Canis latrans
Image: Corel Photo CD of North American Wildlife

(Canis latrans)

Interesting facts:
From 1950 through 1969, people brought only 9 coyotes into a research facility in southern Illinois for identification. By 1980, hunters were taking an estimated 10,000 coyotes every year.

Coyotes in Illinois weigh 40 to 50 pounds, which is larger than coyotes found in the western states. Their coat varies in color. They have a blackish stripe down the ridge of the back that continues to the tip of the tail, light gray-brown on the sides, and creamy gray or yellow underside. There is reddish fur behind the ears and on the snout. The coyote molts (sheds) its winter fur every summer.

Coyotes make a yapping noise followed by a howl at certain times of the year.

Habitat and behavior:
Coyotes live in all parts of Illinois, but they avoid urban areas. They prefer brushy areas at the edges of woods. They also live in the wooded bluffs of the Mississippi River, the hills of southern Illinois, strip-mined lands, and prairies.

They dig burrows or dens. Litters of four to nine young are born in April. The male brings food to the nursing female and pups.

Coyotes eat cottontail rabbits, pigs, poultry, mice raccoons, and occasionally deer.

Distribution and status:
The coyote population of Illinois has increased since 1980. There are an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 coyotes in the state.