That coyotes will consider a wide variety of species as mates may be a reflection of their adaptability, also evident in their catholic tastes in food. Stephen DeStefano, a wildlife biologist with the United States Geological Survey's Massachusetts Cooperative Research Unit and author of "Coyote at the Kitchen Door" (Harvard University Press, 2010), explains that coyotes will feast on things as diverse as beetles, bird eggs, garbage, pocket gophers, raspberries, pigs, wild plums, porcupines, apples, flying squirrels and watermelons.

But while such broad tastes have mostly made villains of coyotes as they happily expand their diet to take in the family pet when they can get it, they have also, at least once, made them the hero. Dr. Stanley D. Gehrt, a wildlife ecologist at Ohio State University who has studied coyotes in the Chicago area for the past decade, found that coyotes have a taste for Canada goose eggs. Rather than just dining at a single nest, the coyotes will plunder multiple nests in a night, gathering what eggs they can't eat and burying them for later. The result has put a significant dent in what had been fast increasing numbers of geese, considerably noisier and messier urban creatures than the coyote.

Flexibility is also a hallmark of coyotes' hunting. Not only do coyotes hunt singly and in packs, they have even been observed hunting cooperatively with other species. In Wyoming, scientists have seen coyotes hunting with badgers, large burrowing creatures that enjoy a nice bit of ground squirrel. As badgers dig toward squirrels in their tunnels, coyotes wait above for the squirrels to pop up for a quick escape, or perhaps to be chased back down to be eaten by a badger. Teams may work together often for an hour or more, the coyote mock-chasing or otherwise playfully inviting the lethargic badger to activity when it pauses, and to good purpose. Coyotes hunting with badgers had to work less and ate more than solitary coyotes in the same area. These teams were so effective that researchers reported often seeing the same pairs working together again and again.

Despite such charming intelligence, the coyote has found itself almost universally despised, feared and hunted. Ranchers hate coyotes for killing millions of dollars in livestock each year. These thefts have been answered with many millions of tax dollars spent over the years on programs to kill coyotes through the deployment of cyanide, strychnine, baited sheep collars and guns of many kinds. It is a war that has been as unrelenting and intense as, some researchers say, it is useless.

"Killing coyotes is kind of like mowing the lawn," said Dr. Prugh. "It stimulates vigorous new growth."
Even in their new habitat of the great metropolises, with nary a sheep in sight, the coyote finds itself, at best, a nervously tolerated visitor. In recent years, urbanites have been simultaneously charmed and disturbed by coyotes strolling in Central Park, trotting into a Quiznos restaurant in downtown Chicago and taking a dash around a federal courthouse in Detroit. Such news is, more often than not, soon followed by the news that the coyote has been rounded up and removed. It doesn't seem to matter that coyotes are relatively harmless, as researchers point out, as any person or pet is much more likely to be injured or even killed by a domestic dog.

Neither does it seem to matter that the removal of a single showy coyote is unlikely to leave a city clear of these animals, or even give any sense of just how many coyotes a given city harbors. Dr. Gehrt said that when he began his research he would have guessed there were some 50 to 100 coyotes in the Chicago metropolitan area. After a decade of radio tracking and genetic analyses, he knows better. Dr. Gehrt said he conservatively estimates the number of these rarely seen creatures at more than 2,000.
The coyote is out there, and it is here to stay. For most people (as long as they are not very unlucky and they and their neighbors refrain from feeding coyotes — the No. 1 reason coyotes end up hurting someone), the coyote offers a bit of wildness to anyone willing to listen to the gift it has shared for millenniums — its unforgettable voice.

The moniker "barking dog" just doesn't cut it. The coyote has a bountiful lexicon that includes growls, huffs, woofs, whines, yelps, howls, "wow-oo-wow" sounds and more. Each serves its purpose in the coyote business of giving greetings or disseminating alarms.
But perhaps the sound that listeners know best, the one that makes us stop what we're doing and look up into the night sky, is that mad cacophony of mournful howls and maniacal yips. That, scientists say, is the coyote's territorial declaration, an effort to make a few coyotes sound like 10 or 100, to insist on their unassailable presence.

Dr. DeStefano writes in his book of the legends that coyotes are talking to us, that they can tell us things like where to find water, whether danger is approaching and whether today is the day that death will come, that the coyote has learned Comanche, Apache and many other languages, but not English.
But even we English speakers know what the coyote is telling us when we hear those calls, shrill and fierce as they bounce along canyons of rock or concrete or just down the cul-de-sac. The coyote is saying to everyone, fellow barking dogs or otherwise, "We are here