Yellowstone Wolf And Coyote: Brothers That Don't Get Along

Today, wolves are healthy in the park and coyotes are rarer. Researcher Bob Crabtree has noted that the previously-abundant coyotes have dropped off fifty percent from pre-wolf years.

Wily Canis latrans, the coyote, was the cock of the walk in Yellowstone National Park for nearly a century. But when the first reintroduced wolves stepped out of their pens in Yellowstone after being absent during that time, it was an "oh-oh" moment for the park's coyote population.

Many researchers expected as much and the fact that coyotes and wolves don't exactly get along is nothing new. Indeed, the famous naturalist J. Frank Dobie wrote in 1947 that the West-wide extermination of the wolf was undoubtedly to the coyote's benefit. Dobie's prognostication bore fruit; coyotes now range from the outskirts of New York City to the streets of Los Angeles, a stretch of country that has actually increased despite intense persecution on coyotes from mankind.

But in Yellowstone in 1995, Old Man Coyote found a whole different story.

Coyote at the Madison River in Yellowstone in winter

Coyote at the Madison River in Yellowstone

Today, wolves are healthy in the park and coyotes are rarer. Researcher Bob Crabtree has noted that the previously-abundant coyotes have dropped off fifty percent from pre-wolf years. Competition is part of the picture, but wolves also kill coyotes. Eighty to ninety percent of coyote deaths from wolves take place at kills, where Wily Coyote is not quite so sneaky and gets a little too close to his larger brethren.

For other animals, this can be good news. Pronghorn antelope fawns, for instance, are frequent prey of coyotes. Anecdotal evidence so far is showing that Yellowstone's pronghorn population is doing better, with better fawn survival where wolves are present to keep coyote populations down. In fact, where coyotes are abundant, fawn survival has been documented as almost nonexistent. A researcher in Grand Teton National Park has seen and recorded evidence that shows that the presence of wolves is a direct benefit to pronghorn because the big canines knock back the coyote population.


Gray Wolf Howling

4 Yellowstone Wolf Experts Share Observations on Adaptation

A flood of science is emerging from research focused on the impact that wolves have on a host of other species, especially elk and coyotes.

Yellowstone grey wolf in the snow

More $$$ to Economy: Yellowstone Wolf Watching or Elk Hunting?

Wolves mean fewer elk and fewer elk hunters. That costs $$. But wolves also bring in the lookers who want to learn about these predators and that brings $$.

West Yellowstone Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center. Photo by John Williams.

Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

Complete your vacation to Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks by visiting the not-for-profit Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana. Observe live bears and wolves in naturalistic habitats.


Yellowstone Grizzly Bears vs. Wolves

For decades, the sole rulers of Yellowstone were grizzly bears. They are now re-learning how to cope with the rise of an equal competitor - the reintroduced gray wolf.


Wolf Reintroduction Changes Ecosystem

Yellowstone wolves are causing a tropic cascade of ecological change, including helping to increase beaver populations and bring back aspen, and vegetation.

Yellowstone Wolf Howling

How Many Wolves are in Yellowstone?

There are roughly 60 wolves grouped into 8 different packs inside Yellowstone, but the number has constantly fluctuated in recent times.

Wolf Pup and Mother at Den Site

Yellowstone Gray Wolves Reproduce and Relocate

Yellowstone wolves have had no problems hooking up with mates, forming packs and having pups. The original 65 wolves that were introduced to Yellowstone and Central Idaho have grown to 835 wolves.


Wolves Bring Aspen Back

Loss of Aspens in Yellowstone National Park traced to Elk grazing before wolf reintroduction. Now wolves help control Elk population.

Yellowstone elk.

Gray Wolves Impact Elk inside Yellowstone

How wolves in Yellowstone have impacted their environment is an evolving story. What's happened regarding ungulate populations, hunter harvest, domestic livestock, and land use.