There are so many wild animals in the Pacific Northwest, in part because we have so many types of ecosystems. Mountains, lakes, rivers, deserts, the Salish Sea, and the Pacific Ocean are all home to many animals. One such species living here is the coyote, a distant relative of the domestic dog and wolf and a wildly adaptive species in its own right. In some indigenous cultures in North America, the coyote is known as the trickster, as they’re highly adaptable. Their scientific name, canis latrans, means ‘barking dog’ in Latin, an applicable description if you’ve ever heard these animals.
Coyotes are one of the eight species in the Canis genus; other species in that genus include wolves and domestic dogs. sSome coyotes have been confused with a stray dog but it’s possible to see the difference between a domesticated dog like a German Shepherd and a coyote. Coyotes are relatively small, usually weighing 20-35 pounds and standing roughly 2 feet tall. Compared to the domesticated dog, coyotes also have shorter, bushier tails that carry low to the ground and their muzzles are longer and more narrow. Their coat colors vary, with shades like light sandy blonde, rust, tan, black, and brown.
Coyotes are a part of life here in the Pacific Northwest and the rest of North America, which means we have to learn to coexist with them whether we like it or not. These animals are resilient and adaptive and have been around humans for thousands of years. They’ve been spotted waiting for traffic to stop before crossing a street and casually walking around major cities, like New York, Seattle, and Washington DC. There’s even a decades-long comprehensive study on coyotes in the Chicago metro area, known as the Urban Coyote Research Program, and another project based out of Portland, OR.
Whether we like it or not, coyotes live among us in a variety of settings. These animals have been around for thousands of years and have thrived over the last few decades.