What to Expect During Coyote Pup Season
With the onset of spring comes many new and exciting developments for the wild world. Flowers bloom, birds return, offspring are born … Yet alongside new growth reemerges age-old anecdotes and misunderstandings about so many wild species. Saddled with the unfortunate brunt of the rumors is North America’s most persecuted species: the coyote.
Spring is coyote pup season; as a monoestrous species, coyotes have one breeding season per year that falls between January – March. Offspring (pups) will be born two short months later in April or May and are completely blind and deaf at birth. Born into the safety and warmth of a temporary den, coyote pups are doted upon by their parents and family members, their vulnerability accommodated by the near-constant attention of their pack.
In a coyote pack, only the breeding pair is permitted to reproduce. The other individuals assist with babysitting duties, hunting, and defending the territory. In order to adequately care for the year’s little ones, coyotes often have to move around throughout the day in search of food. Coyotes are opportunistic, which means they will consume what is easily available to them. Most often this is small mammals such as mice and squirrels, though they’ll also eat what is seasonally abundant, such as berries.
A common misconception about coyotes is that seeing them during the day is evidence that they’re sick or rabid. However, particularly with needy young pups in early spring and summer, coyotes simply have more mouths to feed and thus more foraging to do.
Another frequent behavior that people observe in coyotes is a behavior known as “escorting”. Escorting is when a coyote is non-aggressively following a person on a trail, most often seen during the summer months. While this might be unnerving, it is likely due to the fact that someone has unknowingly wandered a bit too close to a coyote den. Seeing us as potential predators to their vulnerable pups, adult coyotes often use their own presence as a distraction tactic. They are trying to guide us away. How should we respond? By calmly leaving the area and giving them ample space, as we should with any wild animal. The best thing we can do to protect wildlife is to give them the space to be wild.
It is important to remember that coyotes are simply wild animals with rich natural lives and deep social bonds to their pack-mates. They are not considered a danger to humans, even during pup season. Visit our page about eastern coyotes to learn more about their history and ecology, as well as appropriate coexistence techniques we can employ.