildlife Guide

Members of the dog family, coyotes (Canis latrans), once occupied open prairies and desert territories, but they now roam the North American continent’s forests, mountains and even residential neighborhoods. Coyotes are known to be extremely resilient. Their ability to adapt to increasingly urban landscapes is observable in how they alter their breeding patterns, diet and social dynamics—giving them competitive advantages over their rural counterparts. As omnivores, coyotes will snack on insects and fruit; prey on livestock, house cats and small dogs; and scavenge carrion and garbage when their preferred diet is unavailable.

The majority of adults have grizzled-gray coats, with a white underbelly, bushy tail and reddish hair on their legs. On average, coyotes weigh between 30 and 40 pounds—about half the weight of a wolf. The coyote is one of the few wild animals whose vocalizations are commonly heard by the human ear. The howl of the coyote is truly a song of the West. They use calls to defend territories and to strengthen social bonds through general communication. At night, coyotes both howl (a high, quavering cry) and emit a series of short, high-pitched yips. Howls are used to keep in touch with other coyotes in the area. At the beginning of the mating season in January, several lone male coyotes may gather around a female to court her, but she will form a relationship with only one of them. The female bears one litter of three to nine pups a year and at 12 weeks of age, the pack abandons den life to travel.

In the wake of anthropogenic encroachment, few species have been able to coexist and expand their range as well as the coyote. Coyotes have quickly evolved to fill gaps left by the reduction of wolf populations and habitat fragmentation from land clearing activities.
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