The Coyote

A coyote stands amongst dried vegetation.
A coyote stands amongst dried vegetation.

NPS Photo

Scientific name: Canis Iatrans
Distribution/Habitat: Widely disbursed throughout all of North America and some of Central America. They have also adapted to living in urban environments.
Average Life Span: 10-14 years
Average Size: 2–3 feet tall with a 16–20 inch tail. Average weight is 25–35 pounds.
Diet: Small mammals such as rabbits and rodents. Coyotes also eat fish, frogs, insects, snakes, deer, and will even eat fruit and grass.
A coyote caught on camera near its den
A coyote caught on camera near its den

NPS Photo

The Opportunistic Predator

Coyotes are very social animals, they do not form packs but rather live in family groups. They will usually travel and hunt alone but sometimes join in loose pairs to take down prey. As a testament to the their adaptability, coyotes have been known to even hunt cooperatively with other species! They have been seen hunting with badgers as well as following the sounds of gathering crows to find food.
As indicated above, coyotes are not picky eaters. They will eat just about anything they find. Having such a wide ranged diet, it allows them to thrive almost anywhere.
A coyote pup peeks into a prairie dog burrow looking for food.
A coyote pup peeks into a prairie dog burrow looking for food.

NPS Image

Cute and cuddly or mean and scary?

Neither! Even though it’s true that coyotes are not something to be afraid of, they are still wild animals and should be treated as such. They can be dangerous and unpredictable, so remember to always give them respect by keeping a healthy distance and never approach a wild animal.
Coyote standing in a field
A coyote standing in a field in the distance.

NPS Dan Morford

How can you be sure it's a coyote?

Coyotes are common in the monument, though rarely seen. They can often be mistaken for another canine relative, but they have distinctive features if you look close enough (But not too close!). Their hair is a grizzled gray color and their bushy tail has a black tip. Typically, dogs run with their tails up, wolves run with their tails held straight behind them, while coyotes run with their tails down. Coyotes are more frequently heard than seen. They enjoy vocalizing at dusk, dawn, or during the night.
Remember that they are an important part of the ecosystem and maybe someday you’ll be lucky enough catch a glimpse of one of these amazing animals.

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Last updated: July 7, 2021