Oklahoma Wildlife Control®, L.L.C.
In body form and size, the coyote (Canis latrans) resembles a small collie dog, with erect pointed ears, slender muzzle, and a bushy tail. Coyotes are predominantly brownish gray in color with a light gray to cream-colored belly. Color varies greatly, however, from nearly black to red or nearly white in some individuals and local populations. Most have dark or black guard hairs over their back and tail. In western states, typical adult males weigh from 25 to 45 pounds (11 to 16 kg) and females from 22 to 35 pounds (10 to 14 kg). In the East, many coyotes are larger than their western counterparts, with males averaging about 45 pounds (14 kg) and females about 30 pounds (13 kg).
Coyote-dog and coyote-wolf hybrids exist in some areas and may vary greatly from typical coyotes in size, color, and appearance. Also, coyotes in the New England states may differ in color from typical western coyotes. Many are black, and some are reddish. These coloration’s may partially be due to past hybridization with dogs and wolves. True wolves are also present in some areas of coyote range, particularly in Canada, Alaska, Montana, northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Relatively few wolves remain in the southern United States and Mexico.
Depredation & Damages
Coyotes are the most common and most serious predator of livestock in the United States. They prey on big game, livestock, rodents, wild birds, and poultry. This breed of canine, has no natural predator other than themselves. Coyotes normally kill livestock with a bite in the throat, but they infrequently pull the animal down by attacking the side, hindquarters, and udder. The rumen and intestines may be removed and dragged away from the carcass. On small lambs, the upper canine teeth may penetrate the top of the neck or the skull. Calf predation by coyotes is most common when calves are young. Calves that are attacked, but not killed, exhibit wounds in the flank, hindquarters, or front shoulders; often their tails are chewed off near the top. Deer carcasses are frequently completely dismembered and eaten. Drip irrigation system users report that coyotes chew holes in plastic pipe and disrupt irrigation. Coyotes damage watermelons by biting holes through the melons and eating the centers out; raccoons, on the other hand, make small holes in the melons and scoop the pulp out with their front paws. Coyotes will also damage other fruit crops.
Coyotes are susceptible to many of the same ailments as domestic dogs, and therefore can be carriers of the same diseases. Click here for a listing of canine infections.
Distemper – is one of the more common and serious diseases. Distemper is a contagious, incurable, often fatal, multisystemic viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. It is possible for humans to contract an asymptomatic (subclinical) CDV infection. Anyone who’s been immunized against measles (a related virus) is protected against CDV as well.
Mange – Another common coyote disease, Mange is caused by a small mite which burrows into the skin, causing an irritation. This disease is extremely contagious, affecting as much as 70% of the coyote population. Mange mites can infect humans, but the symptoms are usually mild, consisting of a rash near the infected area.
Heart worm – infection is a fairly common disease caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs and heart of coyotes. In rare instances humans have also contracted this serious and potentially fatal disease.
Rabies – is an acute, fatal encephalomyelitis caused by neurotropic viruses. It is almost always transmitted by an animal bite that inoculates the virus into wounds. Any coyote bite or scratch should receive prompt local treatment by thorough cleansing of the wound with copious amounts of soap and water; this local treatment will significantly reduce the risk of rabies. Anyone who may have been exposed to rabies should be advised to always contact local health authorities immediately for advice about post-exposure prophylaxis and should also contact their personal physician as soon as possible.