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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Brooks Fahy of PREDATOR DEFENSE shared this CBC News article with me which documents the first study that has shown Eastern Coyotes as capable killers of Moose............While we know that the Theberge biologist studies in Algonquin National Park in Eastern Canada showed that Eastern Wolves dined on Moose as a secondary dietary staple(Whitetail Deer, their primary source of protein), it was not thought that the Eastern Coyote(Coywolf as Massachusetts biologist Jon Way has named them) was not large enough to take down adult Moose.............Sure, a Coyote might get lucky and pluck a newborn Moose calf for dinner in the Spring, but to take down a 1000 pound adult Moose, NO WAY!...........Former Trent U. Grad student John Benson just published his accounting of 4 confirmed kills made by a two party Coyote pair over the 12 months spanning January 09-January 10...............As Benson observed, "It's unlikely that coyotes are making much of a dent in the moose population"............. "For one thing, all the adult moose that the coyotes killed were either inexperienced young adults between one and two years old or very old moose (more than 20 years old)"......... "In addition, a moose-tracking study taking place in the same area and at the same time as the coyote-tracking study showed that the moose population is actually growing"............There are no other studies that I could find showing that Western Coyoes(15-25 pounders on average) dine on Moose the way their Wolf/Coyote hybrids(Estern Coyote a.k.a. Coywolf) seem to be doing................Can any of you Blog Readers add anything to this unfolding development of the "canid soup" stpry that is unfolding in Eastern Canada and the USA?

Coyotes are moose killers, study finds

Study reports 4 confirmed cases of adult moose killed by coyotes and coyote-wolf hybrids
Coyotes may not have as fearsome a reputation as wolves, but a new study shows they are sometimes just as capable of hunting down and killing adult moose.
A study published Thursday in the Canadian Journal of Zoology documented four confirmed cases between January 2009 and January 2010 in which different packs of coyotes or coyote-wolf hybrids killed adult moose in an area west of Ontario’s Algonquin Park.
In one case, the moose — a 20-month old female that was likely more than 200 kilograms — was brought down by a pack of just two coyotes.
Eastern Coyote
 “That was impressive,” acknowledged John Benson, lead author of the report, who conducted the research while he was a graduate student at Trent University in Peterborough, Ont.
On the other hand, he said, it’s not really surprising, since it’s known that when packs of wolves attack a moose, most of the work is done by only one or two individuals.
Prior to the study, most scientists had assumed that coyotes don’t kill moose, said Benson, who was unable to find any documented cases of coyotes killing adult moose, although they had been previously known to kill calves..

Known for eating 'small' mammals

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources lists a coyote's diet as mainly rabbits, hares and deer in the winter and “small” mammals, wild berries, birds, amphibians and grasshoppers in the summer.
However, Benson, who is now a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, suspected coyotes around Algonquin Park might be capable of bringing down adult moose. In that area, the coyotes are large, the wolves are small and relatively rare (making up only seven per cent of the joint wolf-coyote population), and about 30 per cent of the joint wolf-coyote population are hybrids. In addition, some known coyote packs have hunting territories where there are lots of moose and very few deer.
Moose skeleton after Coyotes made the kill
 Benson had the chance to test his hypothesis during a project to research the habits of coyote-wolf hybrids. As part of the project, Benson and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources wildlife researcher Brent Patterson trapped coyotes and coyote-wolf hybrids from 10 different packs and placed GPS tracking collars on them — a task that wasn’t easy.
“They’re incredibly smart so you have to be incredibly careful,” Benson recalled. “We’d boil the traps to remove all the [human] scent. We never touch them with bare hands. You basically try to make the area look exactly the way it did when you found it. Still, sometimes they sort of sense that something is wrong and don’t get trapped.”
Once the animals had been equipped, if the GPS showed they spent more than three hours in a given area, it was a sign that they may have made a kill, and the researchers went to see what the kill was.

4 confirmed, 5 suspected cases

 In addition to the four confirmed wolf kills, there were another five cases where moose appeared to have been killed by coyotes or hybrids, but that couldn’t be confirmed. While three out of the four packs that made the confirmed kills contained at least one coyote-wolf hybrid, Benson said that wasn't enough evidence to say whether the hybrids are more likely than coyotes to kill moose.
This eastern coyote hybrid killed an adult moose in central Ontario with his mate (an eastern coyote) and their three pups. Three out of the four confirmed moose kills were by coyote packs that included at least one hybrid. (John Benson)
coyote-wolf hybrid
 It's unlikely that coyotes are making much of a dent in the moose population, the researchers reported. For one thing, all the adult moose that the coyotes killed were either inexperienced young adults between one and two years old or very old moose (more than 20 years old). In addition, a moose-tracking study taking place in the same area and at the same time as the coyote-tracking study showed that the moose population is actually growing.
Benson said he would be most interested to see whether the coyotes in Ontario are unusual or whether those in other parts of North America also kill moose.
One question raised by the findings is whether humans ought to fear coyotes the way we fear the “big, bad wolf.”
Benson points out that coyotes and wolves avoid humans whenever possible — one of the things that made trapping them very challenging.
“It’s good to have a healthy respect and fear, when you’re out in the woods, of any wild animals,” he said. “But it’s rare that a wolf or coyote attacks a human. So I don’t think our finding here really changes that a whole lot.”

The Nature of Coyotes

Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Coyote in the snow
Ontario is home to over 30,000 different species of animals and plants. This biodiversity provides us with many benefits, including healthier communities.

The Ministry of Natural Resources helps manage wildlife in Ontario and reduce conflict between people and species. We help people find ways to conserve nature and protect their family and property.

What is a Coyote?

The eastern coyote, found throughout much of southern Ontario and agricultural areas in the north, is a hybrid between the smaller western coyote and the eastern wolf.

Adult females weigh an average of 13 to 16 kilograms, while males' average weight varies between 16 and 18 kilograms. Coyotes are territorial animals, with their territory ranging from a few square kilometres where food is abundant to more than 100 square kilometres where food is very scarce.


Coyotes are opportunistic feeders and will consume a variety of foods, including meat, carrion (dead animals), fruit and vegetables. 
In winter, their diet consists mainly of rabbits, hares and deer when the snow is so deep that the deer's mobility is restricted. In spring, summer and fall, coyotes prey mainly on small mammals (fox, rodents, rabbits, mice and voles) and eat wild berries, birds, amphibians, grasshoppers and deer fawns.

Life Cycle

Coyotes often mate for life. Mated pairs usually breed in February, with pups born in April or May. Litters average five or six pups, but can range from two to 10. Both parents share pup-rearing duties, and begin to teach the pups hunting skills when the pups are eight to 10 weeks old.

Juveniles usually leave their parents' territory during their first autumn or winter to establish their own territory. What are sometimes referred to as "packs" of coyotes are generally an adult breeding pair and their pups from the most recent litter.

In some areas, coyotes can live eight to 12 years. In areas where they are hunted, or in populated areas like southern Ontario where vehicle collisions are common, the average life expectancy is less than five years.


Coyotes are most commonly associated with open, agricultural landscapes interspersed with woodlots and other brushy terrain. They are also found in green spaces and industrial areas within cities.


Since migrating to Ontario more than 100 years ago, coyotes have adapted well to both rural and urban environments. The eastern coyote is now an integral and permanent part of our diverse landscape.

Many people hear coyotes without ever seeing them because of their night time howls, barks and yips. Coyotes howl to broadcast occupancy of their territory and keep members of the family group aware of each other’s locations while hunting or travelling alone. Howling may also help co-ordinate some feeding activities.

Coyotes are usually wary of humans and avoid people whenever possible. They have adapted well to living near humans and development. In urban areas, they tend to be nocturnal, typically roaming at night looking for food and spending the daylight hours bedded in bushy or wooded areas.

It is unusual for coyotes to show no fear of humans. Coyotes displaying no fear of humans or exhibiting aggressive behaviours have likely been habituated to people through direct or indirect feeding. 

Size of Populations  

Coyote populations normally fluctuate in response to the abundance or scarcity of food. When food supplies are limited, they experience a higher mortality rate and lower reproduction rates.

Humans account for the majority of coyote deaths through hunting, trapping and motor-vehicle accidents.


Coyote diseases or parasites are rarely a risk to humans. 

Rabies is rare in coyotes in Ontario. Coyotes may actually help to reduce the incidence of rabies in Ontario since they often prey on foxes, a species more likely to carry the disease.

Mange is common in coyote populations in Ontario. Mange is caused by a parasitic mite that burrows into the outer layer of the skin, resulting in loss of fur, extreme irritation and can cause death.


In a small number of cases coyotes lose their fear of people and start preying on livestock. These problem coyotes require more serious measures. There are tools for farmers and rural landowners that will help them deal with coyote conflicts and predation.

 Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
Coywolf, Eastern coyote, Canis
latrans x Canis lupus lycaon 
In Canada, coywolves (which also
 go by the name eastern coyotes)
 are flourishing in southern Ontario,
 Quebec and throughout the Maritime
 provinces. They can also be found all
 along the northeastern seaboard of
the U.S.A. from New York State to
New Hampshire and even into
Rhode Island. Recent DNA analysis
 have also shown that this hybrid is
 starting to move as far as Pennsylvania
. Their terrorities range from 20 - 40 square
 kilometres in the countryside and can be
 as small as 5-8 square kilometres in cities.
Coywolves prefer edge habitats in
agricultural, suburban and urban areas.
 Edge habitats provide cover and in general
 a greater amount of food resources. For
part of the year, coywolves live in dens. In
the winter, they use their dens for refuge
 from the elements; summer dens are
 used for 6-8 weeks of the year when
 the pups are born. Females retreat to
 the dens a few days before giving birth
 and the young remain in or near the den
 for the first 6- 8 weeks of their life.
 Coywolves, like wolves, keep many
 den sites at any one time. At the least
 sign of disturbance they are often quick
 to switch from one to the other. Coywolves
 are very protective of their young and
 move them from one den site to another
 by carrying them in their teeth like cats
 do with kittens. In cities, coywolves favour
 den sites in natural green space like parks,
ravines and stream banks and even unused
 portions of backyards.
Eastern coyotes or coywolves, like
 western coyotes, are much more
 comfortable living in closer proximity
 to people than wolves are. Still, most
 people, whether in the city or the country,
 rarely see them. These phantom-like
creatures have mastered the art of
going about their business under the
radar. We are more likely to hear them
nearby. In the country the call and
answer of coywolves keeping a check
 on each other is a common sound and
 in the city fire engine sirens and train
whistles are known to set them howling
in response. Despite being able to live
 near us, coywolves are wary and avoid
 people when ever possible. In urban
areas, they tend to be nocturnal.
Coywolves live in small family groups
 consisting of a mated pair and their young.
Coywolves generally weigh anywhere
 from 14-18 kilograms and are 120 - 150
 centimetres long. Male coywolves tend
 to be larger than females. Their thick coats,
 long legs and bushy tails often give them
a wolf-like appearance that causes them
to be mistaken for these much larger animals.
Coywolves are omnivores. They're
 opportunistic hunters who will feed on
 everything from berries and seeds to
 small mammals like mice, voles,
squirrels and rabbits. Their large jaw
 structure allows them to hunt larger
 mammals like deer, which in spring,
 is a staple of their diet. In the city,
they will feed on garbage, compost
, fruit or vegtable gardens - and in
 some cases - small outdoor pets.

Coywolf populations are thriving in urban
 and suburban areas. Their range expansion
 has shown them pushing as far south as
into Pennsylvania. 

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