Watchable Wildlife: Eastern Coyote - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation

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Watchable Wildlife: Eastern Coyote

A coyote walking through a field
Eastern coyote - Canis latrans
Photo: Susan Shafer

Did You Know?

  • Coyotes are related to wolves, but are lighter and smaller.
  • Coyotes may be seen alone or in small groups of up to six coyotes (often related) during late summer and early fall.
  • The coyote's howl and short, high-pitched yelps can be sometimes heard as far away as three miles. They are especially vocal in late winter, during their breeding season.
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What to Watch for:

Size:

About 4-5 feet long (including tail) and15-20 inches high at the shoulder; 35-45 pounds. The tail is usually carried down.

Appearance:

Most coyotes have a coat that is blonde or reddish blonde to dark tan washed with black. However, they can range from completely "blonde" to nearly black. Legs, ears, and cheeks are usually reddish.

Tracks:

Similar to medium-sized dog tracks with four toes, claw marks, and a rear pad. Looking for coyote tracks in the winter is a good way to enjoy the outdoors. Look for coyote tracks moving alone or in pairs. Follow the tracks and learn about their habits and where they live.

Scat:

They leave a dropping similar to a dog, but look for parts of the animals they eat, such as hair and bones. Also look for parts of fruits or nuts.

For more information about coyote natural history and appearance, visit the Eastern Coyote page.

Where to Watch:

They can be found in all areas of upstate New York and in many habitat types, but especially woodlands, grasslands, and brushy fields.

What to Listen for:

Chorus of howls and short, high-pitched yelps. Coyotes howl throughout the year, yet are highly vocal from late summer through early fall, and again during breeding season in winter. Listen for coyotes at dusk or after dark.

When to Watch:

Coyotes are most numerous at the end of summer and in the fall, when pups are almost fully grown. Watch an open field in late summer to see a coyote hunting for small mammals. Follow their tracks during the winter-you may catch a glimpse of a coyote in the distance as you track it.

The Best Places to Watch:

Click on the link below to get more information about each site.

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