Eastern Coyotes

Coyote pups at Fort Hill, 7 June 2022.

Yesterday, walking at Fort Hill with Richie, we stumbled upon a group of five or six Eastern Coyote pups. I was too slow to get video of the whole group, and a couple ran into the daisies and grass before I got my act together. They were super cute, but we turned around suspecting that parental units were nearby. No need for us to ruin their frolicking fun.

Eastern Coyotes mate in mid-January— early March, and their gestation period is a little more two months. This litter of pups was probably a few weeks old. 

There’s a lot of hysteria about coyotes out here, but I’m firmly on Team Coyote. In an ecosystem with as many deer, turkeys, rabbits and weasels as we have, coyotes provide balance. They’re opportunistic feeders more than pure predators (eating mice to moose — as well my grapes and blueberries), and they’re an important part of our ecological mix. The problem is encroachment on their territory — including the idea that they need our help securing food. Unfortunately, too many Cape Codders feed them, either intentionally or through sloppy trash habits. Habituating canids into thinking humans are a source of food places responsibility for any inter-species conflict with us — and too often results in NPS staff having to euthanize them. We’ve chosen to live or recreate within their habitat. I know there are old-timers here who will say that Eastern Coyotes are newcomers, and I take their point. From their point of view there were no coyotes decades ago, but there wasn’t much of a functioning ecosystem either. If we want en environment that works, we have to adapt to the recovering ecosystem. And the Eastern Coyote, a hybrid of western coyote (66%), western wolf (11%), eastern wolf (12%), and domestic dog (10%), is rehabituating terrain once held by wolves — and doing their work in the food chain.

I understand that coyotes are a threat to domesticated animals. Dog are perceived as territorial threat and cats make relatively easy prey. If we’re keeping animals, we need to attend to their security. And we need to remember that coyotes are doing the same thing as domestic cats do at your neighbor’s bird feeder. It’s instinct and survival. I’d say that you should move to a city or suburb if you want to live in a predator-free environment, but coyotes live in those places, too.

By the way, I hate the informal term, ‘coywolf.’ Yes, they’re a hybrid and contain wolf DNA, but they’re 10% domesticated dog, too. So give up the fear mongering that ‘wolf’ implies. They’re Eastern Coyotes.

Field Guide: Walking & Painting on Cape Cod 
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