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Most of the general population would be able to recall that coyotes are members of the dog family, and that they generally inhabit the northwest United States. Other than that, not much attention is paid to this particular canine. It will try to avoid man, as man will try to avoid it. There is, however, a very complex science behind this wild dog of the northwest. The habitat, physical nature and instinctive behavior of this animal make it easy for an onlooker to become uninterested, but those traits are also what have made it almost a symbol of the Native American and Western cultures.

The coyote is an animal that is called by many names. The term "coyote" itself, meaning "little wolf," comes from the Native Americans, more specifically the Aztecs (Bansfield 286). These are peoples that have lived and co-existed with the coyote for as long as their cultures have been around. Their terminology reflects not a scientific view of the dog, but a natural view of its existence within the ecosystem.

Following its' genealogy, it is in the class Mammalia, order Carnivora, family Canidae, and it is given the scientific name Canis latrans, meaning "barking dog (Forsyth 169)." This is the term given to it by a group of educated scientists who studied and analyzed the dog in its' own habitat and in an experimental setting and decided it more resembled the domesticated canine than the wild wolf.

Although the coyote is typically associated with the open northwest, it can now be found throughout the United States. Sightings of this canine now commonly occur from eastern Alaska to New England, and Florida north to Canada (Bansfield 288). Not native to the state of Ohio, its' adaptability to changes caused by urban sprawl can be seen in the fact that it can presently be found in all 88 counties of Ohio. In the spring of 1995, a pair of coyotes was even spotted in New York City. That presents simple evidence that coyotes are blessed with excellent senses and adaptability (Gese).

In physical stature, the coyote is similar to a medium-sized Collie or a small German shepherd. They commonly weigh somewhere in the range of 15 to 45 pounds, with a shoulder height usually 15 to 20 inches (Forsyth 169). Their general size is usually dependent upon their habitat. Those found in low deserts and valleys tend to be on the lighter side of that scale, while the mountain-dwelling coyotes are the heavier of the two groups.

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