Canis latrans - Say, 1823
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Canis latrans Say, 1823 (TSN 180599)
French Common Names: coyote
Spanish Common Names: Coyote
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.102680
Element Code: AMAJA01010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Mammals - Carnivores
Image 7566

© Larry Master

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Mammalia Carnivora Canidae Canis
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
Check this box to expand all report sections:
Concept Reference
Concept Reference: Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (editors). 1993. Mammal species of the world: a taxonomic and geographic reference. Second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. xviii + 1206 pp. Available online at:
Concept Reference Code: B93WIL01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Canis latrans
Taxonomic Comments: Recent genetic studies demonstrate that the Coyote, the eastern Gray Wolf (Canis lupus lycaon) and the Red Wolf (Canis rufus) represent a common North American canid lineage distinct from that of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus), which has a Eurasian origin (Wilson et al. 2000). The Red Wolf/eastern Gray Wolf apparently diverged from the Coyote during the Pleistocene (Wilson et al. 2000). Eastern Gray Wolf (that is, C. lupus lycaon) genes apparently are incorporated into the coyote gene pool in the northeastern U.S.; Red Wolf (C. rufus) genes are incorporated into the coyote gene pool in the southeastern U.S. due to extensive hybridization. Genetic transfer of coyote mitochondrial DNA into wolf populations has occurred through hybridization in a contiguous geographic region in Minnesota, Ontario, and Quebec; the frequency of coyote-type mtDNA in these wolf populations is greater than 50%; no coyotes sampled had a wolf-derived mtDNA genotype; probably hybridization is occurring between male wolves and female coyotes in regions where coyotes only recently have become abundant following conversion of forests to farmlands (Lehman et al. 1991).
Conservation Status

NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 04Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 15Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5 (05Sep1996)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (29Dec2011)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alabama (S5), Alaska (S5), Arizona (S5), Arkansas (S5), California (SNR), Colorado (S5), Connecticut (S5), Delaware (SU), Florida (SNR), Georgia (S4?), Idaho (S5), Illinois (S5), Indiana (S4), Iowa (S5), Kansas (S5), Kentucky (S5), Louisiana (S5), Maine (S5), Maryland (S4), Massachusetts (S5), Michigan (S5), Minnesota (SNR), Mississippi (S5), Missouri (S5), Montana (S5), Navajo Nation (S5), Nebraska (S5), Nevada (S5), New Hampshire (S5), New Jersey (S5), New Mexico (S5), New York (S5), North Carolina (S4), North Dakota (SNR), Ohio (SNR), Oklahoma (S5), Oregon (S5), Pennsylvania (S4), Rhode Island (SU), South Carolina (SNR), South Dakota (S5), Tennessee (S5), Texas (S5), Utah (S5), Vermont (S5), Virginia (S5), Washington (S5), West Virginia (S5), Wisconsin (S5), Wyoming (S5)
Canada Alberta (S5), British Columbia (S5), Labrador (S3?), Manitoba (S5), New Brunswick (S5), Newfoundland Island (S5), Northwest Territories (S4), Nova Scotia (S5), Ontario (S5), Prince Edward Island (S5), Quebec (S5), Saskatchewan (S5), Yukon Territory (S5)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: Originally ranged throughout western and central North America, perhaps with only widely scattered populations in the southeastern U.S. Range expanded into eastern U.S. with opening of forest and extermination of wolf. Range has also expanded north to northern Alaska and south to Costa Rica. Introduced in Florida and Georgia. (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 1993).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Global Range: Originally ranged throughout western and central North America, perhaps with only widely scattered populations in the southeastern U.S. Range expanded into eastern U.S. with opening of forest and extermination of wolf. Range has also expanded north to northern Alaska and south to Costa Rica. Introduced in Florida and Georgia. (Wozencraft, in Wilson and Reeder 1993).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2005; Sechrest, 2002

U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
DE Sussex (10005)
PA Dauphin (42043)*, Franklin (42055)*, Monroe (42089)*
WY Sublette (56035)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
02 Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead (02040104)+*, Chincoteague (02040303)+, Lower Susquehanna-Penns (02050301)+*, Lower Susquehanna-Swatara (02050305)+*
14 Upper Green (14040101)+, Big Sandy (14040104)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
Reproduction Comments: Mates in late winter. Gestation lasts 60-65 days. Litter size averages 4-7 in different areas. Young are born March-May. Both parents tend young. Family leaves den when young 8-10 weeks old. Young are on their own by late fall. Sexually mature in 1-2 years. Interbreeds freely with domestic dog.
Ecology Comments: Population density generally is around 0.2-1.0 per sq km, though seasonally higher densities have been recorded in Texas. (Knowlton 1972). Most of the population usually is less than 3 years old.

In the north, populations may increase when wolf population is low, decrease when wolf population increases.

In Texas, "interactions between social organization and food availability were implicated in regulation of [a]...lightly exploited high-density population" (Windberg 1995).

In the prairie pothole region, the presence of low numbers of coyotes may benefit ducks by excluding the more destructive red fox (NBS news release, 29 June 1994).

Non-Migrant: Y
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Mobility and Migration Comments: Adults travel an average of up to 20 km every day. In a pine-oak forest in Durango, Mexico, males (the more mobile sex) traveled an average of 16.5 km during a 24-hour period, more than the 8.1 km recorded in Texas, similar to distances traveled in forested area in Nebraska, and less than the 20.2 km in Nova Scotia (see Servin et al. 2003). Females in Durango averged 12.5 km per 24 hours. Distances varied during different parts of the breeding cycle.

Home ranges variously reported as 8-80 square kilometers (Bekoff 1977); 10-100 square kilometers (Hawthorne 1971); 5-7.2 square kilometers (stable packs in an area of large mammal abundance; Camenzind 1978).

Home range averaged 17-19 sq km for adults in a farm region in Vermont, where all members of individual family groups shared the same home range and core activity areas of adjacent social groups were mutually exclusive (Person and Hirth 1991). Home range may be larger in winter than in summer (Schwartz and Schwartz 1981, Parker and Maxwell 1989); range increases greatly after pups reared (Harrison and Gilbert 1985).

Palustrine Habitat(s): Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Desert, Forest - Conifer, Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Grassland/herbaceous, Old field, Savanna, Shrubland/chaparral, Suburban/orchard, Woodland - Conifer, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Special Habitat Factors: Burrowing in or using soil, Fallen log/debris
Habitat Comments: Found in a wide range of habitats in its extensive range, from open prairies of the west to the heavily forested regions of the Northeast. In cities in some areas.

Examples of some recent habitat studies: In northern Vermont, preferred hardwood forests in winter and spring, farmland in summer and fall (Person and Hirth 1991). In British Columbia, preferred dense spruce forest and/or areas where snowshoe hare was abundant (Murray et al. 1994).

Young are born in a den usually in a burrow (enlarged burrow of other mammal or dug by female), with the opening often oriented toward the south. Dens also may be above ground (e.g., at base of tree under low, overhanging branches; in hollow log or rock crevice), or under building. Commonly uses same den in subsequent years.

Adult Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Carnivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: An opportunistic feeder; mainly carrion (including prey killed by other carnivores), small vertebrates, and invertebrates. Occasionally feeds on vegetation.
Adult Phenology: Crepuscular, Nocturnal
Immature Phenology: Crepuscular, Nocturnal
Phenology Comments: Mainly crepuscular and nocturnal, though commonly observed during daylight hours in some areas.
Length: 132 centimeters
Weight: 18100 grams
Economic Attributes
Economic Comments: Hunted for sport and for pelt (which in Oklahoma in early 1980s yielded about $20 per pelt) (Caire et al. 1989). Regarded as a pest at certain times in some areas due to occasional predation on deer, poultry, or livestock; occurs especially during denning season.

Rarely has attacked humans in western North America (usually in situations where coyotes have become habituated to humans; Carbyn 1989).

Management Summary
Species Impacts: In Quebec, an expanding coyote population threatened a remnant caribou herd (Crete and Desrosiers 1995). In California, coyotes can have a significant impact on kit fox populations (Ralls and White 1995).
Management Requirements: In July 1985, the U.S. EPA registered Compound 1080 for use in Livestock Protection Collars (LPCs) for controlling coyote predation on sheep and goats; experimental data indicate that consuming carcasses of coyotes killed by LPCs poses little if any hazard to golden eagles or stiped skunks (Burns et al. 1991).

In western Texas, intensive coyote control resulted in a decline in rodent species richness and diversity (Henke and Bryant 1992).

Monitoring Requirements: Free-ranging coyotes have been captured for research purposes with steel leg-hold traps, aerial darting, aerial net-gunning, manual capture from helicopters, and manual capture from snowmobiles (see references in Gese and Andersen 1993). See Gese and Andersen (1993) for information on a relatively inexpensive capture method employing pursuit in all-terrain-vehicles of coyotes attracted to baits in short-grass prairie.
Population/Occurrence Delineation
Use Class: Not applicable
Subtype(s): Den
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a given location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in appropriate habitat where the species is presumed to be established and breeding.
Alternate Separation Procedure: Occurrences generally should be based on major occupied physiographic or ecogeographic units that are separated along areas of relatively low coyote density (e.g., major urban areas, very rugged alpine ridges, very wide bodies of water). These units may be based on available coyote sightings/records or on movements of radio-tagged individuals, or they may be based on the subjective determinations by biologists familiar with coyotes and their habitats. Where occupied habitat is exceptionally extensive and continuous, that habitat may be subdivided into multiple contiguous occurrences as long as that does not reduce the occurrence rank (i.e., do not split up an A occurrence into multiple occurrences that would be ranked less than A).
Separation Justification: Coyotes are highly mobile and readily disperse 80-160 km or more (Bekoff 1977) across many types of habitats; populations and metapopulations tend to encompass huge areas. Hence, meaningful coyote occurrences should represent large occupied landscape units, but these often will not be demographically isolated from other occurrences. Isolation would require huge separation distances that would yield impractically large occurrences.
Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 3.6 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on a conservative home range of 10 square kilometers (see Separation Justification).
Date: 28Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G. and S. Cannings
Population/Occurrence Viability
U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 15Oct2003
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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