Coyote (Canis latrans)

Description
Coyote

Size

  • In comparison to Alberta's other native wild dog species, the coyote is smaller in size than the gray wolf, but larger than the red fox.
  • Adult weight can range from 10 to 23 kilograms (22 to 50 pounds).

Appearance

  • Characteristic features include:
    • Grey to reddish grey fur coat, with black markings on the back and tail and lighter fur underneath.
    • Long ears
    • Slender, pointed muzzle
    • Bushy tail that is usually carried low and close to the hind legs
Distribution
  • The coyote is the most numerous member of the dog family in Alberta. It occurs in all regions of the province.
Natural History

Habitat

  • The coyote is highly adaptable, and can be found in all terrestrial habitats in Alberta.

Food

  • Coyotes are opportunists. Hares and mice are the most important prey species, but the carrion of livestock and other large mammals is often the most important winter food source in some areas.
  • Blueberries and other fruits are heavily used in season.
  • Coyotes seldom hunt in packs but occasionally several may gather at carcasses or other communal feeding sites.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • Coyotes mate in February or March.
  • For a natal den, the female enlarges a rodent, rabbit or badger hole.
  • Young are born in April or May in litters of five to seven pups.

Growth Process

  • Both parents help feed the young until they are about two months old. The family unit then leaves the den and travels together until fall.
  • Family groups tend to split up in the fall, with individuals hunting alone or in pairs.
Conservation and Management

Status

The coyote is classified as Secure in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Issues

  • Long considered a pest by many landowners, the coyote has survived repeated attempts to eliminate it. The coyote has been able to adapt to many of the changes brought about by man.

Current management

Hunting

  • An Alberta resident may hunt coyote, without a licence, throughout the year on land to which he or she has the right of access, except on unoccupied public lands in the Green Area (forested public lands), where hunting is only permitted during coyote hunting season.
  • A non-resident of Alberta who holds a wolf/coyote licence may hunt coyote throughout the year on land to which he or she has the right of access, except on unoccupied public lands in the Green Area where hunting is only permitted during coyote hunting season.
  • If a big game season (other than cougar) is open, the non-resident hunter must possess the big game licence for that season.

Specific season information is provided in the current Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My Wild Alberta website at:

Trapping

Specific season information is provided in the current Alberta Guide to Trapping Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My Wild Alberta website at:

Similar Species
  • Gray Wolf
    The wolf is distinguished from the coyote by its larger size, broader face, and less-pointed muzzle.
Related Links

 

Page Information

Updated: Jan 8, 2014