One of the animals that makes its "living" on the fringes of human society is the Coyote or Canis latrans. They are wonderfully resourceful animals and incredibly adaptable. In many Native American cultures they Coyote is a mythical character who is often a grand trickster. Teaching humans lessons through a round-a-bout method.
Coyotes, both eastern and western, are smaller than wolves. Although eastern Coyotes can be much larger than western ones and are sometimes mistaken for wolves. Unlike wolves, which hunt in packs and live mainly on large game, Coyotes are often solitary and can live on everything from grass and grasshoppers to deer mice and deer.
Usually pups are born in the spring, and both the male and female help to raise the pups. For the past two years a female Coyote would come up to the house during mating season and yip and bark playfully at our dogs. It was really cute. Dogs and Coyotes can breed, but it does change the offspring's behavior.
Coyotes have had a very difficult time interacting with humans in the last 100+ years. On average there are 87,000 Coyotes killed every year in the U.S. Often these are state sponsored kills or during specific hunting seasons. However, the reputation of Coyotes as attacking humans is over-rated. The Coyote was given the same reputation as the wolf. The reality is that the best estimates show that there have been 30-40 coyotes attacks on humans that resulted in injuries. In comparison, the Center for Disease Control estimates that 4.7 million people are bitten by domestic dogs every year, and over 300 people have been killed by dogs in the U.S. since 1979. And as far as the concern about Coyotes being a major threat to livestock populations, the highest number I could find for how much of a Coyote's diet was from domestic sheep, was .2% in British Columbia. They will take carcasses if they can find them.
Coyotes are very shy and keep a low-profile. I have seen Coyotes along major highways here in California, in Connecticut, and Missouri. I have seen and tracked Coyotes in parks in St. Louis, and encountered them on running trails in many states. They can be beautiful animals. And remember, they are WILD animals and distance should be given to them when you see them in the wild.
And now you know.
Websites to visit:
A Website run by a friend of mine. A wonderful site to explore more about coyotes and how humans treat and mistreat coyotes. A warning for folks, there are some pictures and videos of coyote killing on this website.