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  • Writer's pictureTerry Wise

The “Prairie Wolf” on Carillon Stonegate Pond

A frequent hunter around Carillon Stonegate Ponds is the Coyote as was seen this morning. Here they are constantly stalking around our ponds looking for prey. On most days, they roam in solitude; occasionally as pairs.

Coyotes are the largest wild predator in Illinois, according to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources – a.k.a, the “Prairie Wolf” as Illinois pioneers called them.

The Coyote resembles a small German shepherd dog, but its nose is longer and more pointed and its tail is bushier than most dogs. And the Coyote carries its tail below the level of the back rather than curved upward. Its upper body is typically light gray to dull yellow. The Coyote has course outer hairs that are usually tipped with black. The underparts are whitish. Its ears are erect and pointed. Their eyes are greenish gold. They average 24 inches in height and 50 inches in length, including a 16-inch tail. Most Coyotes weigh 25 to 35 pounds, although some may weigh up to 55 pounds.

Coyotes are nocturnal - mostly active from dusk until dawn. For many of us around Carillon Stonegate Pond, we frequently hear the nocturnal yaps and howls of Coyotes. But - as in the photos below, they are sometimes seen during the day as occurs often here at Carillon Stonegate Pond. Although Coyotes live in family groups, they usually travel and hunt alone or in loose pairs. They are fast and can run up to over 40 miles per hour for short distances. And, they are surprisingly good swimmers. Their primary prey are rodents and small animals. They have an almost playful jump or bounce to catch their prey.

Coyotes are very adaptable and occur in nearly all types of habitat, including urban and suburban areas. They prefer semi-open country with a mix of farmlands, grasslands and woodlands. Pup season (April / May) is the only time Coyotes will voluntarily use a den; otherwise, Coyotes usually sleep above ground in the open or in cover. Their typical "home range" is some 12 square miles such that they are always on the move.

Carillon Stonegate Ponds (and the Carillon at Stonegate community) have a large variety of birds and wildlife for our residents to enjoy.

Take a hike this winter (or view from the warmth of your home) and see what you can find – and identify!

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