Removing the “mis” from misinformation

The Coyote~Wolf~Bear Education Initiative involves three organizations, Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada (coyotes), Hannah Barron of Earthroots/Wolves Ontario (wolves) and Mike McIntosh of Bear With Us Inc. (bears).

To encourage coexistence, we are committed to providing the public, elected municipal leaders and other community stakeholders with effective tools to navigate the science behind wildlife biology in real-world scenarios. We can provide accurate information about behaviour, risk management and non-lethal conflict solutions that support people, coyotes, wolves and bears inhabiting a shared landscape.  

As paradigm shifts in conservation science bring ethics to the forefront of wildlife management, we underscore the importance of minimizing wildlife encounters.  Facilitating non-lethal, sustainable strategies for communities through education promotes awareness and appreciation for wildlife. Removing the ‘mis’ from misinformation.

North America’s Song Dog: A Champion Ambassador for Co-flourishing

Coyotes are the epitome of a reliable “eco-thermometer” for any community in which they inhabit. Coyotes put us all on notice when they get too comfortable around people because of human indifference and misunderstanding about this family oriented, social and highly adaptable canine. In other words, when communities experience conflict, much can be learned from the presence of coyotes on how to become better stewards and citizens. Coyotes, a keystone species, are one of the most persecuted animals in North America. With little protection through lethal management policies, coyotes are destroyed without any policy accountability. Known as North America’s song dog, their brilliant vocalizations have graced ancient lands since the Pleistocene era. Coyotes are a respected part of Native American storytelling and hold a sacred place in many cultural traditions today.

One of the most misunderstood and maligned native carnivores, the coyote has been persecuted throughout history in North America and yet has aptly adapted to living in diverse ecosystems including populated metropolitan centers such as Toronto, Canada and Chicago in the United States.

Meet the Eastern Coyote

The scientific name for the coyote is Canis latrans (western coyote).

They are part of the Family Canidae which includes dogs, wolves, foxes, jackals. The Family Canidae is referred to in general as the canids.

Genetics from the Algonquin wolf (Eastern Wolf) and Western Coyote hybridization has evolved into what is commonly referred to as the Eastern Coyote. A rich genetic blending which has led to the Eastern Coyote (e. coyote) often being referenced by scientists as Canis latrans x lycaon and/or Canis latrans var..  This unique and historically significant species began its evolution over a century ago filling an ecological niche. Weight ranges for the slightly larger cousin to the western coyote, are on average between 22- 41 pounds. The coyote is significantly less in body mass to the Algonquin wolf.

Coyotes form highly social and structured families also called packs. Family members share in the hunting, pup rearing and territorial protection duties. Intact, established packs are capable of hunting larger ungulate prey targeting weakened, unhealthy herd members. Pack size varies depending on habitat, available food sources, and human impact (urban/rural). Our past research concludes 2-3 adults, and pups, however, variations in family size fluctuates due to habitat, forced migration, available food sources, and mortality rates.

Learn more about Coyote at: Link to Coyote Watch Canada

Eastern and grey wolves have similar life cycles

Wolves are social animals

Two of the most iconic characteristics of wolves are related to their social nature: cooperative breeding and cooperative hunting. Both species of wolves typically live in packs – groups of related individuals. There is usually only one breeding pair within the pack, often termed the alpha pair. The rest of the wolf pack is made up of related family members – offspring and sometimes siblings of the breeding pair. The breeding pair is usually unrelated – wolves regulate their own diversity if they are able to find unrelated animals to breed with on the landscape. The pack is a dynamic group, and takes part in both the yearly raising of pups and hunting activities. Pack members spend a great deal of time socializing with other family members, and display great variation in temperament, or personality.

Cooperative Breeding

The breeding pair, usually monogamous, asserts its dominance over other members in the pack in an effort to prevent other wolves in the pack from mating.  Without enough prey, multiple pup litters would not survive.  Where prey is very abundant, it is more common to see 2 litters of pups within a pack.

The breeding pair spends a lot of time in courtship leading up to their mating, which generally occurs in February depending on where the wolves live.  Pups are born about 63 days later in a den that may have been used many times by the same pack (perhaps even for hundreds of years). Born deaf and blind, they remain in the den for about 3 weeks before emerging and learning to play, hunt and travel with various members of the pack over the next several months. Females other than the breeder are known to lactate and cooperatively nurse pups within their pack.  The whole pack is engaged in raising the pups; to wolves, family is everything.

As the pups age and the pack begins to travel further from the den as a group to hunt, pups are often moved to areas called rendezvous sites where they will be protected while most if not all adult pack members are away hunting.  Pups begin travelling with the pack members on hunts in the autumn and winter, learning cooperative hunting techniques needed to become important contributors to the pack health in the future.  Over the next year, pups may disperse from their pack, searching for new territory and potential mates in the surrounding landscape.  Those individuals who remain with their parental pack often assume den preparation and babysitting duties for the pups born the following spring.  In this way, the great family cycle continues.

Learn more about the wolf at:

A bear is an omnivore, however it is classified as a carnivore, yet the black bear is primarily a vegetarian.
Very intelligent mammal. Intelligence rivals that of the great apes.
Extremely acute sense of smell. Scent oriented mammal.
Good eyesight, similar to humans, bears see colour.
Cubs stay with mother for minimum 1.5 years.
Cubs learn by following mother, mimicking her actions and activities.

Bears inhabit a sensory world that is fundamentally different from ours. We are sight oriented animals, depending principally on the extremely fine discriminatory vision. Bears are scent-oriented: they determine their path through the world largely by determining what it smells like. For all mammals, the acuity of the sense of smell depends primarily upon the size of the olfactory mucosa, a specialized area of mucous membrane located in the nose. In humans, the olfactory mucosa normally totals less than a square inch in area. In the average bear, it may be one hundred times that much. If the wind is right, a bear can smell you coming when you are still over a mile away. Despite its strong reliance on its nose, however, a bear’s other senses are as good as or better than our own. Bears can pick up the sounds of normal human conversation over a distance of nearly a quarter of a mile, and will usually come alert at the click of a camera shutter half a football field away from them. Their hearing, like that of a dog or cat, appears to range well up into the ultrasonic frequencies (blowing one of those “silent” dog whistles in bear country is probably not a particularly good idea). Their vision is also acute. This flies in the face of popular wisdom, but it happens to be true. Their shape and color recognition ability is excellent, —better than that of chimpanzees and other close human relatives.

Omnivores are opportunists, will happily feed on any trophic level, as readers may discover for themselves if they go feast upon a steak smothered in mushrooms with a glass of wine and a side order of salad.  A bear would enjoy that meal every bit as much as you would, and would probably take it from if it had the opportunity. An omnivores niche – —to mix sports metaphors a bit—- is that of the pinch hitter. Whenever another animal falls down a bit on the job, or leaves its niche temporarily unfilled, the omnivore is there to take up the slack. The key to this niche is flexibility, and the key to flexibility is intelligence. An omnivore must be able to recognize opportunities for food, even when they come in unfamiliar guises. It must be able to adapt its diet to what is available, meaning that it must be able to conceptualize the idea of substitution: if you can’t catch the squirrel, you substitute the nuts in the squirrel’s storehouse. It must be willing to experiment with new foods— and be able to carry out those experiments in ways that won’t harm it (discovering that a plant is toxic is of very little value to an animal that dies in the process of making this discovery). The animal must above all be able to learn easily, both from its own experiences and from the experiences of others of its kind. It must be able to build up a specific, individualized body of knowledge that is uniquely tailored to its own peculiar environment, the distinctive combination of biocenters and travel corridors that makes up what it has taken for its home,range. Instinct cannot be tailored this way. Generalized knowledge can be passed on by the genes, but specific knowledge must be taught. This intense need for learning colors everything about an omnivore, right down to the level of biological reproduction.

Learn more about the bear at: and throughout this website:

Credits – Referenced from a book entitled: Bears -Their Life and Behavior by William Ashworth Published by Crown Publishers, Inc., New York, Information Tidbits by Mike