After careful review of the best scientific and commercial information available, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined coyotes do not meet the statutory and regulatory criteria for listing as endangered or threatened due to similarity of appearance to the endangered Mexican wolf.
The Service received a petition to list the coyote as endangered under the Endangered Species Act due to similarity of appearance in January 2023, prompting the Service to consider the requirements for designating coyotes as endangered based on a similarity of appearance to the Mexican wolf as a rulemaking action under the Administrative Procedures Act.
In its evaluation, the Service found the coyote did not meet any of the three criteria required to make a similarity of appearance designation:
- Their degree of resemblance is not significant enough to render the species indistinguishable, and law enforcement personnel do not have substantial difficulty in differentiating between Mexican wolves and coyotes.
- Since differentiation between the two species is not substantially difficult for law enforcement, this is not an additional threat to the Mexican wolf’s survival and recovery, as illegal take can be investigated and legal action taken.
- A designation would not substantially further the enforcement and policy of the ESA.
“Mistaken identity accounts for only a small portion of Mexican wolf mortalities,” said Brady McGee, the Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Coordinator. “Listing coyotes under the Endangered Species Act would have a minimal impact on Mexican wolf recovery, while imposing an extreme burden on law enforcement, affecting their ability to protect the Mexican wolf in Arizona and New Mexico.”
The Service remains committed to reducing the threat of human caused mortality to Mexican wolves through education and outreach to those living in the Mexican wolf recovery area.
America’s fish, wildlife, and plant resources belong to all of us, and ensuring the health of imperiled species is a shared responsibility. We are working to actively engage conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species.
Today’s announcement comes as the ESA turns 50 years old in 2023. Throughout the year, the Department of the Interior will celebrate the ESA's importance in preventing imperiled species' extinction, promoting the recovery of wildlife and conserving the habitats upon which they depend. The ESA has been highly effective and credited with saving 99% of listed species from extinction. Thus far, more than 100 species of plants and animals have been delisted based on recovery or reclassified from endangered to threatened based on improved conservation status, and hundreds more species are stable or improving thanks to the collaborative actions of Tribes, federal agencies, state and local governments, conservation organizations and private citizens.