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Coyotes in Iowa (Diet, Lifestyle, Habitat..)

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coyotes

Coyotes in Iowa have become a familiar site to many Iowans in recent years. Coyotes were historically absent from the state. They began appearing on the landscape as early as the mid-1900s. Since then, their numbers have been steadily increasing, and they are now spotted quite often. Coyotes are an integral part of Iowa’s natural environment, and although there has been some conflict between them and people living or working near their habitat.

coyotes in iowa

Habitat

Coyotes in Iowa typically live in woodlands and along the outer edges of plains. In the summer, they can be found in areas of low vegetation such as pastures or river bottoms with plenty of grass and plants for them to roam around for food. Additionally, coyotes are often seen near reservoirs and agricultural fields, making use of whatever resources are available in their environment. As far as shelter goes, coyotes usually seek out rocky hillsides or sheltered hiding spots as safe places away from potential predators. 

Diet

Coyotes generally consume a very varied diet. They feed on small mammals such as mice and voles, but also enjoy eating fruits like berries and apples, insects, reptiles and ground-dwelling birds. Plant matter such as grass or even corn may also be taken advantage of when the opportunity arises. Deer carrion can be an important food source for these opportunistic animals. The diet of coyotes largely depends on the season and availability of different food sources. As they are nocturnal animals, coyotes are known to scavenge pastures at night as well as hunt during both day and night depending on their needs in order to survive.

coyotes in snow

Colour

Coyotes are usually a solid grey or reddish-brown colour, although the variation among individual animals can be quite broad. The underside of coyotes tends to be lighter than the rest of the body and their feet may have black highlights. Coyotes will often display white markings as well around their muzzle, neck and chest area, with some having distinct white patches down the middle of their back. Many times these same light patches are tipped with brown – making each animal unique and giving it a distinctive look. 

Size, Lifespan and Weight 

The average size of these creatures is between four and six feet long, depending on their age and gender. These animals live anywhere from ten to thirteen years but some can reach nearly fourteen years in age. The average weight of an adult coyote is only 30 pounds but this varies again depending on the sex of the animal and which specific breed it belongs to. 

Predators

Various animals hunt coyotes and contribute to the control of their populations. Known predators of coyotes in Iowa include larger mammalian predators like bears, wolves, tigers, and lions—which are obviously not native to the state. Most commonly though, grey wolves and bobcats can be found preying on coyotes. Hawks and eagles may also take advantage of smaller or injured coyotes caught out in open grasslands. 

Reproduction

They reproduce once a year, between January and March. Males typically remain with their family group for the first year, and often even longer, while females will rarely leave once they hit maturity. The average litter size of coyotes is four to six pups, which are born blind, deaf and without fur for about three weeks. During this time period, coyotes rely on vocalizations such as yelping or barking to communicate and ward off predators. By six months old, the pups will begin learning hunting skills from their parents. 

coyotes in iowa city

Coyotes in Iowa City

Coyotes have made a name for themselves in Iowa City, with sightings and occasional news stories during the summer months. These wily canines have been calling Iowa City home for many years, an impressive feat given the heavily urbanized nature of the city. Though it’s important to be cautious and aware of their presence in public spaces, coyotes typically stay away from humans and keep most of their activity in natural areas or fields away from residential neighbourhoods.

Hunting Coyotes in Iowa

Hunting coyotes in Iowa can be a challenging, rewarding, and educational experience for hunters of all skill levels. The variety of terrain found throughout the state provides ample opportunities for stalking your prey across flatlands, brushy areas, and mountainous outcroppings. An understanding of predator behaviour and an ability to find animal tracks are essential for a successful hunt. Taking the time to learn about the territory you’re exploring, such as scouting locations beforehand or asking locals about their experiences, can give you an edge when trying to locate your quarry.

Trapping Coyotes in Iowa

In Iowa, trapping has become a popular and effective way of managing coyote populations. Trappers here are able to use the methods they’ve learned over generations to handle the animals humanely. To ensure sustainable management of wildlife, regulations have been put in place to help stewardship of the land. This provides a slow and steady decrease of animal populations in areas where necessary as well as taking advantage of fur harvest.

trapping coyotes in iowa

Shooting Coyotes in Iowa

In Iowa, there has been a push to control the coyote population. Recently, the Iowa DNR announced that landowners and staff managed by wildlife professionals have been allowed to shoot coyotes at night for the purposes of population control, which many views as being beneficial for local fauna and flora. Many consider this shift in policy a positive step forward in limiting the impact of coyotes on other wild animals and crops in Iowa.

References:

https://www.iowadnr.gov/About-DNR/DNR-News-Releases/ArticleID/189/6-Cool-Things-You-Should-Know-About-Coyotes

https://cpw.state.co.us/documents/wildlifespecies/livingwithwildlife/coyote-exclusions-deterrents-repellents.pdf

https://www.coyotesmarts.org/what-to-do/

Author Profile
Rahul M Suresh

Visiting the Zoo can be an exciting and educational experience for all involved. As a guide, I have the privilege of helping students and visitors alike to appreciate these animals in their natural habitat as well as introducing them to the various aspects of zoo life. I provide detailed information about the individual animals and their habitats, giving visitors an opportunity to understand each one more fully and appreciate them in a more intimate way.

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