Coyotes

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Coyote are the symbol of the Southwestern desert, because the howl of the coyote is truly a song of the West. The coyote, scientifically known as Canis Latrans is in the kingdom Animalia. The coyote is in the mammalian class, their order is Carnivora, and they are part of the Canidae family. The scientific name comes from the genus and species, so in this case, the coyote genus is Canis and the species is Latrans. The coyote is found throughout North America from Eastern Alaska to New England and south through Mexico and Panama. Recently, there have been coyote sightings in Florida and Eastern Canada. The coyote is a member of the dog family. Its size and shape is similar to a medium-size Collie dog. A coyote found in the desert weighs about 20 pounds, whereas their mountain kin can weigh up to 50 pounds. Desert Coyote are light gray or tan with a black tip on the tail. Coyotes of the higher elevation have fur that is longer, thicker, and darker. Trappers hunt Mountain Coyotes in the winter for their fur because it develops long and silky. There are not many ways to tell the difference between a Gray Wolf and a coyote. They are of the same genus, and share the same range. The wolf is usually larger and darker. Also, the coyote tail is normally held down, whereas in a wolf is held horizontally. The coyote has a series of high-pitched barks and yelps. The young coyote learns the specific calls from their parents. They have a very acute sense of hearing for detecting prey and avoiding danger. Movement and positioning of the ears is used to communicate mood and rank. Coyote have a highly developed sense of smell for detecting prey and carrion. Other coyotes also use their sense of smell to detect territory markers made. Coyotes has five digits on their forefeet, and four digits on their hind feet. The coyote is a digitigrade, meaning it walks with only its toes touching the ground. The Coyote is one of the most adaptable animals in the world, because it can change its breeding habitat, diet, and social dynamics to survive. A coyote uses urine or their calls to mark their territory. A coyote finds an area that is hidden to dig a den, or to enlarge a past den to meet its needs. They use the dens to sleep, to birth its young, but not to hibernate. The coyote s natural habitat is open grassland, but will move to where food and shelter is available. The coyotes diet does not subsist on domestic animals, such as sheep, poultry, and other livestock. Its principle diet is composed of deer, rabbits, squirrels, small rodents, insects, reptiles, and fruits. A coyote uses a variety of hunting techniques. They might hunt alone or with a group. The coyote tricks its prey by its smell, stalks it for 20-30 minutes, and then attacks it. It might also chase the prey, and when the quarry is exhausted it strikes. A coyote can run to speeds up to 30mph, and can maintain 20mph. Around January and February, a group of males gather around a female, and the female develops a relationship with one of the males. They travel together and then mate. The female bears one litter, which consists of 3-9 puppies a year. This occurs in April or May, because food is most abundant during these months. The gestation period is 63-65 days. After 14 days, the pup s eyes open, and they emerge from their dens a little while after. After three weeks, they start to eat semi-solid food. At 6-10 weeks old, the mother takes the pups out to hunt in a group. Within a year, the pups go out on their own to mark their own territory. As many as 50-70% of all juvenile coyotes die before they reach adulthood. Those that become adults typically live for 3-5 years, where 30-50% of adults die each year. Some human related causes of coyote death include hunting, trapping, and the most common vehicle collision. Diseases and parasites that cause death include Sarcoptic Mange, Canine Distemper, Canine Hepatitis, and Heartworm. In the June 15, 1992 issue of People Weekly, Susan Reed wrote an article about Dick Randall, a former agent of the Department of Agriculture s Animal Damage Control Agency, and how he is trying to stop this program because of the cruelty to these animals. This department is in charge of killing predators of livestock and crops, such as a coyote. Dick said, In one record setting-month in 1972, I gunned down 230 coyotes from an airplane. He continued to say how the killing was beginning to wear on him, and he decided to launch a campaign to stop the slaughter of these predators. If we quit controlling coyotes, we might as well go out of the sheep business, says Jim Magagna, president of the American Sheep Industry Association. The General Accounting Office reported in 1990 that

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