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There are an estimated 12,000 Eastern coyotes living in all corners of Maine.
Intrepid wildlife camera trapper Colin Chase of Gray has captured numerous videos of the animals with his efforts in far-flung areas of the state.
Chase was struck by the uniqueness of today’s video subject, a coyote that features a different look than most of those we might see on our outdoor excursions.
The video footage, which was taken on two different cameras during the winter of 2020-21, shows a melanistic (black) coyote bopping around the woods. He believes the animal pictured to be a young female.
“Eastern coyotes are commonly tan, but a range of alternative coat colors have been documented, including blond, red and black,” said Shevenell Webb, furbearer biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. “The black coyote in the video had a nice white chest blaze and lighter colored belly, which I have seen in other black coyotes.”
Chase helped draw the coyote into camera range by applying a skunk scent to the log pictured in the video. The black coyote definitely seems interested, as it hops up on the log and tries to further investigate.
“Most species have a hard time resisting the skunk smell. This is a great technique to increase visits to your trail camera,” Webb said of that tactic.
The second camera was focused on a porcupine den in the base of a tree, which also received a visit from the black coyote.
“Black coyotes are certainly less common, so this was a great find,” Webb said.
In the video, Chase provides some comparative footage of a coyote with more common fur coloration. That animal appears considerably larger than its counterpart.
According to the Atlanta Coyote Project, black coat coloration in coyotes is a trait that is sometimes seen in those animals in the Southeast, but may be less common elsewhere in the United States.
“The same genetic mutation that causes the trait in coyotes can also be found in black-colored gray and red wolves, as well as in dogs,” the site said. “This suggests that the trait could have found its way into the southeastern coyote gene pool through past hybridizations with wolves.”
According to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, the Eastern coyote expanded its range north and east into the state during the 1930s. They proliferated after wolves were eradicated by hunting, trapping and poisoning.
Many thanks to Colin Chase for another great video. Be sure to check out and subscribe to his “Maine Woodsbooger” YouTube channel.