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#53848 - 04/16/01 09:46 AM coyote litter sizes
trappnman Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 54
Loc: Lake City, MN
Wiley E- the thread you recommended to me was interesting- but you know me- I take no ones word unless it is proven to me- until then, my theories are as valid as any other theories. I wish I could remember where I read the study (based on statistical predictions)on coyote populations. It was in the last 6 months- maybe in FFG. When I do come across it, I will let you know. Regarding the thread on litter size, Steve Allen has many theories based on studies that he has done or has access to. Some of what he says I agree with, some I don't. Some comments 1) Someone who's opinion I admire greatly, states "a canine is a canine is a canine". I read where a coyote can have up to 19 pups when ideal conditions are met- How can this not be true? I had one beagle bitch that regularly had litters of 11-13 pups, and coonhound often have litters in the mid to high teens. Therefore, I easily believed the occasional high of 19 pups for coyotes. 2) Mr. Allen states that he has never seen where coyote abundance is determined by feed availability. I might be accused of being simplistic, but I believe that the abundance of food has a direct bearing on carrying capacity. While habitat is also critical, you can't isolate one from the other. I know that ND does not have an unlimited food supply in mid winter- as the habitat decreases, so does the food supply, and therefore so does the available amount of coyotes- typical winter migration patterns are in response to the above. 3)Since I believe food sources are finite at certain times and determine carrying capacity, a smaller beginning population of breeding females means each female will be in better shape, and since in hounds the condition of the female is a large factor in the amount of pups she births successfully and raises, why wouldn't this be true for yotes? Larger litters birthed in good conditions (ie less competition for food/territory) means a larger number of pups raised to adulthood- less stress/contact means less disease. 4) Age group differences are interesting- but not as important in the overall picture as it might seem- after all, it is the end results that we are looking at- the number of pups that are carried over to fall- the peak adult population levels. If you really want to think about age differences- in hounds, based on %of field champions in each litter, it was shown that the first litter on most females was her best- the quality of the pups declined with each succeeding litter. Of course, a good female produced champions in each litter, just a smaller %. The true percentages might be even higher, given the common practice of breeding females to an unproven stud just "to see what they produce", and if those pups turn out well, to breed the bitch to a better stud. The conclusion was to breed your bitch to the absolute best you could the first time- it was the most important breeding she would ever have. Now, does this hold true in coyotes? After all, "a canine is a canine.."
If it is true, then the young females are producing the genetically superior pups-so maybe their survival rate is higher- now that's a can of worms... Now Mr. Allen, you obviously have a tremendous knowledge of coyote habits and statistics, and I applaud and enjoy your posts- but like I have learned on other forums- very little of this coyote business is uncontested fact- a lot of conjecture and a lot of educated guesses. I am not saying you are wrong, and for all I know you are right- just giving a different viewpoint trappnman

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Your American heritage- Fur Trapping, Hunting and Fishing

[This message has been edited by trappnman (edited 04-16-2001).]

[This message has been edited by trappnman (edited 04-16-2001).]

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#53849 - 04/16/01 10:25 AM Re: coyote litter sizes
Wiley E Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 410
Loc: Kadoka, S.D.
Trappnman, Let me give you a little background information on Steve Allen. I realize that you like to test the waters a little bit but I think you know me well enough to know that I am usually not one to base opinions about coyotes on knee jerk reactions. Nor do I think I have all the answers.

Steve is unique in the biological community as far as I am concerned. Not only has he done a lot of studies involving coyote population dynamics, home ranges, litter size, etc., but he understands trapping, calling, and ADC work. He is highly respected by the biological, ADC, and recreational trapping community. That is a rare find! He is also objective. He also comes across very open minded and will readily seperate fact from speculation. He has gained the respect of the ADC men in numerous northern states that work with coyotes on a daily basis. With that said, brace yourself. LOL!

When it comes to litter size, we check many dens, check many repro tracts, and we see many litters. The biggest litter I ever saw was 14 and out of an old female. The biggest one that I know of is 15. Now if a coyote has 19 pups, I will tell you that it is a rare case indeed in this area. I have never seen it but not saying it won't happen. Some people see a double den and think it was from one bitch. I have seen that happen.

Coyote litter size is something that I am very familiar with. Coyotes seldom have trouble finding food and I have never seen a coyote that didn't have some fat on him unless he died of exposure from mange. I once saw a coyote with a bottom jaw blown off and it was the fattest coyote I ever saw from eating corn our of cow manure.

I realize that carrying capacity can be determined by prey availability and habitat. That will determine how far a coyote has to travel for food or how far they will defend their territory but coyotes are seldom without food. In harsh winter weather, other animals are dieing and easy to come by.

Litter size is more of a function of coyote age than of coyote nutrition. The experienced ADC men that have really thought about it will tell you the same thing. The rest keep repeating the low population higher pup numbers scenrio like I did until Steve explained this too me. There is a lot more observation here than speculation.

Before you get too far in comparing coyote genetics to dog genetics keep in mind that dogs are selectively bred where coyotes are not.

If you get in over your head here, I will throw you a rope! Don't Ace on me now! LOL! Wiley E

[This message has been edited by Wiley E (edited 04-16-2001).]

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#53850 - 04/16/01 11:03 AM Re: coyote litter sizes
Anonymous
Unregistered


Unless you were personally assisting in the birth, I would doubt any man's figures. I don't know a damn thing about the subject at hand, except two things.

First, nineteen pups seems to be an outrageous number, based on common sense alone.

Second, every time I see a family of coyotes, we are looking at one or two adults and two to four pups. I don't wipe out dens for that information, so they might have left some behind for whatever reason?

2½ things; don't some of you guys that are interested in such matters, check for scars? It is fairly easy to determine if a dead female has birthed once or twice and count them up, right? What are we seeing; versus counting pups in a den, which may or may not be siblings.

I have to say that some information is more digestable than other information. Everybody has an opinion and all that, and you can believe what you want. I am immediately skeptical of a number like nineteen, it defies common sense.

Good hunting. LB

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#53851 - 04/16/01 11:42 AM Re: coyote litter sizes
trappnman Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 54
Loc: Lake City, MN
My comment on the 19 pups was something I read. I took it as an EXTREME case, and that is how I have stated it. I am more than willing to accept what Wiley states as 14 being the highest- I'll even stipulate that 12 is the absolute highest. This is a very minor point, and should not distract from the REAL point- do coyotes have larger litters in low population areas. Some say yea, some say no. Obviously the concept is complex, and no definitive studies based on % of young vs old old females have been made. The following is based on years of breeding hounds and being intimately involved in the breeding programs of other very respected houndsmen. For example- a young female has more pups the younger she is- but the younger she is, the more pups that do not survive the first few days- houndsman say never count the pups until a week has passed.
The point being, that who does raise more pups to adulthood- old females or young? We don't know. My second point is that while I also have seldom seen a skinny coyote, one wonders how many didn't survive to get to that point. I am not saying that food availability causes increased birth numbers of pups, but SURVIORABILITY (if there is such a word)is related. A fat adult coyote in June doesn't tell you how many pups survived. Mortality rates of the pups must be based on a few simple things- availability of food (good nutrition),lack of disease, and lack of other predators. The less stress placed on the mother, the easy availability of food without competition, the more pups that survive. The more pups that survive in each litter, the bigger the starting carryover population will be.
Please don't misunderstand me, I am not knocking Steve Allen's results- but am saying that there is more than one way to look at things. Speaking of that, here is one statement that I wonder about "Does the fact that the number of deer doubles in an area mean that the availability of the deer in that area has also doubled?" How could it not?

Wiley- I had a old female coyote that had the top of her jaw shot off- from about 3 inches from her eyes! Farmer had shot her the previous season with a slug- she was as fat as could be.. trappnman (Boy, Mr. Wiley E, I would have liked to have heard you make that statement "dogs being selectively bred, wild canines are not" a million posts ago!!! LMAO


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Your American heritage- Fur Trapping, Hunting and Fishing

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#53852 - 04/16/01 08:30 PM Re: coyote litter sizes
howler Offline
Die Hard Member III

Registered: 04/20/01
Posts: 2027
Loc: Glasgow, Mt.
How many tits dose a coyote have, this ought to have some bering on pup survival, they need mothers milk for at least 4 or 5 weeks

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#53853 - 04/16/01 09:06 PM Re: coyote litter sizes
trappnman Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 54
Loc: Lake City, MN
While this quote is not attributed to a specific source, it appears in the NTA handbook, and sums up what I meant " Litter sizes average 5 to 7 pups in many areas. Litter sizes seem to be dependent upon coyote population densities, and litters may aveage 8 to 9 pups where coyote populations are sparse. Too, this phenomenon may reflect healthier coyotes due to an abundance of food" Higher population= more stress= higher pup mortality Lower populations =less stress= lower pup mortality.

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Your American heritage- Fur Trapping, Hunting and Fishing

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#53854 - 04/16/01 09:17 PM Re: coyote litter sizes
Doc in Texas Offline
New Member

Registered: 04/20/01
Posts: 8
Loc: Smithville,Texas,USA
To anwser your question,most coyotes have between 5 or 6 pups and they can have up to 12 at one time. but I have never heard of 19,but the survival rate of the pups would be very poor as the mother only has 6 nipples to feed with. As for survival of the pups after 6 weeks are poor as they are vulnerable to Hawks,Big cats,eagles,and yes other coyotes. Steve should be able to elaborate more as he has done studys.


Doc

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#53855 - 04/17/01 06:40 AM Re: coyote litter sizes
steve allen Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 88
Loc: Bismarck,ND
Looking at about 300 female coyotes collected from mid-April through mid-May 1980-87 the largest litter we saw was 11. Larger litters most likely do occur, but they are likely quite rare.

Animal condition is very difficult to determine from dead animals; the best data comes from live animals, but it is very difficult to determine the mechanics of reproductive performance from live animals.

Hopefully as the technology advances we will be better able to address some of these questions and advance knowledge to a higher level.

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#53856 - 04/17/01 07:11 PM Re: coyote litter sizes
steve allen Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 88
Loc: Bismarck,ND
A few more comments. Re: the litter of 19 that Trappnman discussed, it would be possible but not very likely all from 1 female. However, what is very likely is that there were indeed 19 pups at a den, but as Wiley correctly points out they may have been from 2 or more adult females with litters involved.

I suspect multiple litters are much more common than any of us realize. We can easily determine that pups at a den that are obviously of distinctly different sizes had different birth days, and thus came from different females. But can we accurately seperate pups into different litters if 2 or more females whelped with 2 or 3 days of each other? Probably not. In addition, we discussed the potential for pup adoption at some length about a month ago, and based on what we saw in red fox in North Dakota I would think the same possibility exists for coyotes as well.

Now, if say 2 or maybe even 3 females in a family all give birth to litters of various sizes, and the family adopts several stray pups that are wandering around; we could have a really large family (maybe litters even bigger than 19) in a big hurry.

Wiley would hate to see 2 or 3 families like this decide they were tired eating the same stupid rabbits, and it was time to try out lamb chops. Ugh!

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#53857 - 04/17/01 08:56 PM Re: coyote litter sizes
steve allen Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 88
Loc: Bismarck,ND
Trappnman--I just noticed the statement you pointed out in the NTA handbook re: litter sizes and population sizes. We had an excellent discussion on this, double dens and other stuff about a month ago, and it is under the topic "how many pups." If you haven't seen that, I would refer you to it for further information. Lots of good questions and interactions. Thought you might be interested if you haven't read that stuff.

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#53858 - 04/17/01 10:12 PM Re: coyote litter sizes
albert Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 05/10/01
Posts: 56
Loc: kuroki, sk. canada
Interesting post about fat coyotes with missing jaws. I find the topic of fat coyotes interesting. I can only recall skinning one thin coyote and it was a young of the year. not that i have skinned a lot of coyotes. the more i know about coyotes the more I'm convinced that they don't respond out of hunger. maybe i'm way off base but i honestly feel that a coyote doesn't have much trouble finding food.

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for what it is worth, eh!

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#53859 - 04/18/01 09:45 AM Re: coyote litter sizes
Wiley E Offline
Seasoned Member

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 410
Loc: Kadoka, S.D.
Trappnman, You should copy and paste our private email conversation to get Steve's reaction to that.

Steve, I hope I didn't embarrass you with my introduction of you to Trappnman. I just wanted to let Trappnman know that you were not a hip shooter. Trappnman and I correspond quite regularly.

In summary of that private email conversation, I believe litter size, as Steve has suggested, is a function of female age and nutrition although nutrition is seldom an issue for a coyote.

I believe that population density is a function of prey availability which affects territory size.

I think the number of yearling females that conceive is also an issue but not certain what causes it. It seems to be more of a function of family structures. In lower population levels, it seems that more yearling females will breed and have 2 or 3 pups and that can have quite an impact on the population dynamics.

Leonard, we check repro tracts for scars and embryos continously and most times it matches the number of pups we find.

Readers, there is certainly nothing enjoyable about removing pups but they are the reason for livestock loss in and around sheep on many occassions. No one likes that part of this job.

Survivability of pups seems to be a non issue. Most survive in this area. The only pup mortality that I have witnessed was suspected to be parvo. I had 4 coyotes necropsied one year that all died of parvo. They were real shitty around their rear ends. Wiley E

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#53860 - 04/18/01 10:06 AM Re: coyote litter sizes
trappnman Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 54
Loc: Lake City, MN
Steve- I did read the thread concerning "how many pups", and I went back and re-read it.

I understand where you are going with this, and I agree with much of it. A couple of points however continue to perplex me. 1) Why are coyotes so different in relation to average litter sizes than dogs. Your average pups per litter % is reversed in dogs. Young females usually have more pups than older females- and I bred just about all of my females at their first heat- unless it came extremely early. Granted, all of my females were in excellant health and nutrition- but it has been repeatily stated in these posts that nutrition is not a factor for coyotes, so they should be in peak condition. 2) Some posters have maintained that pup mortality rates are near 0. I again find this hard to believe- mange alone must be a major cause of death to pre-weaned pups. I have plenty of first hand experience with red mange on nursing pups, in fact the first use of Mite-a-Ban (in the early 80's) that the company knew of on 3 week old pups was done by my vet on a litter of beagle pups- it was our only chance to save what was left of the litter. Mange is defintely stress related, so higher populations contribute. Parvo, lepto, distemper, other predators all must take toll on the young pups. 3) Something else that must be taken into account is that older females whelp pups easier and nurse them better- the more litters a female has, the more she learns- there are exceptions of course. Therefore older females would raise more pups to maturity 4) With an average of .75 pups per litter, that means many females had no pups- are you including barren or otherwise unbred females to get this average? thanks, trappnman


Wiley E- I see that our posts went on at about the same time. I can't figure out all that copy, paste thing, but feel free to post our e-mails. I summed up most of it above. A couple of thoughts on your post.

1) If the amount of coyote pups related to age of the female is reversed from dogs, and it does seem like this is true- it is a puzzle to me as to why- obviously it is only one of several genetic traits in which they differ. I bow to superior knowledge and accept this point. BUT

2) You state more yearlings are bred during low populations, and have up to 400% more pups than Steve's averages, and "have quite an impact on population dynamics". In addition, Steve states that the number of older females is higher in a low population area, and they also have a higher litter number. Add up these two facts, and it seems to me that the overall population would be higher-

3) Your diagnoses of parvo was probally correct. Unfortunatley, field trialers in the 70 and 80's were on the leading edge of this- I lost entire litters to parvo before we knew what was what. But mange is also a terrible killer of pups. I know that the coyotes between Kadoka and the Hills have a lot of mange- I see a lot of them every year-many completely bald. Mange is stress related, and is also hereditary- all of the bitch's pups carry the trait- and mange can destroy entire litters- it is hard to believe with the amount of mange present in the local coyote population, the pup mortality rates are not affected.

Time to go trapping-trappnman
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Your American heritage- Fur Trapping, Hunting and Fishing

[This message has been edited by trappnman (edited 04-18-2001).]

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#53861 - 04/18/01 07:02 PM Re: coyote litter sizes
steve allen Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 88
Loc: Bismarck,ND
Wiley--Thanks for the consideration, but not to worry--I haven't been embarrased for about 30 years.

I also agree with your comments except the 1 on population densities/prey availability. From what we saw food is always available in some form; population density then becomes a function of reproduction and mortality. If reproduction remains relatively constant (which we think it does), then the main variable is mortality. Mortality can come from lots of things (e.g. mange, trappers, wolves, etc.). If mortality rates exceed reproductive input, the population will decling and vice versa.

Certainly some pups die after whelping, but like you said I think the number is minimal with the exception of areas heavily infested with mange.

Trappnman--Your 1st question re: why are coyotes and domestic dogs so different reproductively is an excellent one. However, I don't know. I wish I did. We saw the same reproductive trends in red fox as in coyotes, but not quite so dramatic.

Re: #2 We saw low mortality rates in pups of both red fox and coyotes during the denning season. However, all our data was gathered pre-mange. I had never seen mange in this country at all until 1988, and now it is going ballistic. Certainly if the adults in a family have mange probably all the pups will get it and will surely die. Re:#3 Certainly you comments are exactly correct when we discuss post-whelping survival rates. But we still can't account for the higher ovulation rates, higher in utero litter sizes, and lower prenatal mortality rates. Nevertheless, you point is well founded that female age class is likely an indication of something going on inside the female that produces the higher reproductive performance. We frankly don't know what this is. I wish we did, however. Perhaps the next generation will gather some data to help us answer your question. An excellent question by the way.

Re: #4 You're exactly correct re: yearling litter sizes. There are always a whole bunch of zeros, and the occasional 4-7 or 8 embryos. The interesting thing I saw was that almost all the zeros didn't even come into estrous (i.e. no ovulation/no corpora lutea in the ovaries). This was different than the red fox where we saw virtually all females come into estrous, but subsequently lost all or parts of the litter through pre-natal mortality. One has to hypothesize then that there may be a behaviorial phenomenon occuring that selects against young females (e.g. subordinate family member, extraterritorial female not associated with any family?). Lots of possibilities, but again we hit the limits of the available data.

Additionally, the number of old females is not higher in a low population compared to a high one, but it is the % of old females in the population that is higher. If mortality is applied to a population, a greater % of young animals are taken compared to old ones; we are then left with a population that has a disproportionate % of older animals in it. The overall pup production is lower in the low population, but the proportion that comes from the older females is greater because the % of older females is greater.

I hope I didn't confuse everyone. If I did, keep posting. We'll keep talking until all the questions are answered or we simply run out of data.

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#53862 - 04/18/01 07:14 PM Re: coyote litter sizes
trappnman Offline
Predator Master

Registered: 04/21/01
Posts: 54
Loc: Lake City, MN
Excellent summations and clarification on these points. I have no problems with accepting your conclusions- it seems that like many things, the more we know, the more there is to know. trappnman

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Your American heritage- Fur Trapping, Hunting and Fishing

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