Why do Coyotes disperse? Back up a minute…what does “disperse” mean? It means leaving home.
So dispersal is something we have very much in common with Coyotes and other carnivores as well. When we grow up, we leave home. We leave to find our own home and seek out a mate and have children. When Coyotes grow up, they leave home too. They leave to find their own home, their territory, and seek out their mate with whom they will have their pups, and are faithful to each other until they die
Like us, sometimes their dispersal journey is short (not too far from their parents) and other times their dispersal journey is long. Each Coyote makes those decisions for different reasons and the different situations of their life.
But, when to disperse? When to leave Home? In Coyote’s world that decision has everything to do with survival. What are the chances of survival if one stays with his or her family? And what are the chances of survival if one leaves and ventures out on one’s own? And survival is all about food availability. So if the parental territory is rich in a generous supply of food, then why leave? But if the family is struggling to survive, then taking the risk to leave the security of home may very well be the better choice.
These are tough choices for members of a very social species. And when those choices to leave are made when a coyote is an adolescent, that choice can cause them their lives. For all adolescents, no matter what their species, their risk taking and naivete’ of danger is part of their youth. But the drive to disperse is deep in their DNA.
For in the natural world, dispersal is vital to the health of the species. When Coyotes disperse away from home, and mate with another who has not grown up near them, the combination of their different genetics enables them to remain vital and strong. In doing so, they are able to carry on into the future.
So know that there are Travelers on our landscape seeking out their own lives…..just like us. It is good to leave them in peace to do so.