Coyote Behavior and Characteristics

The Eastern Coyote:

Coyotes living in New York State have the appearance similar to that of a German Shepard.  Some physical traits include:

  • Large erect ears
  • Gray, Tan or Reddish Yellow coloring
  • “Bib-like” patch of white fur around neck
  • Generally weigh between 35 to 50 pounds
  • Appear heavier due to a thick, double coat of fur

Coyotes are known to travel in large groups. “Packs” consist of six closely related adults, yearlings and young. Coyote packs are generally smaller than Wolf packs. However, the eastern coyote species in New York does not form a true ‘pack’ like their relative, the wolf.  Instead, they organize as a ‘family unit’. Units are made up of an adult pair and their pups from the current year.  Coyote units will defend a territory of 6 to 15 square miles against other coyotes. This behavior limits their numbers in any one area.

During the Fall and Winter months, coyotes tend to prey on smaller mammals. Winter becomes harder as the populations of small animals decline, so coyotes seek out their largest prey – whitetail deer. Deer are killed by motorist frequently this time of year and can become an important food source for coyotes.

It is common to hear the sounds of coyotes howl in the night, as they are known as nocturnal wildlife. It is easy to think through the echo of the woods that there must be an overflow of them out there, but in reality its only five of six. A small number of coyotes can make a lot of noise.

Our upcoming blog will explore Coyotes Behavior in Suburban Areas.

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