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Do Coyotes Hunt in Packs?

Have you ever heard a coyote howl? If so, you may have listened to the chilling answers from all over the region. Their response will make them seem like the urban coyotes are everywhere. And that’s because these social creatures have the biggest arsenal of communicating sounds of all mammals.

The fact that they seem everywhere may leave you wondering if coyotes hunt in packs. After all, packs have a higher success rate and can keep each other safe when attacked.

Do Coyotes Hunt in Packs Every Time?

Coyotes are generally solitary hunters who go after smaller prey that they can take down alone. Coyotes eat rabbits, squirrels, and mice, among other animals that they can easily hunt. But they are known to form small family groups or loose packs.

Wolves and coyotes are closely related as they belong to the same genus. They’re different species with different behaviors and hunting habits. However, wolves have a higher likelihood of creating a hunting pack than coyotes.

Coyotes form packs during the breeding season and when raising their young. 

These packs typically comprise a mated pair and their offspring from the previous year.

In these groups, coyotes may work together to hunt and protect their territory. They use cooperative hunting strategies to catch prey more effectively, such as surrounding and ambushing their target.

Compared to wolves, which are well-known for their cooperative hunting technique, Coyote packs tend to be smaller and less organized.

While they may collaborate in hunting, coyotes are highly adaptable and can also survive as solitary individuals. They exhibit a flexible social structure that depends on factors such as food availability and population density.

So, do coyotes hunt in packs? Yes, they do form groups for certain hunting situations.

The Benefits of a Hunting Pack

It is tough being a lone coyote; it may have to build a den and search for food while avoiding potential predators. And that’s because coyotes don’t live in huge packs like wolves. Coyotes hunt and live in loose groups with defined territories to protect their young ones.

But they have been known to come together for certain hunting situations. Some of these situations include:

To Hunt a Huge Prey

Coyotes hunt in packs when taking down huge prey, which they would never do when alone. According to research conducted in Central West Virginia, coyote diets include white-tailed deer, which they hunt in packs. But their prey changes with availability and season.

Unfortunately, they can rarely take a huge healthy deer alone. Generally, a coyote’s weight ranges between 15 pounds and 40 pounds, while the huge ones can weigh about 55 pounds. 

The huge ones are believed to be a crossbreed between coyotes and wolves.

Considering their weight, a coyote can’t take a deer alone. To achieve this, more coyotes gather as family members and go hunting. When taking down huge prey like an elk, they use the following tactics:

  • The 1st tactic: The coyotes take turns chasing the deer and eventually tire it down. At that point, the pack members move in and attack together.
  • The 2nd tactic: The pack members lure a prey to a waiting pack that’s ready to ambush it. The pack herds the prey to other coyotes and hopes they can slow it down for the others to take it down.

With the above tactics, the pack members have a better chance of taking down a huge prey.

Pack Hunting Improves Their Success Rate

Other than being clever creatures, coyotes are the world’s most adaptable animals. This can be proved by the huge coyote population in Central America, Canada, and North America. One of the main reasons for this is their unique pack-hunting behavior.

While a huge percentage of animals stick to their normal hunting routine, coyotes use a wide range of techniques. They are known to hunt in pairs, alone, or in a group when dealing with huge prey. When they’re not in a family group, they form a hunting pair.

Hunting in a pair helps them increase their likelihood of success and cover a huge area.

Coyotes Form a Pack for Breeding Purposes

Coyotes may form packs for breeding and raising their young. Coyotes are typically monogamous, and a mated pair often stays together for several years. During the breeding season (late winter or early spring), the mated pair becomes more social and forms groups.

This family group often includes the mated pair and their offspring from previous years. The offspring help in caring for and protecting the new four to seven pups. This collaborative effort enhances the chances of survival for the young coyotes.

While these family groups are not as structured or organized as wolf packs, they serve the purpose of cooperative parenting.

The family structure can persist for some time. But as the pups grow older, they may eventually disperse to establish their territories and find mates. Their social dynamics are adaptable, and their behavior can vary depending on factors like habitat, food availability, and population density.

Coyotes Hunts With Other Species

coyote crossing

Generally, there are lots of examples of different species working together, like aphids and ants and even anemones and clownfish. But one of the most bizarre collaborations is between badgers and coyotes.

Coyotes and badgers are incredible hunters, but they have been known to hunt together. And in most cases, their partnerships have included more coyotes. Coyotes have been known to steal a badger’s food, but they do work together.

Coyotes have great smell and hearing capabilities, while badgers are great diggers. When hunting, a coyote can find out where ground squirrels are, and the badger will flush it out.

Partnering with a badger has the same effect on their success rate, just like them working together as a pack.

The Size of a Coyote Pack

Coyotes are known for their flexible social structure, and the size of a pack can vary. Typically, a pack consists of a breeding pair and their offspring from the current and previous years.

The pack size can range from a few individuals to over 10, depending on factors like food availability and habitat.

In areas with abundant resources, coyote packs may be larger, while in areas with scarce resources, they’re smaller. The smaller packs can include just a mated pair. Coyotes are also adaptable and can live in various environments, from rural to urban areas.

Their social structure allows adult coyotes to be versatile in response to changing conditions.

How Far Coyotes Travel in Search of Food

The distance that a group of coyotes travel varies with various factors such as food availability, territory, and size. Coyotes are known to have relatively large home ranges, and their movement patterns can be influenced by various factors. Some of these factors include food, water, and suitable shelter.

In more rural or natural environments, a coyote pack’s territory may cover several square miles. They may travel extensively in search of prey, which can include small mammals, birds, insects, and even fruit. Coyotes are also known to scavenge for food and may cover large distances in a single night.

Urban coyotes can adapt to smaller territories and may travel shorter distances, taking advantage of the resources available. It’s important to note that coyotes are highly adaptable and can thrive in a variety of habitats, including suburbs.

Overall, the specific distance a pack travels can vary widely based on local conditions. Their movements are influenced by the availability of resources and the need to establish and defend a territory. But solitary coyotes travel even longer than a pack in search of food.


Coyotes can be found everywhere, but they’re rarely seen. Unlike most creatures, coyotes have various unique hunting styles, food preferences, and behaviors. For instance, coyotes are known for hunting in packs or even partnering with other animals like badgers.

Coyotes are lone creatures that love hunting alone; after all, they feed on smaller creatures like rabbits. But they do partner with other pack members when dealing with bigger prey like deer or elk. A pack of coyotes is composed of 3 to 7 coyotes with some of their offspring.

A pack of coyotes can be dangerous. So you should avoid them, and if you encounter them, you should throw something at them. But stand your ground because any sign of fear can force them to attack you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do coyotes hunt in packs?

Yes, they do form hunting packs when attacking a huge prey like a deer. But in most cases, they prefer staying in pairs or alone.

What animal do coyotes prefer hunting?

Coyote’s diet includes rodents from ground squirrels, chipmunks, rats, and mice. But their diet is quite vast, and they can consume anything around them when food is scarce.

Do coyotes form packs to take care of their young ones?

Yes, coyotes form parks during the breeding season and tend to take care of and groom the young ones every season.

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