Are there black coyotes?

Melanism in Coyotes

Black coat coloration, or melanism, is a trait that is occasionally seen in coyotes in the Southeast, although it is rarely exhibited by coyotes elsewhere.  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. This suggests that the trait could have found its way into the southeastern coyote gene pool through past hybridizations with wolves.

Learning more about the occurrence and genetics of this trait can potentially provide further insight into the evolutionary history of coyotes.

Southeastern Naturalist

“Melanistic Coyotes in Northwest Georgia,” Southeastern Naturalist, 2014

Melanistic Coyotes in Northwest Georgia

In 2014, our project published a paper on coyote melanism in the journal Southeastern Naturalist after encountering nearly a dozen of these animals over the past decade.  The journal’s cover photo of a melanistic coyote was taken on the Berry College campus by Melanie Abney.  Click on the photo to get a pdf of the article.

Have you seen a black coyote?

We are continuing to track the occurrence and location of melanistic coyotes, so if you ever see one and have photographic evidence of it, please let us know.  We are also collecting tissue samples from these animals whenever possible and can provide detailed instructions along with tissue collecting kits.  If you ever have access to a melanistic coyote, even if it’s one that has been killed by a vehicle collision, we would also ask you to contact us.

Melanistic Coyote

Video courtesy Henry Wagner

© 2020 Atlanta Coyote Project