Coyotes are an important connection in Nature because they play a critical role in keeping natural areas healthy. Coyotes are a keystone species, meaning that their presence or absence has a significant impact on the surrounding biological community. Keystone species like the coyote can have a regulatory effect on smaller predator populations, which allows prey of the smaller predator species to survive. For example, since small predators, especially fox, cats, opossum, and raccoon, consume eggs and small or young ground nesting birds, an increase in the smaller predators can greatly affect bird populations. Coyotes prey on these small predators, keeping the small predator population in check.
One study found that sage grouse benefit from the presence of coyotes, because coyotes reduce the number of nest predators; limit jackrabbit populations, which in turn limits the presence of eagles (which prey on sage grouse eggs and young); and reduce the number of competitors eating plants that sage grouse eat.
By exerting a top-down regulation of other species, coyotes maintain the balance in the food web below and around them. When coyotes are absent or even just greatly reduced in a natural area, the relationships between species below them in the web are altered, putting many small species at risk.
The attitude of those government organizations who “manage” public lands is that the coyote is a “nuisance species”. This opinion does not come from any environmentally sound research. Instead, the source of information that enables government approved coyote eradication programs is the agriculture industry because coyotes occasionally prey on a rancher’s livestock.
I find it interesting that endangered species are carefully monitored by wildlife “managers”, but that same concern is not offered to the all important keystone species such as the coyote.
Worth Your Extra Attention : USFWS Is Killing Coyotes
A twice-winning Pulitzer Prize journalist writes about the US Government’s killings of coyotes despite their contribution to the balance of Nature
Also take a look at Coyote Watch Canada
My name is Bill Graham. As a Marine Biologist who has worked in the US and Mexico for 30 years, I am a student of Nature, a teacher, a researcher, and a nature photographer. Through my work, I have acquired an ever growing passion for how everything in Nature is connected. Today, I travel extensively contemplating about, writing about, and photographing Nature’s connections. I also work with conservation projects in the USA and Mexico and mentor talented youth.