Coyotes are members of the dog family (Canidae). They are native to western North American but over the past few decades their numbers have increased and they seem to be moving across most of North America. Coyotes appear very similar to the domesticated German Shepard dog but with a more pointed snout and a much bushier tail.
Coyotes are a reddish-brown to gray color with black-tipped guard hairs. They grow to weigh between 18 and 35 pounds but can weigh as much as 55 pounds. They are approximately 18 inches tall at the shoulders and 3-4 feet long. Males are generally larger and heavier than the females. While running, coyotes will hold their tail between their legs and they have a distinctive howl that can be heard most often in the evening hours.
Coyotes typically mate in the later winter and pups are born in the early spring (March and April). Before the females give birth, the adults create a den in areas such as; in a hollow tree, under rocks, in culverts, in abandoned buildings, or in the abandoned den of another animal. Each female delivers 4-7 pups per litter. The pups emerge from the den at about 3-4 weeks of age and are weaned at about 2 months. Most pups stay with their family unit for about 6 months; leaving in the fall to live on their own. However, if plenty of food is available some will remain into the next year, helping to raise and feed the next years pups.
Coyotes are a very adaptable species and can live in urban and suburban areas just as successfully as in woodlands, grasslands, and mountain areas. In open areas, their territory can be 15 or more square miles. In urban areas, their territory can be as small as ¼ of a mile, but typically their territory is 1-3 square miles. They can live alone, in a pair, or in a small pack or group (10 or so individuals). Coyotes are most active at dawn and dusk. Coyotes are omnivores and feed on a wide range of items. Young deer, rabbits, chickens, birds, rodents, insects, fruits, and plants are all included in their diet.
Preventing coyotes from wandering across your property can be a difficult task. Some things that you can do to help deter and prevent them include having secure fencing that is at least 5 ½ feet placed on your property. Make sure to bring in small dogs and cats in the evening. If livestock are on your property be sure that they are also secured in the evening. It can be helpful to install outdoor security lighting to scare coyotes away. If possible having a larger guard dog can also help to keep coyotes away from your property.
The safest way to control coyotes on your property is with the help of a trained wildlife control expert. At Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions, one of the effective methods that we use to capture coyotes is by placing Dirt sets using staked leg-hold traps on coyote trails and near den entrances. These traps are secured so that they will not harm humans and other animals. We have also found using snares concealed in vegetation and brush to be an effective control method for coyotes.