Prairie Wolves 101

Los Alamos


We are fast approaching early summer when the coyotes in our area will be having pups.  Their mating season runs from January to March and the pups seem to emerge from the den around the beginning of July.  I have spent several years noting their habits and behaviors and would like to share some of what I’ve learned.  I will concentrate on spring and summer as that is the time most people find them problematic.  During the mating season, they become more territorial which some erroneously call “aggressive.”  They become more interested in escorting people through their territories by following, trotting along side or staring you down.  People with dogs off lead certainly need to leash up and it’s not a bad idea to pick up small dogs.  It’s also appropriate to make noise (small air horns sold at Metzgers work well) and move along.  Once you are out of their territory, all is good.  This behavior reappears when people travel through a den area where the pups are carefully monitored.  Last summer a pair had 5 pups near the sidewalk by the Barranca round-about.  It seemed a terrible location but it’s what they chose.  The five pups emerged from the den and could be seen playing nearby.  Not having a dog, I was able to observe them from afar without worry.  The dog walkers had more trouble for the parents were highly protective of the pups.  From what I learned through several accounts, an adult coyote was shot and killed by our local police department.  The complaints seemed to warrant the killing.  At some point, the pups were relocated by one adult to a green space along the 18th fairway of the golf course.  Shortly after, they all disappeared.  The adult that was shot was protecting the litter.  People were upset and worried about the aggression and the police took care of it.  The balance and dynamics of the coyote family were very disrupted and I suspect the pups did not survive.

What I’m trying to do is change the dynamics for this season’s litters.  If you know coyotes are problematic in an area, assume they have pups.  Change your route.  They won’t be there forever, and often move the litters numerous times once they become mobile.  Keep your dogs leashed.  Haze coyotes with noise and throw rocks.  Dawn and dusk are times when they’re more active so be extra vigilant. It’s just a lot easier to avoid going through their domain.  Three national agencies offer a wealth of information on coyote behavior.  We can live in harmony with them with some amount of effort.  I sure appreciate their role in the food chain and I know they help control rodent populations. 

Project Coyote:

The Humane Society of the United States:

The Urban Coyote Initiative:

Thank you for reading this and considering our friend, the Prairie Wolf!

Terry DuBois