Coyotes (Canis latrans) are a species of canine found throughout North and Central America, Mexico, Panama and Canada. Coyotes tend to travel in large groups, knows as packs, bands or routs, though they primarily hunt in pairs. Coyotes have adapted to living and thriving in urban areas, where the presence of humans and their activities drove them to more nocturnal behaviour, though they are still sometimes observed during daylight hours. Coyotes will sometimes mate with domestic dogs and the resulting hybrids, called coydogs, are cosidered a more serious thread to livestock than pureblood animals.
Most adults weigh between 22 to 25 pounds on average, with males being larger than females. In the hotter drier regions, coyotes are tan-brown in colour with streaks of gray. In the more mountainous or humid areas, their coats are darker with less brown. In the winter their coats become quite thick, especially in the colder areas. They have large triangular ears on top of their heads and long, narrow muzzles. They have black noses, yellow eyes and long, bushy tails. One way to tell coyotes apart from dogs and wolves is the way it holds it's tail when it runs. Dogs run with their tails up, wolves with their tails straight out and coyotes with their tails down.
The Coyote is found throughout North America from eastern Alaska to New England and south through Mexico to Panama. It originally ranged primarily in the northwest corner of the US, but is has adapted readily to the changes caused by human occupation and, over the past 2 centuries, have been steadily extending its range. Sightings now commonly occur in the majority of the US and Canada.
Method of Kill
Coyotes are tenacious and opportunistic predators that can easily wreak havoc on your poultry farm. These nocturnal hunters will hunt for food whenever they are hungry or if the opportunity presents itself. A chicken buffet that is laid out for their easy access and convenience will attract not just a lone killer, but a pack of merciless coyotes. They kill chickens by going for the jugular area. After killing it they will drag a chicken away from the coop and eat it elsewhere. However, coyotes who are in dire need of food will not hesitate to stay and hunt, in some cases may even take your entire flock! Check for signs of struggle and coyote tracks around your coop to ensure that it is indeed coyotes that are harming your flock.
The easiest way to protect your birds against coyotes is by keeping them in a Coyote-proof coop and of course, to make your properly as least attractive to coyotes as possible. Coyotes are mostly attracted by dog food, garbage and sometimes bird feeding stations and any animal small enough to appear as prey.
If you have an existing problem there are a few ways to get rid of coyotes. Many farmers in the US make use of well trained livestock guardian dog to protect their livestock and drive away coyotes. If you are not allowed to shoot or kill a coyote you can scare them off by letting off a few rounds of shot. Another option is setting traps, but make sure that they are out of reach of your chickens, children and other pets. Another great way to deter coyotes is to install motion sensor cameras and electric fences around your property/chicken coops. You can also call your nearest Animal Control centre to assist and advice you.
Make sure you read your state's specific regulations before killing or relocating a coyote though.
For more discussions on coyotes and how to deal with and deter them see the Predators and Pests section of the forum.