Coyote, also known as the American Jackal or the prairie wolf, may be found in extensively in North America, with populations existing both in the wild and others in suburban and even urban areas.
This animal is a species of canine that is small sized up to approximately 45 lbs in weight but more commonly around 25 lbs. There are many subspecies of this animal.
Coyotes have been known to mate with gray wolves and dogs, creating a hybrid animal with traits from both species involved in the mating.
Coyotes that mate with dogs produce offspring that may be more timid with humans, who then in some cases feed the coydogs as the are called. This a problem because the coydogs may become aggressive towards people for food.
Coyotes eat cats, dogs, mice, rabbit and sheep etc. When coyotes are in a pack they can go for larger animals such as elk and cattle. They can eat fruits and vegetables, insects and ground nesting birds as well.
In the wild the coyote shouldn't be a problem for humans in that they have a fear of us. If you see one in an urban area such as a park, don't panic in that there is a good chance that you are not in danger. However, if you have small children round them up to safety just in case. Smaller targets in the site of a lone coyote is what interests this animal, if it is intent on predating.
If the animal approaches you or your children and it is too close for comfort or you feel there is a threat, yell at it while making big to chase it away. If it isn't deterred and continues to approach, throw whatever you can at it such as rocks and sticks. Have something in hand to beat it with if necessary. Beware particularly of small pets even if they are on a leash while you take a walk.
Never feed a coyote and do not leave food out that may attract them and potentially cause unwanted human encounters with the animal.
Here are some links to help you learn more about coyote.
1. Washington Nature Mapping Program - Coyotes
2. The Conservation Agency – The Narragansett Bay Coyote Study
3. Wikipedia - Coyote