If you spend any time in the lower meadows of Rocky Mountain National Park, it is very likely you will spot a coyote or two on the move. They move quietly but quickly along the edges of the forest.
Coyote in Rocky Mountain National Park
The coyote may not be a rare creature, being found throughout the United States including its urban areas, but it is a truly remarkable animal that plays an important role within the park. They like to make their homes in and around the meadows, often claiming a badger hole as their den.
Despite the continued expansion of human development, the coyotes have continued to thrive. The main reason for this is their incredible adaptability. Although they used to hunt during the day and sleep at night, they changed to a more nocturnal schedule to avoid encounters with man. In Rocky Mountain National Park, where they are protected, they again have a more diurnal schedule. Coyotes are omnivores, eating nearly anything from grass and vegetables to fruit and meat. This has led them to living off human garbage in many urban areas. Here in Rocky the coyotes rely primarily on deer, elk, and small rodents for their diet.
Coyotes are extremely capable hunters who typically work together to capture their prey. They can sprint up to forty miles per hour and jump a distance of over twelve feet. By working together as a pack, coyotes have been known to herd animals into places of ambush and regularly take down larger animals like elk, bighorn sheep, and mule deer. They are also just as willing to scavenge meat from carcasses they find. In the early mornings or late evenings you can often hear their howls and yips as they gather together in their close-knit packs.
Wildlife Watching Tips:
Coyotes are often active during dawn and dusk and are usually spotted in meadows or in the forests around the edges of the meadows. While they are very active in the park, they are not always seen. Find a quiet spot along the edge of Moraine Park or Beaver Meadows one evening and if you stay still and quiet for long enough, there is a chance you’ll spot one.