Monday, January 13, 2014

Wildlife Quiz - Eastern Coyote

The eastern coyote (Canis latrans "var.") exists as members of the canine family and ranges across the north and eastern United States and into sections of Canada. Eastern coyotes possess easily distinguishable characteristics including thick gray fur, pointy snouts and bushy black-tipped tails. Adaptable predators, eastern coyotes prospers in a diverse range of habitats, including forests, fields, swamps, and even the edging of urban areas.

The eastern coyote has an opportunistic and seasonally varied diet, gaining nourishment from a wide assortment of both plant and animal matter including rabbits, mice, garbage, fruit, berries and even insects. The eastern coyote is a formidable predator, equipped with powerful jaws, lightening speed and a nose capable of detecting blood several miles away.

Weighting between 30-50 pounds (approximately twice the size of their cousin, the western coyote), the eastern coyote is capable of easily killing large prey including adult deer. Genetic research has proven that the eastern coyote's large size and unique behavioral characteristics are directly tied to its interbreeding with wolves. In a recent survey, biologists sampled 100 Maine "coyotes", results showed that 22 had half or more grey wolf DNA & one was 89% grey wolf. Given that the largest coyote ever harvested in Maine was massive 65 pounds, this data is not all that surprising. 

The eastern coyote-mating season occurs in February and March. Females typically birth litters of between 4-8 pups born in late April or early May. Pups stay with parents for up to a year before venturing forth to find their own territory and mate. Coyotes tend to choose a singular mate for life, unless that mate is killed.

Wildlife Quiz Questions: 
1. What is the average weight of an adult eastern coyote?
 2. When do eastern coyotes mate?
3. How soon after birth can a pup eastern coyote leave its parents?
4. How much did the biggest eastern coyote harvested in Maine weigh?
5. What percentage of eastern coyotes in Maine have wolf DNA?
6. How many pups are born into a typical litter?
7. Do eastern coyotes mate for life?
8. When are eastern coyote pups typically born?

Wildlife Quiz Answers:
1. Eastern coyotes weigh an average of 30-50 pounds.
2. Eastern coyotes mating season occurs in February and March.
3. Eastern coyote pups will still stay with their parents for up to a year before heading out on their own.
4. The biggest eastern coyote harvested in Maine weighed 65 pounds.
5. Twenty-two percent of the eastern coyotes in Maine have wolf DNA.
6. Between 4-8 pups are born into a typical litter.
7. Yes, eastern coyotes typically mate for life.
8. Eastern coyote pups are typically born in April or early May.

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