Just how big are Pennsylvania coyotes?
Almost every year I hear stories about the friend of a friend who shot or trapped a monster coyote.
Each year for the past 10, I have reported on the many organized hunts held across the state. With thousands of dollars up for grabs, if 60 and 70-pound coyotes existed, they would surely show up at these contests. This year, for example, the top weights at 11 hunts that reported were:
- 46.5 pounds — District 9 PA Trappers
- 37.0 pounds — Woodcock Valley
- 46.9 pounds — Endless Mountain
- 39.6 pounds — Jerome Sportsmen
- 47.5 pounds — Lake Edinboro
- 45.5 pounds — Ellsworth Sportsmen
- 41.1 pounds — Cresson Sportsmen
- 46.6 pounds — Colver Sportsmen
- 44.4 pounds — Port Clinton
- 40.0 pounds — Laurel Highlands
- 48.1 pounds — Sullivan County
These 11 coyotes represent the winners out of 256 coyotes entered from across the state. The District 9 Pennsylvania Trappers Association computes the average weight of all coyotes entered in its late January hunt. This year the average of the 45 coyotes entered in their contest was 36.54 pounds – a far cry from even 50 pounds.
Mosquito Creek Sportsmen’s Association – the state’s largest and longest-running hunt – has the biggest prizes and therefore the largest body of data. In February, a hunter won with a 53-pound coyote that was shot in Venango County. This was the hunt’s heaviest coyote ever – topping their previous “big dog” by over one-and-a-half pounds.
That Mosquito Creek record is out of more than 2,200 coyotes turned in from more than 40 counties during the 27 years of their hunt. Looking at Mosquito Creek’s statistics, only eight coyotes have ever weighed 50 pounds or more. Those eight coyotes represent less than one half of one percent (or less than 1 out of 200) of the total coyotes ever entered.
Does Pennsylvania harbor coyotes that weigh over 50 pounds? Yes, but they are very rare. Some years none are reported at any of the more than 20 hunts.
Is there a 60-pounder out there? Maybe, but I doubt it.
A 70-pounder? No way.