Canidae (dog family) in the Order Carnivora

The upperparts are light gray or dull yellow, with outer hairs tipped with black. The backs of the ears are reddish and the muzzle yellowish. The top of the tail is colored like the animal’s back, usually with a black tip and whitish below near the base, yellowish toward the tip. The front legs are whitish; the outer sides of the hind legs are reddish, with the inner sides whitish. The throat and belly are white to pale gray. The iris of the eye is tawny. The sexes look very much alike.

Total length: 39–54 inches; tail length: 10–16 inches; weight: 18–30 pounds.
Habitat and conservation: 
Coyotes live in semiopen, brushy country, along timber edges, and in open farmlands, occupying territories ranging from about 9 to nearly 30 square miles. Because certain coyotes develop a habit of damaging livestock and poultry, effective control focuses on these particular troublemakers. For nuisance control methods, contact the MDC. Additionally, coyotes have been harvested for furs, and hunters and trappers may pursue them during furbearer season.
Rabbits and mice make up almost two-thirds of the coyote diet, with other animal foods and plants (such as persimmons) making up the rest. Coyotes eat carrion as well as prey they kill themselves. While 10 to 20 percent of the diet may represent a loss to humans (livestock and poultry), the rest is neutral or beneficial.
Distribution in Missouri: 
Increasing throughout the state; most abundant in grassland habitat in northern and western Missouri.
Common and generally increasing throughout the state.
Life cycle: 
Coyotes are nocturnal but are also seen in daylight. Coyotes live singly, in male-female pairs or in family groups. They use complex expressions and postures to communicate. They mate in early spring; litters of usually 5 to 7 pups are typically born in late April or May. Both parents care for the young, which remain with the family as they learn to hunt and behave as adults. Coyotes can breed with domestic dogs; their offspring may resemble one or both of the parents.
Human connections: 
Coyotes control rodent pests. Coyote pelts, used for trimming coats and scarves, are durable and attractive and have been increasing in value. Coyotes are often unjustly blamed for livestock losses caused by free-running dogs.
Ecosystem connections: 
Coyotes feed on smaller animals and thus keep their populations in check; they also kill old, injured, sick animals unfit to survive. As scavengers, they eat carrion and therefore help clean the woods and fields.