This is my first “Nature Note” in quite a while. My apologies, I have been busy with a number of other activities, especially working up lists of the mushrooms of the J.J. Collett Natural Area (see jjcollett.com) and of our natural quarter NW of Winfield, AB. The subject of today’s note is the coyote.
Coyotes occur throughout Alberta and are found only in North America. They have persisted in spite of widespread shooting and trapping. They are grey-brown in color, have a bushy tail and a pointed nose. Adults are about as large as a medium-sized dog. Mating occurs in late winter and their pups are born in the spring in underground dens.
Coyotes will eat a wide range of food, but they primarily search out small rodents, such as voles and mice. They will also eat road-kill, bird’s eggs, hares and they occasionally kill fawns or calves. In the fall, their droppings often have numerous chokecherry pits.
At night, coyotes often vocalize with a yip-yip-yip-howl call that can be heard when the animals are a long way off. They often antagonize farm dogs.
In late winter, especially when food is scarce, some animals lose much of their hair due to a sarcoptic mange (scabies) infestation.
The best source of information about the coyote is Naughton, D., 2012. The Natural History of Canadian Mammals. Canadian Museum of Nature. 784 pp.
Coyotes are part of our natural world and they do a lot of good by helping to control rodent populations. Enjoy them.