Neighborhood Critters – Coyotes

As we examine our “carbon footprint” we learn that our actions affect everything including urban wildlife like the coyote.  In fact, a 2003 study published in the journal Nature concluded that 80 percent of some 1,500 wildlife species sampled are already showing signs of stress from climate change.  The key impact of global warming on wildlife is habitat displacement due to such factors as urban-sprawl, wild fires and drought. Consequently, we are noticing more and more once forest dwelling animals, like deer and coyotes, in our own backyards.

You can track an animal by following his footsteps.  If you looked, you would find coyote footprints throughout all of North America, evidence of their adaptability.

The coyote is the most misunderstood animal in North America.  Coyotes have been hunted, trapped, poisoned, and shot.  This is all part of the ongoing struggle between those who raise livestock and the predatory nature of the coyote.  As predators, they help to maintain the balance between small animals, such as deer and rabbits, and the plants they consume.  When coyotes move into new environments such as cities and towns, free-roaming pets, and gardens are at risk.

Description: Coyotes are members of the same family as foxes, dogs, and wolves.  The color of the coyote varies from grayish brown to yellowish gray on the upper parts, while the throat and belly tend to have a buff or white color. They weigh from 15 to 46 pounds.  During pursuit, a coyote may reach speeds up to 43 mph and can jump over 13 feet.

Habitat: Coyotes may live in forests, on the plains, or in deserts. As humans move into areas where they live, coyotes find new places to live and hunt and are increasing their presence in urban areas.

Diet: Coyotes are versatile carnivores.  They primarily eat small mammals, such as ground squirrels, and mice, though they will eat birds, snakes, and livestock.  Part of the coyote’s success as a species is its dietary adaptability. As such, coyotes have been known to eat human garbage and domestic pets. Fruits and vegetables are a significant part of the coyote’s diet in the autumn and winter months.

Getting Along:

  1. Do not feed coyotes.
  2. Pick up and securely dispose of your trash making sure the lids are tight fitting. Trash attracts coyotes and other urban wildlife to public areas.
  3. Don’t leave pets unattended outside at night – when coyotes typically hunt.
  4. Never leave small children unattended outside; coyotes have recently been seen in residential areas during the daytime.

To empower young people to be environmental leaders