Coyote? Where?

Look around!  You may not see them but you will know the Coyotes were there if you pay attention to the ground.  Are there any paw prints, footprints or tracks?  Not a tracker you say, ground is too hard for a visible impression, wouldn’t know a Coyote print from a domestic dog / wolf / fox?  The paw print is a good place to start- the following table will help you spot more then just the Coyote’s presence.  The accompany table is not drawn to scale but approximate lengths from toe to heel are included in the drawings.  Courtesy of Desert USA

Paw prints to look for-
Paw prints to look for-

Lets start with the table, notice that the Coyote paw print is considerably smaller then the Wolf’s and somewhat smaller then that of the Large Dog’s print.  The smallest print is that of the Red Fox though most city dwellers will not see that species especially if Coyotes are present.  Having said that it seems a small community named Waverly just outside of Winnipeg Manitoba Canada is now seeing Coyotes where once only the Fox hunted.  Adapt or perish?  Also in the above table, notice that the two front, inner toes of the Coyote actually turn inward and toward one another.  That trait sets the Coyote apart from its cousins almost as much as anything can.  In addition to the tracks all animals leave their calling card in the form of droppings.  In as much as most domesticated animals are fed prepared foods their droppings do not contain the remains found in Coyote droppings such as bones or remnants of prior meals.  Unfortunately, undigested dog and cat collars have been found in Coyote droppings!  References suggest Coyote droppings are found on or near the perimeter of their hunting grounds which helps to mark their territory.  Look in the center of or along the side of walking paths for twisted / knotted droppings (scat), this is usually a Coyote though other animals do have similar droppings.  The droppings and identifiable tracks together will mark the passing of a Coyote in the immediate area.  So many cities have removed the larger predators that the Coyote has easily taken over the now pavement lined hunting grounds.  Oh, that’s right- a few humans leave their garbage unsecured meaning a buffet of easy pickings.  All of us contribute in some form or another to the survivability of Coyotes.  Bird feeders and water fountains supply the basic needs for more then just birds.  Rabbits and squirrels make their homes close to feeders and available water, this allows the Coyotes a little diversity in their diets.  It may be time to re-evaluate the location of those bird feeders and to possibly elevate that fountain higher off the ground and away from vegetation.

Bottom line for Coyote prevention- if your pets and or wild life would eat it so will the Coyote.  If the Coyote has acclimated to finding food at specific locations such as the pet’s food bowl in your backyard and it is not available then the next best thing for the Coyote is the family pet.   Keep garbage containers securely covered, pet food bowls inside, accompany pets outside, on a short leash when exercising and always, always carry a big stick (tongue in cheek credit to Teddy Roosevelt).

Another episode of the Coyote Cam is at an end but stay tuned, there is more Coyote News on the way.


Frozen ground prevents tracks but the camera records a passage

The week ended with a number of coyote sightings and unfortunately, heightened coyote aggression against a mother and her young daughter in the Southern California community of Ladera Ranch.  The story goes on to say the coyote then followed up by attacking and killing two dogs in the same neighborhood.

National Geographic has even gotten into observing movements of uber-urban coyotes.

As reported in The Chicago Tribune, dated January 15th, 2015 Wildlife Ecologist, Stan Gehrt and several associates retained by National Geographic monitored coyotes living in Chicago during the years 2013 and 2104.  Gehrt and crew used “crittercams” and GPS to track some of the coyotes around and through the Chicago city limits.  The study found that coyotes managed to negotiate heavily traveled streets and forage with little to no human intervention.  The monitored coyotes often sat motionless as humans walked within just feet of the hiding coyote.  The coyotes raised litters and survived reasonably well even under the Chicago Bears stadium parking lot.

Lots of media reports including the Albuquerque Journal reflect an increase in the number of coyote sightings.  But is it really an increase in the coyote population?  Maybe not- it could well be that the coyote population has been there all along and it is the human population that has increased hence more sightings.  As pointed out by the Journal’s reporter, Winthrop Quigley Albuquerque contains within its city limits several miles of the Rio Grande River and its ecosystem.  This ecosystem not only supports coyotes but other animals and birds not normally associated with city life.  From the previous Chicago article coyotes have evolved within large metropolitan areas to not just survive but thrive.

Why would human urban and city dwellers believe the wild life found in the country is not be able to exist along side of them?  One thing is certain, nature abhors a vacuum!  Invariably, when coyotes are hunted down almost as many will escape and go on to breed and expand into those now vacant territories.  The coyote has proven itself to be wily and one of the better survivors in or out of the city!  Just outside of our back fence is an abundance of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acreage.  An arroyo runs from west to east toward the Rio Grande River through the adjacent BLM land.  The arroyo is a virtual highway mostly populated by coyotes.  The temperatures have been cold at night warming during the day, frozen night time ground doesn’t produce many tracks though.  The Coyote Cam has some great day light shots but work is needed to improve the night photographs.  Every one have a great week and be sure to check that shadow moving along side you in the bushes.

Stay tuned there is more to come from the Coyote Cam!01160017 01160015 01160012 01100006

Where have they gone?

A family at work
A family at work

I recently read an article “Coyotes have expanded their range” dated Dec. 23, 2014 in The Courier.

Living in Rio Rancho, NM not far from the Rio Grande River we often see many different varmints walking / running through our subdivision.  A few Christmases back I received a “Trail Camera” as a present, I knew right away where the camera should be hung.  At first there were four-legged visitors (of the Coyote persuasion) regularly stopping by the back fence.  The first photographs taken in late 2012 reflected multiple coyotes, typically parents teaching their pups to hunt.  Another external sign of coyote presence- we receive our mail via a common pedestal stand and it is normal to see pictures of “lost pets” with the date of disappearance and the lost pet’s name with a telephone number to call.  In those early days it was not uncommon to see three, four or more notices taped to the stand.  However, for some reason the “lost pet” notices taped to the stands have diminished in numbers these days.  During a walk through the neighborhood there seemed to be fewer homes with pets which may be the reason the coyote populations appear to be decreasing.  This would seem to be in line with the fact that (as noted in the above article) pets and their food bowls are standard targets for the urban coyote.  There has only been one lone coyote photographed these days!

The above article notes that the coyote has spread its territory but do you know how wide its territory has expanded?  The coyote has been trapped as far north as Alaska and seen in old Mexico even all the way down to Columbia?  Some number of years back, Outdoor Life and The Anchorage News carried a story about a bear attack on coyote trappers.

Having a strong interest in coyote stories I scan the internet and news media for sightings, stalkings and attacks.  The last two years, maybe longer,  have shown a steady increase in the number of validated coyote attacks on humans. Colorado saw a coyote attack on a three year old boy playing in the presence of his parent.  Coyotes used to be intimidated by humans but now view us as just being in the way of their food supplies. Colorado, California and New Hampshire are beginning to report numerous such attacks,

Where have they gone?  Probably not far they are just out of sight for now.

Stay tuned, we will see what tomorrow brings.