The Outdoor Journal by Kyle Carroll
Late winter is a time of testing for most wildlife species. Food sources are minimal. Survival is the game now. No matter how tough it gets out there when the temperatures drop and day-to-day acquisition of a little food to keep the internal furnace going is all that matters, coyotes seem to thrive.
Coyotes are a very adaptable species. Common in most of North America today even up to the Arctic and down to Mexico, they were once primarily inhabitants of the Great Plains. Lewis and Clark wrote the first recorded description of the coyote in North America. “I Killed a prairie wolf to day about the Size of a Gray fox with a bushy tail, the head and ears like a Fox wolf, and barks like a Small Dog — The animal which we have taken for the Fox is this wolf, we have seen no Foxes” William Clark, September 18, 1804.
Coyotes usually breed in February and March, producing litters about 9 weeks (60 to 63 days) later in April and May. Females sometimes breed during the winter following their birth, particularly if food is plentiful. Average litter size is 5 to 7 pups, although up to 13 in a litter has been reported. More than one litter may be found in a single den; at times these may be from females mated to a single male. As noted earlier, coyotes are capable of hybridizing with dogs and wolves, but reproductive dyssynchrony and behaviors generally make it unlikely.
Mostly active at night, coyotes bed in sheltered areas but do not generally use dens except when raising young. They may seek shelter underground during severe weather or when closely pursued. Their physical abilities include good eyesight and hearing and a keen sense of smell. We'll finish up with coyotes next week.