Male Seeking Female: Looking for Ms. WillingNAble

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Conservation Biologist Christine Schadler

Male Seeking Female:  Looking for Ms. WillingNAble

Single male unmated coyote will travel for companionship.  Medium build, thick gray coat, athletic and proven hunter.  Hopeless romantic and alpha wannabe seeks female as an equal.  A real SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy) for the right type.

Female Seeking Male:  Can’t wait too long for you

Lonely 2-year-old female, good hunter, tawny and fit seeks committed soul mate.  Enjoy quiet woodland walks, snuggling and ear licking.  My eggs and I need you NOW.

Welcome to Coyote Mating Season, 2016.  As winter ramps up, coyotes get down to the serious business of finding a mate.  Unlike humans and our domestic male dogs, both free-wheeling breeders, male coyotes can only breed between January and March.  The rest of the year they lack both desire and sperm.Current range of the coyote, Canis latrans.

Unlike humans, female coyotes enjoy a brief and enviable 3-6 day heat season a year between January and March.  So in order for a successful breeding to occur, a male must find a female during her heat.

Because of the female coyote’s very brief heat season, the likelihood of a male locating a female at just the right time is remote.   As a result, two-thirds of adult females never breed.  This is called Population Control, a concept rare among humans, but critical among coyotes and other predators.

In order to breed, an unmated coyote must leave its home territory and thread its way between or through other packs’ territories to find a mate. Most of the time, they do not succeed.

It’s a rough world out there for a coyote in unfamiliar territory.  A dispersing coyote lacks knowledge of local food sources, roads, traffic and development in unfamiliar country.

To add to the challenges and dangers, the local coyotes defend their territories, so if a disperser is discovered by a pack member, he will be chased out or possibly killed.  Additionally, most states allow year-around coyote hunting.  Thus, most dispersers die without ever having mated.

There is a perception that if we don’t “manage” coyotes, they will overrun the country and destroy the deer herd.  Thus, state agencies allow coyote hunting every day, all year long and at night during their breeding season.  Most states in the northeast “manage” coyotes this way as do 42 of 49 states nationwide.

Coyotes reproduce rapidly in response.  Responsive reproduction results in coyotes breeding at a younger age and producing larger litters. This ability enabled coyotes to spread rapidly from their historic range west of the Mississippi to every state in the nation, Canada, Mexico and Central America. (see map above)

A pack of coyotes occupying a given territory will vary in numbers from a high in spring when the pups are born to a natural low by late fall.

Here in the northeast, our coyotes defend their territory, an area offering enough food, den sites, water and cover to support a limited number of coyotes.  Thus, if the pack numbers remain constant, (varying up and down each year due to natural mortality) the territory supports only that limited number of animals.

We know that if left alone, coyote populations stabilize naturally.   This is true of all predators.  The most difficult challenge is to convince us — another predator — to live and let live and regard the killing of other predators as unnecessary, unsustainable and given the facts vs. myth, illogical.