Coyotes have managed to elude much serious scrutiny by being exquisitely wary, so much so that even dedicated coyote scientists can struggle to find ways to lay eyes on them, not to mention hands.
Dr. Laura Prugh, a wildlife ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley, said trying to survey a population of coyotes in Alaska was “like working with a ghost species.” To even have a chance of catching a coyote, she said, traps must be boiled to wash away human scent, handled with gloves and then hidden extremely carefully with all traces of human footprints brushed away. Even then, the trap is likely to catch only the youngest and most inexperienced of animals.
Coyotes have remained so much in possession of their own secrets that it was not until this year that the real identity of the coyotes living in the eastern part of the country was revealed. Two separate teams of researchers studying the genes of coyotes in the Northeast reported evidence that these animals that have for decades upon decades been thought of as coyotes are in fact coyote-wolf hybrids.