The Coyote’s Free Meal

Coyotes (Canis latrans) have a bad reputation for being nuisance animals and nefarious pet-eaters. But is this rap well earned? No! A study recently published by the Urban Coyote Research Project found that human garbage or pets comprised only 3.3 percent of coyote scat or, droppings. So, what do coyotes prefer to eat?

While coyotes hunt their prey, they also scavenge from other predators like mountain lions (Puma concolor), wolves (Canis lupus), and bears (Ursus americanus). Coyotes and other scavengers are an essential part of nature’s clean-up crew and often benefit from the hard work of others. In the San Francisco Bay Area, one coyote was recently documented while it was grabbing a quick meal from a leftover mountain lion kill.

So, going back to our earlier question, what are coyotes eating? Researchers found that their scat typically contained deer, rodents, fruit, and other foraged materials. Given their omnivorous diet, coyotes can eat a wide variety of food and generally steer clear of our pets!

Denise Peterson

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