Coyote Facts and Fiction

FICTION: The coyote population in an area should be culled to keep their numbers down since they have no predators except humans.

FACT: Killing coyotes actually results in an INCREASE in their numbers due to some interesting coyote biological and social factors. Coyote alphas are the only ones which breed in an area. When the alpha is killed, all the other female coyotes will produce a litter. Also, with the population of coyotes down, the mothers are able to eat more which, in turn, allows them to produce more milk for their young so that more of them survive into adulthood. Killing coyotes to cull them does not work.

FICTION: Coyotes have moved into the neighborhoods specifically to take advantage of the abundance of pets.

FACT: Coyotes cannot distinguish between your small pet and any other small critter which he is programmed naturally to see as prey. How would they know the difference? Humans need to protect their pets from mishaps involving other humans, cars, other dogs, and wildlife, just as they would do for their children. In studies of the diet of urban coyotes only 1% was related to cats, less for dogs. Coyotes do not predate upon humans.

FICTION: “I saw a 100-pound coyote.”

FACT: most eastern coyotes weigh between 25-35 pounds, with a few reaching 42 pounds. In wintertime, a coyote may look larger because of its thick and long winter coat, which reaches between 2” and 4” in length.

FICTION: If a coyote looks at you, he is displaying aggression and challenging you.

FACT: Coyotes, like humans, look at what is around in their environment. A coyote looking at you is doing nothing more than that.

FICTION: Coyotes are nocturnal and “should not” be seen during daylight hours.

FACT: Coyotes are opportunistic critters, meaning that they will be up and about when it is safest for them. Although they might be out at twilight and nighttime – that is predominantly when they do their hunting – they may be seen at any time of day, including noontime and in broad daylight. It is not abnormal coyote behavior when they are out at that time

FICTION: A coyote seen in a public area or on a sidewalk or street is aggressive.

FACT: Coyotes, the same as humans, use “paths of least resistance” for getting around. Seeing a coyote in a public area does not mean the coyote is aggressive.

FICTION: Coyotes howl when they’ve made a kill.

FACT: Coyotes vocalize for many, many reasons, including greeting each other, responding to sirens, when they’ve been chased or surprised, or communicating with coyotes in the distance.

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