Good morning to all you Coyote Cam readers / watchers, the first of September has arrived. So what does that mean to the Coyote fan? We have talked in general terms about Coyotes spotted and encountered through out the country but not a lot about their family life so lets get down to basics. Back ground history for the following material was derived from the New Mexico Game and Fish, these fine folks work hard to ensure New Mexico’s wild life is properly managed. A lot more Coyotes are seen at this time of the year as the pups are now grown and capable of going about on their own. The Coyote family consists of an “Alpha Core” (Dad and Mom are monogamous most of the time) and pups that will hunt as a unit early on in that family’s cycle. Though more often then not at this time of the year, the youngsters are venturing further from the den developing their own capabilities. The pups are accepted back for a few more weeks but they will soon go out into the world on their own. Wolves hunt in packs dictated by a social order as opposed to the Coyote family hunting unit.
Breeding begins about mid – late January through February with gestation running about 60 plus days. Birth starts a little after St. Patrick’s Day or from mid March to late April of each year. The pups do not open their eyes for 10 days but will leave the den 2 – 3 weeks later. It is about this time that Mom may decide to move the pups to a new location as the youngsters get more active. Coyotes are known to have several dens available in their territories so Mom has several to choose from. The Coyote families eventually dissolve with the young males leaving prior to the arrival of Mom and Dad’s next liter. Of curious note here is that some of the original litter’s female pups will hang around and help Mom with her next litter. These “babysitters” are really helpful bringing food to Mom and helping to move their new brothers and sisters during the first few months to avoid den parasites and predators. The pups are typically weaned at 5-6 weeks after birth. The pups accept regurgitated food from the parents at this time but will soon begin their hunting training by accompanying Mom & Dad along with any of the older pups from the previous litter. As soon as the youngest are getting about on their own and able to keep up with Mom & Dad the other older siblings began to leave the Alpha Core. The mortality for young Coyotes is close to 50 percent, most pups will never see their first birthday!
Family units consist of 3 – 8 members and have relatively small territories of 2 – 3 square miles but may range out to 40 square miles depending on conditions. The Coyotes mark their territories with urine, fecal matter and anal-sac secretions. With their territories marked and ownership established the Coyote family lives a somewhat undisturbed life. The now mature adults from previous litters are establishing their new territories or arguing for ownership from the current owners. This time of the year is full of Coyotes, mature pups expanding their territories and looking to strengthen their viability. The new males are going crazy trying to figure out what this mating thing is all about and at the same time hunting enough food to sustain life and limb. From now through the next few months Coyotes will be more active then during the early summer months, especially the males.
Stay tuned – There is more to come on the Coyote Cam!