The coyote seems to thrive on man's attempt to get rid of it. In one year, the U.S. government spent $8 million on coyote control programs that resulted in more coyotes.

The key to the coyote's success is its adaptability, according to an article in the current issue of Sports Afield. While the continent's wolf population has shrunk, the cleverer and more flexible coyote has stood its ground and learned to live in man's shadow.Most ambitious attempts to "control" coyotes by eliminating them have failed. In 1971, the U.S. government spent $8 million on control programs, and individual states spent up to $1 million, all in an effort to reduce livestock and game animal losses due to coyote predation.

Instead of reducing the coyote population, the measures produced an incredible rise in reproduction rates. The bottom line was more, and smarter, coyotes.

The fact is coyotes will thrive wherever an adequate food supply exists and will reproduce at a rate sufficient to make the fullest use of available food. A reduction of food supply is the only method that is sure to limit their numbers.

Coyotes eat lambs when lambs represent the greatest amount of nutrition they can gather for the least output of energy. They kill deer when they are newborn, birthing, weakened by poor health or crippled or caught in deep snow. In winter, coyotes tend to travel in groups. Studies have shown that single coyotes rarely kill deer. Pairs of coyotes occasionally bring one down, but packs of four to six coyotes kill nearly every deer they elect to chase.

More often, coyotes survive on fruit, seeds and grass. Small rodents are a year-round mainstay of their diet, and the coyote also samples human trash.

Thousands of garbage-eating, pet-killing, bird feeder-ambushing coyotes live within the Los Angeles city limits. Coyotes now inhabit portions of 49 states and every Canadian province, with the exception of Newfoundland. When coyotes invade an area where few coyotes exist, they may crossbreed with wolves or dogs.