Though Center for Wildlife is not permitted or equipped to treat coyote, we do field calls on “nuisance” wildlife including coyote, or folks that may be concerned about spotting nocturnal animals like these during the day. With an increase in admissions due to intentional harm (we’ve seen a jump from 4% to 8% of admissions due to either shooting or taking animals from the wild from 2016 to 2018), we continue our work on promoting co-existence and stewardship for local wildlife and ecosystems through our hotline, education, and outreach programming. The gorgeous Eastern coyote in the video was captured on our Executive Director’s wildlife camera.
The Eastern coyote is much different from it’s Western counterparts. Males can weigh up to 55 pounds (Western coyote males are more in the 30-35 pound range), and because they have filled the wolf’s niche they hunt and live in packs with an alpha female and male in charge. How does that translate to living among the Eastern coyote? It means that they can help to balance not only rodent populations, but also the white tailed deer which has skyrocketed due to humans extirpating (hunting to extinction) the gray wolf in our region. It also means that an open season on coyotes triggers responsive reproduction, and instead of reducing their numbers has increased their population and allowed them to expand their range to most of Canada and the United States in under 100 years. This is because the alpha female limits breeding for anyone else beyond herself, but if she is trapped or killed anyone and everyone can breed, and have large litters. Unfortunately, at least 500,000 coyotes are killed in the US every year and our state and federal governments maintain an open season year round.
Why are they so hated? At Center for Wildlife, many callers report that they are afraid of seeing them out during the day, citing the fact that they have heard this means they have rabies. Others are worried about their outdoor cats or backyard chickens. Unfortunately outdoor cats kill up to 3 billion songbirds and small mammals every year, and both wildlife and cats are safer with kitty indoors. Though coyote is blamed often, great horned owl’s top prey is a skunk, and cats are actually quite close to that in size. Backyard chickens and other pets rely on us as humans to build them proper enclosures and take them in at night to keep them safe not only from wildlife but also from the elements. A well-designed coop can solve any wildlife/domestic animal conflict. Its also important to note that coyotes will breed in late January/ early February (females are only receptive for 5 days during that time!), and after a 63-day gestation period, 4-8 pups will be born. This puts pups being born and raised in our region around April. Moms will nurse those young for up to 7 weeks, and she and the pups are voraciously hungry! During rearing season, it is not uncommon for adults to be seen during the daytime as they need to hunt day and night to keep up the food demands of the growing pack.
Tips on co-existence: Though coyotes have been vilified for centuries, there have actually only been 2 recorded incidences in US and Canada where a human was killed by a coyote. For the most part, they are a secretive species that would prefer to live in edge habitat, and manage our rodent and deer populations, preventing the spread of disease from overpopulation including lyme disease hosted by white footed mouse and deer. Here’s how to live with our resilient neighbors:
*** Do not leave pet food or any food scraps unsecured around you yard
*** Use 1/4 inch hardware cloth to line any chicken or poultry coops
*** Secure chicken or poultry indoors at night
*** Keep cats inside
*** If you see a coyote, make eye contact, jump up and down, wave arms, and make a lot of noise with anything available
*** Spread the word!
Click here (http://www.projectcoyote.org/resources/) to visit Project Coyote, an incredible resource for these misunderstood animals. We were honored to have Chris Schadler, wild canid ecologist and Project Coyote representative speak at last year’s Call of the Wild.
#coexistence #weareallconnected #coyote