The coyote (Canis latrans) has substantially expanded its geographical range throughout North America, while at the same time coyote populations have dramatically increased in many areas. As a highly adaptable and opportunistic animal, the coyote has increasingly become established in urban and suburban areas, where conflicts with people and pets have occurred with increasing frequency. HERE
Misconceptions and misinformation surround the debate over how to best manage urban coyotes.
Attitudes concerning coyote management is an ongoing problem. Inaccurate often misrepresented information, coupled with strongly-held positions on the part of some segments of the public, result in delays in management activities or inaction. Civic decision-makers and agency officials often find themselves caught in the cross-fire between citizens who demand action to reduce coyote threats to pets and children within their neighborhoods, and animal welfare or animal rights advocates who take it as their mission to oppose any lethal removal of coyotes.
Urban coyote issues have been on the rise across the U.S. An excellent letter on this subject has been written by Michel & Associates. This law firm has been retained by local Southern California residents to help explain the issues surrounding urban coyotes to government policy makers who have been misled by groups like Project Coyote and the Humane Society of the U.S. HERE
Our goal is to inform and educate by challenging some of the flaws and misconceptions perpetuated by animal rights advocacy groups with a focus on Project Coyote since this group has chosen to be on the forefront of the debate.
Certainly the coyote is native to the U.S. however, multiple studies indicate the modern coyote is not native to California. Several sources corroborate the coyotes original range being limited to the central plains area of the U.S. Interestingly, Project Coyote, The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and the Urban Coyote Research program in Cook County, Illinois make similar references to a coyote Historical Range Map which indicates the coyotes original Range being limited to that of the central plains area of the U.S.
That’s right! Project Coyote and the Humane Society of the United States acknowledge coyotes are not native to most of the U.S. Their blanket policy of advocating a predatory mammal with few natural predators and less natural controls to permeate every urban and suburban environment without fully understanding the consequences may put unnecessary strain on natural resources and may negatively effect other species.
They’re not the only ones that support this claim. The Nevada Department of Wildlfe and The California Department of Fish and Wildlife Trapping License Reference Guide makes the same reference to the coyotes historic range; coyotes were originally from the plains area of the U.S.
Coyotes have extended their range from Central America to the Arctic, including all of the United States (except Hawaii), Canada, and Mexico.
Yes, fossil records of coyotes (Canis Latrans) are found in tarpits throughout California. These are fossilized remnants of the Pleistocene coyote (Canis Latrans Orcutti). This sub species went extinct at the end of the Pleistocene epoch over 11,000 years ago. HERE
There are several offerings of observations of coyotes early in California’s history. However, Canid Biologist H T Gier cautions that early reports of coyote sightings prior to 1832 were most likely misidentified. “Coyotes were first recognized as a distinct species of canids by Say in 1832.[i] Consequently, all reports before then are vague and inseparable from comparably hazy reports of lobo, timber wolves and swift foxes.[ii]” So, until there are reliably dated fossil records of the modern sub species of coyotes found in California after the end of the Pleistocene Epoch, we cannot say with certainty the coyote has always resided in California.
Anecdotal information suggests coyotes have not expanded throughout the state of California until the last few decades. 3rd and 4th generation sheep ranchers in Sonoma and Marin counties did not start experiencing depredation by coyotes until the early 1980's.
There is no doubt the coyote is a highly adaptable species which have managed to expand their range to every state in the U.S. and as far south as Panama.
[i] Young, S.P. and Jackson, H.H.T. (1951) The Clever Coyote, The Stackpole Co., Harrisburg PA and The Wildlife Management Institute, Washington D.C.
[ii] The Wild Canids, Their Sytematics, Behavioral Ecology and Evolution. Ed M.W. Fox 1975