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Study: Urban Coyotes Practice Monogamy

September 26, 2012 by  

COLUMBUS, Ohio (UPI) — Coyotes living in cities don’t stray from their mates and couples stay together for life, which may help them thrive in urban areas, U.S. researchers say.

Scientists at Ohio State University said genetic samples of 236 coyotes in the Chicago area over a six-year period found no evidence of polygamy nor of one mate ever leaving another while the other was still alive.

“I was surprised we didn’t find any cheating going on,” OSU wildlife ecologist Stan Gehrt said. “Even with all the opportunities for the coyotes to philander, they really don’t.”

Loyalty between mates may be a key to their success in urban areas, he said.

Living in food-rich cities encourages female coyotes’ natural ability to produce large litters of young, so it’s important for females to have faithful partners to help raise them all, Gehrt said.

“If the female were to try to raise those large litters by herself, she wouldn’t be able to do it,” Gehrt said in an OSU release. “But the male spends just as much time helping to raise those pups as the female does.”

Unlike males of polygamous species, a male coyote “knows that every one of those pups is his offspring” and has a clear genetic stake in helping them survive, Gehrt said.

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