Growing Up Wild: Coyote Pups, Part II

Coyotes are by far the most sociable of our highlighted Nevadan neighbors, often forming hunting pairs (and sometimes packs), whereas the others tend to live a more solitary lifestyle. As we discussed in a previous post, coyote packs are made up of related individuals, which contributes to the success of both the group as well as the genes they all share.

Last time we left off as coyote pups were becoming little hunters in their own right, honing their skills on insects and rodents — and each other! The tight-knit coyote family structure begins to loosen as the pups become increasingly independent (starting at 6 months). They’ll begin to hunt and forage on their own after initially teaming up with their parents. By winter, when they’re about 9 months old and nearly adult-sized, some young will have left the family pack to join another or find a mate.

We don’t know exactly what affects a young coyote’s decision to stay or leave; it’s likely due to resource availability and habitat quality, or perhaps even an individual’s “personality”. Though the alpha female will be the only one that breeds each year, her daughters may gain parenting skills from a year spent helping mom out with new pups.

Learning from more experienced adults is a huge benefit for young’ins about to create a life of their own. We should follow the coyote’s example: listen to your elders!

Aaron Huelsman

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