Coyote range expansion

Where did coyotes (Canis latrans) come from and where are they headed? Research has shown that coyotes originated right here in the United States! Historically, coyotes occupied roughly two thirds of western North America, extending north into Canada and as far south as Guatemala in Central America. Coyotes evolved alongside America’s native people. They are a part of our heritage!

In the early 1900’s, however, this all began to change! The wild canine’s range began to expand outwards in all directions. This expansion was likely a result of the drastic changes to the landscape. Humans began to significantly alter the landscape, converting it for agricultural use, which suggests that coyotes are highly adaptable to living in a human-dominated landscape and possibly even benefit from our presence.

Today, coyotes have been spotted as far north as Alaska, and have even successfully extended their range all the way to the east coast. In 2010, coyotes were documented to have crossed the Panama Canal. Will they be able to continue their expansion into the Amazon or will the undisturbed forest be a barrier to their expansion? Only time will tell!

Denise Peterson

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