Coyote (Landscape, with gallery border)
Hayden Valley, Yellowstone National Park (USA)
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Coyotes (Canis latrans) are intelligent and adaptable. They can be found throughout North and Central America, thriving in major urban areas as well as in remote wilderness. This adaptability helped coyotes resist widespread efforts early in the 1900s to exterminate them in the West, including Yellowstone National Park, where other mid-size and large carnivores such as cougars and wolves were eradicated. The coyote is a common predator in Greater Yellowstone, often seen traveling through open meadows and valleys.
Often mistaken for a wolf, the coyote is about one-third the wolf’s size with a slighter build. Its coat colors range from tan to buff, sometimes gray, and with some orange on its tail and ears. Males are slightly larger than females.
During the 1900s, coyotes partially filled the niche left vacant after wolves were exterminated from the park. In Yellowstone, they lived in packs or family groups of up to seven animals. This social organization is characteristic of coyotes living in areas free from human hunting. With the reintroduction of wolves, Yellowstone coyotes have returned to a more typical social organization—pairs with pups.
Coyotes, also known as “song dogs,” communicate with each other by a variety of long-range vocalizations. You may hear groups or lone animals howling, especially during dawn and dusk periods. Coyotes also mark with their scent (urine and feces) to communicate their location, breeding status, and territorial boundaries.
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