Also known as “song dogs,” coyotes can often be heard howling to one another in the evening or early morning. Highly intelligent and adaptable carnivores, coyotes are the most commonly seen canine in the area. They typically weigh around 30 pounds, have grey fur and pointed ears. Unlike wolves, coyotes do not consistently live in packs; while some live in loose family groups, they typically hunt alone or in pairs.
The average lifespan of a coyote is 6 years, but sometimes can live as long as 13 years. They feed primarily feed on small rodents but occasionally take town an elk calf. They feed on birds, including swans, which are almost the same size as them. They also will feed on the carcasses of other dead mammals.
Coyotes give birth to 4 to 8 pups in April. They have a range of 3 to 15 square miles.
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone in 1995, the coyote population plummeted by 50 percent. Now, it appears they have adapted and are once again a viable population.
In Wyoming, coyotes are classified as “vermin.” This means that they can be trapped or shot indiscriminately. Some communities in the state host “coyote derbies”- competitions in which hunters are awarded prizes for killing the most coyotes in a single day. Such large-scale extermination is not only ethically problematic, it also has a negative impact on the surrounding ecosystem.
Right: Paw Print, approximately 2 inches wide with four clawed toes.