South Dakota State Mammal
Coyote (common name)
Canis latrans (scientific name)
A member of the dog family, the coyote is a predator of the American Great Plains and West. It has a relatively large brain and exceptional senses of smell, sight, and hearing. It is a symbol of the "Old West" to many cattle ranchers, who enjoy listening to its yipping song at sunrise and sunset. It was adopted as the state animal of South Dakota in 1949. The coyote is a valuable furbearer, and even today its fur is used for making coats. Currently it is well known as the most abundant livestock predator, and rare attacks on humans have also been recorded.
ALSO KNOWN AS
Brush wolf, prairie wolf, little wolf, American jackal
The coyotes' skull is narrower and more elongated than the domestic dog. The adult has a grizzled buff gray coat with the outer ears, forelegs, and brownish or yellow feet. The throat and belly are light gray to white. A gray-black band, sometimes very faint, runs down the mid-back. A shoulder saddle of black-tipped hairs is typical. The tip of the tail is black. Mountain-dwelling coyotes tend to be dark furred while desert coyotes tend to be more yellowish in color. Females are 20 percent smaller than males.
10 to 14 years in the wild and up to 18 years in captivity.
Forests, plains, and deserts
Range: Widely distributed throughout all of the United States and all of southern and south-central Canada, south through Mexico into northern Central America. It ranges throughout South Dakota and is abundantly present along the Missouri River and its tributaries and in the Black Hills.
Conservation: Least concern.
The coyote is a nocturnal animal and primarily hunts in pairs. It reaches its full growth and sexual maturity in the first year. Once the female chooses a partner, the mated pair may remain temporarily monogamous for a number of years. Male and female coyotes start courting each other in January. The mother feeds with milk whereas the father supports the family on regurgitated food. The calls made by a coyote are high-pitched and variously described as howls, yips, yelps, and barks.
Squirrels, rabbits, birds, poultry, sheep, rodents, insects, carrion, pronghorn antelope, deer, mountain sheep, carrion, and human garbage.
Breeding interval: Annual
Birthing period: 60 to 63 days
Average litter size: 1 to 19 pups (average of 6)
Size at birth: 8.8 oz (250 g)
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Data Source: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Author: World Trade Press