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Whether you love them or loathe them, one thing seems certain— as the most adaptable canine predator in the world, coyotes are here to stay.
Where do they live?
Coyotes originally lived in the prairies and deserts of Mexico and central North America, but now live in every state in the continental U.S. and set up shop throughout Arkansas by the early 1960s. Coyotes have been documented in almost every U.S. city. City life seems to suit them—urban coyotes may live 10 or more years while their country cousins survive about two and half years.
Why have coyotes been persecuted in the past?
When settlers first arrived on the shores of North American, bounties or cash rewards were placed on the most intimidating wildlife. By some estimates, state and federal agents, hunters and ranchers killed more than 20 million coyotes in less than a century. With time, we’ve learned that predators play a crucial role in healthy wildlife populations.
How do coyotes respond to this type of pressure?
Females may come into heat at a younger age and increase their litter sizes. The howls and yips of coyotes can actually be their way of taking a head count. If their howls go unanswered, it triggers a response to produce more young. Five to six pups is normal. But, when populations are suppressed, litters can be as high as 12 to 16 pups.
Should I be scared of them?
For good reason, coyotes maintain an innate fear of humans and alter their behavior to avoid us. They are typically active during the day, dawn and dusk, but urban coyotes are active mostly at night. They also avoid residential and commercial areas if possible and search out those fragments of natural habitat that remain—river and utility corridors, greenbelts, parks, and cemeteries.
What do they eat?
They chow down on whatever is available including fruits, vegetables and animal prey. Urban coyotes stick to a natural diet. Rodents and rabbits are two favorites—one coyote can eat up to 1,500 rodents in a year.
What are some tips to live safely with coyotes?
Like other wild animals, coyotes can lose their fear of humans when they associate us with food. Do not feed coyotes, either accidentally or on purpose—bring pet food in at night, secure lids on trash containers, and remove fallen fruit or compost from yards. And, do not leave small dogs or cats out at night. While not their preferred prey, coyotes will make them a meal if given the opportunity.
Should urban coyotes be removed?
The AGFC’s Facebook page lights up when a coyote is spotted in an urban or suburban area—a common response is to ask for the animal’s removal. But, history shows that we cannot eliminate the coyote. Our efforts can have the opposite effect. Removing coyotes from an area provides an opening for others to move in and may increase the population until new boundaries are sorted out. The best bet to deal with urban coyotes is to let them work out their own territories; they will naturally stabilize to the area’s carrying capacity. Wild animals have learned to change their lifestyles to suit ours; small adaptations on our part will let wildlife be wild, even in town.
Urban coyote information: https://urbancoyoteinitiative.com/