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Urban Coyotes 100% Monogamous, Says New Study From Ohio State University

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COYOTE MONOGAMY
Stan Gehrt, wildlife ecologist at Ohio State University, poses with an coyote that was captured (and later released) as part of a study on coyote mating habits. | Ohio State University

These coyotes are no dogs.

Scientists with Ohio State University took genetic samples of 236 Chicago-area coyotes over a period of six years, and found no evidence that any coyote was unfaithful to a mate, Science Daily reports.

This is a big deal, as researchers have come to expect at least some infidelity from, well, basically every species out there.

“I was surprised we didn’t find any cheating going on," said co-author Stan Gehrt, according to a statement released by OSU this week. He added many animals previously believed to be monogamous, like arctic foxes and mountain bluebirds, ended up being plain-old philanderers when studied closely.

City living in particular usually does a number on canine relationships. Other members of the dog family become more promiscuous in population-dense urban environments, according to Live Science.

Chicago coyotes, though, have reaped the benefits of resisting temptation. The abundance of food in the area allows females to have large litters, which she would likely have trouble raising alone.

"The male spends just as much time helping to raise those pups as the female does," Gehrt said. Because a father coyote knows each of the pups is his own, he has a genetic stake in helping them survive.

In addition to being faithful partners and great parents, coyotes are also downright adorable couples. During the period of time that a female can become pregnant, mates "will spend all their time together," said Cecilia Hennessy, senior author of the study. "Running, finding food, marking their territory. They’ll always be right at each other’s side."

Rural coyotes have not been studied, but scientists hypothesize that they are likely similarly monogamous, Sun News Network reports, since they would have fewer opportunities to cheat than their city-dwelling cousins.

On the other hand, maybe the Chicago coyotes were just on their best behavior because they knew they were being watched.

The study appears in a recent issue of The Journal of Mammalogy.

CLARIFICATION: The coyote in the photo is alive and has not been harmed. According to the OSU statement:

"The scientists used live traps - either padded foothold traps or non-choking neck snares - to catch the coyotes for the study, although pups were simply dug from their dens and held by hand. Small blood and tissue samples were taken from all the animals. The adults, which were anesthetized, also were fitted with radio-collars for tracking their movements and ranges. Afterward, all the coyotes were released where they were caught."

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Study: Urban Coyotes Are 100% Monogamous - Neatorama

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Not Dogs: Urban Coyotes Remain Monogamous - LiveScience