PACK BEHAVIOR IN URBAN COYOTES
In our study,
coyotes are strongly monogamous, with only the alpha
pair producing and raising pups.
However, subordinates may help raise the
So far, we have only seen bonds between alpha pairs
broken upon the death of one of the pair. A number
of pairs have maintained bonds for multiple years
Big Mama for example).
male and mate from
Our observations (during tracking, helicopter
flights, and trapping) have revealed that the
coyotes in our study also maintain territories as
Group size in protected habitats is typically five
to six adults in addition to pups born that year.
Territories have very little overlap, so the coyotes
obviously defend these areas from other groups. In
rural areas, especially where hunting and trapping
are common, the group may only consist of the alpha
pair and the pups.
Genetic analysis of our coyotes has revealed
that nearly all pack mates are close relatives,
except the alpha male and female are not closely
related to each other.
Members of the Busse pack, across the road from
Hunting & Travel:
Although coyotes live in
family groups, they usually travel and hunt alone or
in loose pairs. In this way they are different from
wolves, which leads to the impression that coyotes
do not form packs since they are usually seen alone.
In addition to resident groups, the urban population
also consists of solitary coyotes that have left
packs and are looking to join groups or create their
own territories. (See
Territories & Home Ranges to learn
Between one-third and one-half of the coyotes we
capture each year were solitary animals. These
solitary coyotes can be either males or females and
are usually young coyotes (six months to two years
old), but can also be older individuals who have
If a coyote is seen running across a field, it is
impossible to know if it is a solitary coyote or a
member of a pack from that sighting.
Solitary coyotes travel over large areas, up
to 60 square miles covering many different
These animals travel between, and through,
resident coyote territories, either looking for
packs to join, or for vacant areas to begin their