The DMA urban coyote study is a multidimensional study aimed at reducing urban coyote conflict with humans and pets. The comprehensive study examines attitudes and beliefs about coyote conflict from both the manager and citizen perspective and partners remote monitoring (GPS, VHF and wildlife camera) technology with citizen scientist observations to monitor the ecology and behavior of coyotes and the effectiveness of different hazing (aversive conditioning) techniques.
Partners in this comprehensive study include the city of Aurora Open Space and Natural Resources Division, USDA National Wildlife Resource Center, Colorado State University, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Adams County Open Space, Jefferson County, city of Broomfield and city of Lakewood.
Coyote (Canis latrans)
The genus Canis contains domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes and jackals. The Latin name Canis latrans roughly translates to “barking dog”.
Look for pointed ears, a slender muzzle and a droopy (tip held lower than the level of the back), bushy tail. Coloration varies, but is often grayish tan or brown with reddish patches behind the ears and a black tip on the tail. For a more detailed comparison of ID features, please see our field reference sheet.
Breeding and Denning Behavior
An urban coyote family group or pack consists of the breeding alpha pair and possibly one or more subordinates, which are usually young from previous years. Subordinates may help raise young, but they do not breed. According to a new urban Chicago coyote study, urban coyotes never stray from their mates, and will stay with each other until one mate dies (Gehrt, 2012).
Coyotes only voluntarily use dens during breeding and pupping season. Dens sites vary greatly. Holes may be excavated in an open field, under a fallen tree or stump, or under human-made objects such as culverts, decks, or concrete waste piles.
Coyotes typically mate in February or March. After a 62 – 65 day gestation period, females start looking for and occupying den sites (April or May).
Vocalizations: The most common coyote vocalization reported in urban environments is the group yip-howl. Usually initiated by the alpha male or female, the group yip-howl is a noisy and chaotic combination of howls, yips and barks performed by the entire family group or pack. Contrary to urban myth, the group yip-howl is not always associated with a kill. Group yip-howls can be triggered by something as simple as a passing siren or car horn. Less common vocalizations include barking, a low, quiet woof, or a nasally huff.
Urine and Feces: Coyotes use urine and feces (scat) to communicate dominance and territory to other coyotes and other species. It is not unusual to find coyote scat right in the middle of the trail, as this is one of the most prominent and scent rich places to leave a “calling card”.
Visual: If you want to know what a coyote is thinking, look at its ears and tail. As with domestic dogs, ear and tail position are important tools for communicating interest, fear, aggression, dominance or submission. Body position, mouth gape and raised hackles are other visual cues to note.