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Coyote Protection

Ranch Support.  We at the Ranch think that Coyotes are as symbolic to the region as are Joshua Trees.  While in some situations, coyotes may be a threat to people and animals, we wish to support and help preserve the coyote population by maintaining an open wildlife corridors, supporting other local efforts, and ranch programs to preserve open space and vegetation.  That said:  Wild Coyotes are dangerous so please use caution.  Think and See Saftey

Introducing the Coyote

The coyote is a member of the dog family and related to domesticated dog, the red and grey wolves found in North America, and 4 species of jackals found in Europe, Asia & Africa. 

In size and shape the coyote is like a medium-sized Collie dog, but its tail is round and bushy and is carried straight out below the level of its back. 

Coyotes found in low deserts and valleys weigh about 20 pounds, less than half of their mountain kin, who can weigh up to 50 pounds. Desert Coyotes are light gray or tan with a black tip on the tail.

Coyotes of high elevations have fur that is darker, thicker and longer; the under parts are nearly white, with some specimens having a white tip on the tail. In winter the coats of mountain coyotes become long and silky, and trappers hunt them for their fur.

Safety - Coyote Cautions and Control

Coyotes are not your average dog -- they are not to be messed with. They are smart, and they learn quickly.   At the Ranch, we do not encourage them to come near people:  Hence - feeding of these wild animals is strictly prohibited.  We also do not encourage them the come near structure where food might be available.  That means close garbage can lids tightly, do not leave pet food outside and do not leave small pets outside unaccompanied.  Our ducks and fish are generally safe. 

Coyotes love nothing better than cats and frequently take small dogs. If you are visiting the Ranch, please keep dog on a leash at all times.  Large dogs (35 lbs and up) in generally not at risk to a coyote attack, but we have seen even rotwieller get very trashed when a single coyote lures them away to be attacked by the pack. 

Coyote could have rabies.  If you are bitten, you will have to get a series of rabies shots, which are expensive and painful. This is not fun. 

Children and adults have been bitten by coyotes in California, Arizona and other states. While they are most danger is in urban areas where young coyotes have learned to steal and beg for food, those even in the National Park they can be dangerous.  The Coyotes we see in the area are not beggar, and we hope not a problem. Nonetheless - no feeding coyote on the property or you will be asked to leave - strictly enforced. 

Coyotes and Handouts

Most of the time, coyotes go out of their way to avoid humans, but they are discovering that humans are a good source for food. Resourceful and adaptable as coyotes are, they will take advantage of this when they can. In urban areas and in some National Parks the coyotes are changing their behavior.  The most serious problem is that the animals may become habituated to people. As they lose their fear of people, they will become bolder in approaching people and may put themselves in hazardous situations they would normally avoid. Coyotes, if fed regularly by people, will come to depend on people for their food. They won't starve if you stop feeding them, but they will be hungry and unafraid of people. They can get very aggressive in approaching other people. Some of the national parks now have coyotes that are begging for food.

Important References:

Trickster, Shape-Changer, keep me from danger.
Cunning magician, teach me your ways
Of magical fire, powers much higher.
Lead me to new life.  Brighten my days.

Wisdom, Folly

The Coyote teaches you how wisdom and folly
go hand-in-hand.
In the folly of others, we see our own foolishness
and we learn from their mistakes.

If a Coyote totem has appeared in your life,
be prepared for "Murphy's Law" to enter your life with a vengeance.
Your sense of humor will arise full force in keeping with the things happening around you.
Blind dates, things that suddenly don't work, all this is Coyote humor.
You need to learn to laugh at yourself and Life's irony.

Coyote energy is tied to simplicity and trust. 
It stimulates and renews innocence and reawakens a childlike wisdom in the world.
A Coyote's howl touches your soul, reminding us of our primal connections.

Coyote people are very adaptive to new situations
and have close-knit families, especially when children are involved.

Reference:   http://www.linsdomain.com/totems/pages/coyote.htm


Howling & other Coyote Noises

The coyote is one of the few wild animals whose vocalizations are commonly heard. At night coyotes both howl (a high quavering cry) and emit a series of short, high-pitched yips. Howls are used to keep in touch with other coyotes in the area. Sometimes, when it is first heard, the listener may experience a tingling fear of primitive danger, but to the seasoned outdoorsman, the howl of the coyote is truly a song of the West.  Howling - communication with others in the area. Also, an announcement that “I am here and this is my area. Other males are invited to stay away but females are welcome to follow the sound of my voice. Please answer and let me know where you are so we don't have any unwanted conflicts.”  Yelping - a celebration or criticism within a small group of coyotes. Often heard during play among pups or young animals.  Bark - The scientific name for coyotes means "Barking dog," Canis latrans. The bark is thought to be a threat display when a coyote is protecting a den or a kill.  Huffing - is usually used for calling pups without making a great deal of noise.


Other Facts

Tail. The coyote's tail is used in threat displays. It becomes bushy and is held horizontally when the Coyote displays aggression. Ears The coyote's hearing is very acute and is used for detecting prey and avoiding danger. Movement and position of the ears are used to communicate mood and rank. Nose
The coyote's sense of smell is highly developed and is used to detect prey and carrion. It is also used to detect the scent left by other coyotes as territorial markers. Feet The coyote has 5 digits on the forefeet, including the dewclaw (remnants of a 5th digit) and 4 digits on the hind feet. The coyote is digitigrade meaning it walks with only its toes touching the ground.
Coyote Vital Statics
Weight: 15-45 lbs.
Length with tail: 40-60"
Shoulder Height: 15-20"

Sexual Maturity: 1-2 years
Mating Season: Jan-March
Gestation Period: 58-65 days

No. of Young: 2-12, 6 avg.
Birth Interval: 1 year

Lifespan: 15 years in the wild

Typical diet: Small mammals, insects, reptiles, fruit & carrion
Curious Coyote Facts
Only 5-20% of coyote pups survive their first year.

The coyote can run at almost 40 mph and can get over a 8' fence.

Coyotes can breed with both domestic dogs and wolves. A dog-coyote mix is called a "coydog."

The coyote is more likely afraid of you than vice-versa.

Coyotes maintain their territory by marking it with urine.

 Coyote Comparisons

The Gray Wolf, (Canis lupus) once shared much of the same range as the Coyote and belongs to the same Genus -- Canis. But the wolf is usually larger and darker in appearance.

Coyotes also carry their tails quite differently than wolves. A Coyote's tail is normally held down, although not between the legs. A wolf carries its tail rather horizontally.

The nearly successful attempts to exterminate the Gray Wolf (the Coyote's primary predator) has been largely responsible for the Coyote's great expansion across the American continent.


Other Information on Coyotes

Coyote Behavior

One of the most adaptable animals in the world, the coyote can change its breeding habits, diet and social dynamics to survive in a wide variety of habitats.

Alone, in pairs or in packs, coyotes maintain their territories by marking them with urine. They also use calls to defend this territory, as well as for strengthening social bonds and general communication. Coyotes can easily leap an 8 foot fence or wall. They have been spotted climbing over a 14 foot cyclone fence.

Although the coyote usually digs its own den, it will sometimes enlarge an old badger hole or perhaps fix up a natural hole in a rocky ledge to suit its own needs. Dens are usually hidden from view, but they are fairly easy to locate because of the trails that lead away from the den. The coyote uses the den to birth its young and to sleep. The coyote does not hibernate.

Coyotes have a good sense of smell, vision and hearing which, coupled with evasiveness, enables them to survive both in the wild and occasionally in the suburban areas of large cities. They are common in most rural areas, but because of their secretive nature, few are seen. Efforts to control or exterminate the Coyote by predator control agents seem to have produced an animal that is extremely alert and wary and well able to maintain itself.


Coyotes inhabit all life zones of the Desert Southwest from low valley floors to the crest of the highest mountains, but especially open plains, grasslands and high mesas. Its natural habitat is open grassland, but it will move to wherever food is available.

Some studies indicate that in the desert, valleys and low foothills, Coyotes occupy a range of no more than 10 or 12 square miles. In mountainous areas they probably have both a summer and winter range, as heavy snows drive them to lower elevations.

Food & Hunting

A coyote travels over its range and hunts both day and night, running swiftly and catching prey easily. It has a varied diet and seems able to exist on whatever the area offers in the way of food. Coyotes eat meat and fish, either fresh or spoiled, and at times eat fruit and vegetable matter and have even been known to raid melon patches.

Although the coyote has been observed killing sheep, poultry and other livestock, it does not subsist on domestic animals. Food habit studies reveal that its principle diet is composed of mice, rabbits, ground squirrels, other small rodents, insects, even reptiles, and fruits and berries of wild plants.

The coyote is an opportunistic predator that uses a variety of hunting techniques to catch small mammals likes rabbits and squirrels, which comprise the bulk of its diet. Although it hunts alone to catch small prey, it may join with others in hunting larger mammals like young deer or a pony.

The coyote often tracks its prey using its excellent sense of smell, then stalks it for 20-30 minutes before pouncing. It may also take advantage of its stamina to chase its prey over long distances, and then strike when the quarry is exhausted.

In the dry season they may try to dig for water or find a cattle tank to have a drink. They also derive moisture from their diet. Everything they eat has some moisture in it. There are also the Coyote Melons which grow in the desert. To humans, they taste terrible but they provide moisture and coyotes and javelina are about the only animals that eat them.

Urban coyotes do take advantage of swimming pools, dog water dishes, ponds and water hazards at golf courses and other water bearing human artifacts as a source of moisture. However, the majority of coyotes never see people.


At the beginning of the mating season in January, several lone male coyotes may gather around a female to court her, but she will form a relationship with only one of them. The male and female desert coyote may travel together before mating in January or February.

The female bears one litter of 3 to 9 puppies a year, usually in April or May when food is abundant. The gestation period is from 63 to 65 days.

The pups are born blind in a natal den, but their eyes open after about 14 days and they emerge from the den a few days later. They suckle for 5 to 7 weeks, and start eating semi-solid food after 3 weeks. While the male helps support the family with regurgitated food, the mother does not allow him to come all the way into the den.

The pups live and play in the den until they are 6 to 10 weeks old, when the mother starts taking them out hunting in a group. The family gradually disbands, and by fall the pups are usually hunting alone. Within a year, they go their own way, staking out their own territory, marked with the scent of their urine.


Coyotes have long been one of the most controversial of all non-game animals. Agricultural interests have urged its control by whatever means necessary so that actual and potential livestock losses may be eliminated. Since 1891, when the first programs aimed at control were begun in California, nearly 500,000 coyotes have been reported destroyed at a cost of an estimated $30 million of the taxpayers' money.

Environmentalists firmly believe that the coyotes are necessary to preserve the balance of nature. Some sportsmen feel the coyote is responsible for the declines in game species. Biologists agree that individual animals preying on livestock and poultry should be destroyed but that the species as a whole is not necessarily harmful, because much of its diet is made up of destructive rodents. Biologists also agree that coyote populations have no lasting effects on other wildlife populations. So the controversy rages on.

Coyotes have recently been classified as non-game animals in California and may be taken throughout the year under the authority of a hunting license. Meanwhile, despite the constant hunting and intensive efforts to reduce the coyote population, on a quiet night the song of the "Little Wolf" may still be heard throughout the Desert Southwest.



Quail Springs Farm



Mile 3.0 miles up Park Blvd/Quail Springs Road
On the way to the main entrance to the park
Joshua Tree, CA 92252


Coyote Ducks Fish Greenhouses Water

1.8 miles from the

Joshua Tree National Park - Main Gate