Coyotes have been present in West Virginia for decades, but recently their numbers have increased dramatically. Historically found sparsely throughout the state, they are now seen in far more cities, towns, and neighbourhoods due to human-related influences such as urbanization and an influx of deer populations offering easy prey sources.
With their sightly silhouettes and eerie howls, it’s no surprise that coyotes now make up a major part of the West Virginia wildlife population. For decades they have roamed the wild cattle and ridges of this mountain state, learning the land and adapting with time.
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Coyotes in West Virginia rely on various resources, such as water, food, and shelter in order to thrive. In West Virginia, they typically inhabit forests and woodlands near rivers or streams where they can find adequate sources of water and prey. They also create dens out of existing cavities in the ground to provide them with safe shelter from predators. Furthermore, due to the presence of humans in the area, coyotes have learned to take advantage of human-created features such as pastures, farms, and small towns that provide them with a variety of food choices not otherwise available.
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 West Virginia vary with tawny tan, white and sometimes brown shades that masquerade against the background of brush and grassland. Due to their unique coats, they are able to camouflage themselves exceedingly well making it difficult to detect the presence of anyone coyote in particular.
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.
While Coyotes may appear to be dominant animals, in West Virginia they deal with a lot of predators. Cougars and Wolves are both top predators who roam the same regions as coyotes in the state. At times, these predators even hunt together in order to take down their prey. Most of these predatorial activities take place during the night when coyotes are seeking food, making it almost impossible for them to hide. Hawks and Bobcats have also been known to hunt down Coyotes so long as they come across them during their search for food.
Coyotes are capable of reproducing throughout the year, with a peak in births during Springtime. Female coyotes typically give birth to their litters of offspring within a den. Litters usually consist of 5-6 pups and both parents are involved in raising and protecting them. As they grow, the family unit begins to search for food together but will separate from each other at around eight months old when the pups become independent.
Hunting Coyotes in West Virginia
The hunting of coyotes in West Virginia has long been a popular activity among hunters all across the United States. It is popular for many reasons, such as the thrill of chasing one of the most elusive animals in nature, and the amazing fur hides that can be used for pelt harvesting or even rugs or throws. Hunting is also seen as a beneficial practice for reducing populations of coyotes when their numbers grow too large in certain areas, so as to prevent them from wreaking havoc on farms and livestock.
Coyotes attacks in West Virginia
Residents of West Virginia have the unique experience of being the potential victims of coyote attacks in their own backyards. Coyotes are an increasingly common sight in this state, and reports of these predators attacking small pets or livestock are on the rise since they were first sighted in 2010.
While it’s becoming more common to see domestic dogs outside, coyotes are adapting quickly to urban areas and learning to live near humans. This increase in the confrontation between coyotes and people is prompting experts to remind citizens that although the animals may look beautiful and quintessentially American, they should not be approached or fed.
Do Coyotes live in West Virginia?
Coyotes are quite an adaptable species and can be found in a wide range of habitats. Though not historically indigenous to West Virginia, recent environmental changes have allowed coyotes to expand their range into the state. Coyotes are usually solitary hunters. They typically form territories of two to two hundred square miles in size and vocalize often to encourage others away from their boundaries.
In West Virginia, coyotes are primarily spotted in more rural areas, more so than urban or suburban locales. Despite these reputed sightings, however, there is a lack of solid evidence that shows whether coyotes have indeed established a permanent presence in the state or have merely been passing through while migrating southward along with climate change.
Can you shoot Coyotes in West Virginia?
Coyotes are rendered a nuisance animal in West Virginia, meaning that their population can be managed. To do this, individual coyotes may be hunted or trapped year-round while they are not classified as game animals. After taking the correct hunter safety course and obtaining the necessary licenses, one can hunt coyotes in West Virginia to help control their population. Persons hunting coyotes must always obey property law and check into regulations including shooting hours and season dates should they apply.
An animal enthusiast with an interest in zoology, studying the behavior and activities of animals in the wild habitat. I work on research projects related to species conservation and endangered species protection. I also leverage zoology to become an educator, educating others about the importance of protecting our natural environment and the beauty of animals in their natural habitats.