The eastern coyote is found throughout eastern North America. It is not native to the island of Newfoundland. It was first sighted in 1985 off the Port au Port Peninsula, and the first specimen (road killed) was confirmed in 1986 in the Hughes Brook area.
What is a coyote?
The eastern coyote (Canis latrans thammos) is a carnivore, and a member of the candid family (which also includes wolves, foxes and domestic dogs). The eastern coyote is larger than its western cousins (Canis latrans latrans). Coyotes prey on a variety of species, including small and medium-sized mammals (mice, voles, hare), and occasionally larger prey. They also commonly scavenge on carrion. They do not generally form large packs, but family packs are very social. Their name means “barking dog”, which is in reference to their nighttime communication of barks, yelps, and howls. Coyotes are very adaptable and intelligent animals.
How can I identify the coyote?
Coyotes are about the size of a collie. An adult male weights approximately 25 pounds and measures 120 cm in length. Coyotes are usually a buff grizzled grey coloured with white throat and belly and black-tipped guard hairs. The coyote sheds in June-July and thus appears much more slender in the summer than in winter. Coyotes are nocturnal and can be quite shy. Thus it is more likely to see coyote sign (track, scat, kill/scavenge sites) than the actual animal. The scat can come in many forms depending on scat age and contents. It can be easily mistaken for domestic dog, or fox scat. Coyote tracks are similar to a domestic dog, but can be distinguished by their pointy shape, while dog tracks are more circular. Coyote tracks usually show claw prints. The hind print is smaller than the front print. The larger front foot has a much larger pad than the rear foot. When travelling, coyote tracks are more linear than dogs or foxes which tend to wander more.
What do I do if I see a coyote or coyote sign?
Please report it! If you can take close-up pictures of tracks, scat, and note the location (either with a GPS, a note on a topo map, or by flagging the location) that would be helpful. Please log your sighting on this website. We are trying to learn as much as we can about this species, including a better understanding of the role it plays in the ecosystem.
Tracking help: http://www.bear-tracker.com/
Banfield AWF. 1974. The Mammals of Canada. University of Toronto Press, Toronto ON.
McGrath D. 2004. The Newfoundland Coyote. DRC Publishing, St. John’s NL.
carnivore: An animal that eats meat, especially a member of the order Carnivora (e.g. tigers, wolves). Carnivores are specialized by having strong powerful jaws and well-developed canine teeth. They may be predators or carrion eaters.
carrion: The decaying flesh of a dead animal that is used as food by animals that scavenge
scavenge: To feed on carrion or refuse.
*Source: Oxford Dictionary of Biology