Coyotes

They are the most vocal wild mammals in their native land of North America. Coyotes have increased their territory since the removal of wolves. They now range from northern Alaska to Panama. They live all over the western United States, and they reach to the northeast. The only area where coyotes do not live in the wild is the southeastern United States. They have even become urban dwellers in cities of New England and California.

Biologists have studied the many sounds that make up the “coyote language.” The scientific name for coyotes, Canis latrans, means barking dog. They not only bark but they also howl, yelp, whine, growl and make a combination of those and other sounds. Their sounds create a language involving warning and distress sounds, greetings, and other contact association sounds. A coyote mother may vocalize a “woof” to warn the pups to take cover. A “yelp” can signal submission, and the dominant coyote may respond with a high-frequency “whine.” Coyotes use “yip howls” and low frequency “whines” as greetings. They will even sing a “greeting song” of “wow-oo-wow!” Perhaps the most recognized vocalization of the coyote is the “lone howl” of a coyote separated from his pack. The pack may respond with a “group howl.”

The cartoon character Wyle E. Coyote is always trying to catch the Road Runner, but he never succeeds. In real-life coyotes are more successful in capturing their prey. They are carnivorous with meat composing 90 percent of their diet. Coyotes can be pests when they attack livestock. However, they also help control the overpopulation of rodents and deer. They will even attack and eat rattlesnakes.

Coyotes are another example of the diverse design of animals in the delicate balance of God’s creation.
© Roland Earnst

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