Urban coyotes are 100 percent monogamous, according to a new study, which shows that once the coyotes find their mate, they stay with each other until they pass away.
Scientists with Ohio State University genetically sampled 236 coyotes in the Chicago area over six years and found no evidence that they animals ever had more than one mate, nor any evidence that one mate left another while the other was still living.
This was seen even though the urban coyotes exist in high population densities and have more than enough food to eat. These conditions often lead other dog family members, like some foxes, to stray from their normal monogamous practice. Study co-author Stan Gehrt, a wildlife ecologist with Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources, stated:
“I was surprised we didn’t find any cheating going on. Even with all the opportunities for the coyotes to philander, they really don’t. In contrast to studies of other presumably monogamous species that were later found to be cheating, such as arctic foxes and mountain bluebirds, we found incredible loyalty to partners in the study population.”
Sun News Network notes that, while alley cats may have a reputation for sleeping around, urban coyotes don’t see the need to stray from their mates. While no studies have been done on coyotes in the country, Gehrt believes that they are just as loyal as those in the city.
Gehrt’s research on urban coyotes appears in The Journal Of Mammalogy, and also helps to explain why coyotes are able to thrive in cities. Females produce large litters, but the female’s mate stays with her to help raise them. Gehrt adds that male coyotes spend as much time raising their young as females.
As for what happens when their mate dies, Gehrt stated:
“A very general pattern is that females tend to stay in the territory if they lose their mate, whereas males tend to leave if their mate dies — but we have exceptions to both. It is actually fascinating for us when one of them does die. I call it a coyote soap opera and it is never boring.”
Funding for the urban coyote study was provided by the Cook County Animal and Rabies Control, the Cook County Forest Preserve District, and also the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation.