Gateway Gazette

Love is in the Air for Coyotes

Photo Courtesy of Harvey Martens

Have you noticed more coyotes in and around the area? Well, there’s a reason for that – they’re looking for mates!

January and February is mating season for coyotes and their gestation period last approximately 63 days with four to seven pups born per litter. During mating season, coyotes are highly visible as they travel in search of mates. From February to mid-April when the pups are born, and even after, coyote parents are more protective of their denning areas and more active in hunting food. They sometimes are found to be more aggressive towards dogs as they see them as potential threats to their mating success. Another interesting fact about coyotes is that they appear to be strongly monogamous, bonds between alpha pairs are usually only broken up due to the death of one of the pair.

Coyotes have amazing stamina and an innate ability to adapt to civilization, which ensures their survival in many environments. They make their living quarters in secluded, well-drained sites but also are known to reside under buildings, in culverts, and abandoned vehicles. 

These animals are extremely opportunistic in farmyards and will not hesitate to consume cats or small dogs. When it comes to larger prey, such as deer and domestic animals, they prefer to hunt in pairs and groups. Coyotes also readily consume insects, reptiles, berries, grain compost and barnyard waste.

So why do coyotes matter to us? Since the decline of the grey wolf, coyotes have played an important role as top predator in Alberta. These top predators help keep the population of small mammals, such as jackrabbits, in check. Without top predators, the chain reaction occurs where herbivores exhaust their food supply, which leads to less seed production, a loss of biodiversity, reduced habitat for other birds and mammals, and increased soil erosion. Since coyotes are scavengers they also help clear away hazardous animal waste.

Fun Fact: Hybrids called coy-dogs are a cross-breed of coyote and domestic dog. Their offspring show a variety of coat colours and are not as afraid of human. 

Source: Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation

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