Domestic Predator, The Housecat?

Any reader of this blog knows that Coyotes are predators but did you know that the family cat can be more of a cold blooded killer then the Coyote?  Recent reports from biologists suggest that the common household cat is directly responsible for killing more then 1.4 to 3.7 billion birds each year and perhaps an equal number of small mammals.  Granted, Tabby’s eat only some thirty percent of their assaults. More likely as not, they play with their victims first then offer the sometimes still moving target to the family household as a trophy.  Nonetheless, the family cat is hazardous to all avian life!

CBS News ran an article comprised of studies done by the University of Georgia and National Geographic.  A kitty cam (miniaturized video recorder) was used during these studies and recorded things never before seen in the life of the average household cat.  Several important facts came to light that support the powers of the household cat’s predator abilities which, is seen more graphically in its larger cousins.  First, the article determined that there are some 60 million domestic cats alive in the United States. Second, a study of the cat’s physical anatomy determined that felines are well suited for the life of a predator.  The cat’s body from tail to nose has the widest flexibility of all animals.  A cat’s paw can articulate much like that of the human wrist and hand, dogs can not perform this act.  The retractable claws and padded paws allows the cat to silently stalk its prey.  The cat’s spine can be 180 degrees out of alignment with no lingering effects.  In addition to its flexible back, the front half of a cat’s body operates independently permitting faster sprints and turns then dogs.  So why do I bring up the seemingly superior family cat in a blog about Coyotes?

A family at work
A family at work

Reports of Coyote habitation compared to the number of cats present in the same locations suggest that for what ever reason, cats do not thrive. Said another way, if Coyotes are present cats tend not to be present.  Field studies reflect that cats stop hunting when Coyotes are around though not in every case.  Cats that do manage to co-exist do so in the immediate vicinity of their homes.  Apparently, cats understand their home turf provides some degree of security.  While, in outlying areas and away from their home turf the cat’s security is less certain.  One theory has it that while it is fine to be faster in short bursts when there is more then one hunter it may not be a great enough advantage for the cat.  Coyotes are often seen as loners but during and for some time after pups are born Mom and Dad are teaching the pups how to hunt.  The family forms a pack and hunts together until the pups are about eight to ten months old.  Though there are no formal studies on the subject this author believes it is during this cycle that family cats begin to disappear.  During daily walks of late Spring and into mid-summer it seems that pictures of missing cats become more numerous.  The Coyote pups begin to range farther and farther from their family den eventually establishing their own dens and hunting areas.  The original Coyote pair start their mating cycle anew ending their attachment to the former pups / now mature adult Coyotes.  Could it be that we have the Coyote to thank for protecting migrating birds and other wildlife?  More studies into this area of Coyote predation are needed!

Stay tuned, there is more to come on the Coyote Cam!

Advertisements

Seems Strange

Of the many things one might assume is that Coyotes will survive but something strange has taken place.   Has the story of Bobcat and Coyote confrontation been accurately reported?  Seems a report from South Carolina would suggest that Bobcats are actively intervening and stopping Coyote encroachment.  For the complete story see the following link:

http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20160118/PC16/160119456/bobcats-the-coyotes-x2019-nemesis

On the other hand another story exhibits why Coyotes have survived.  Coyotes make every day a learning experience, they adapt to their surroundings.  From the moment a Coyote pup comes into this world they are learning two skills, where and what to eat to finding shelter.  Along that path to survival Coyotes exhibit the single most important rule for obtaining food and shelter:  “He that fights and runs away, May turn and fight another day; But he that is in battle slain, Will never rise to fight again.” Tacitus

Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/tacitus118925.html

Coyotes have the innate ability of knowing when to stand their ground and fight but also, when to run.  The following story gives a different view about Coyote learning though the story’s end is vague.  Nonetheless, this story provides yet another view of how Coyotes assimilate their surroundings.  Coyote versus Cougar – who comes out on top?

http://www.yellowstonegate.com/2013/04/elk-refuge-photos-capture-tense-standoff-between-mountain-lions-coyotes/

There we have two different Coyote stories.  One in which the Coyote seems to give up ground yet the second story might suggest the Coyote isn’t going anywhere.  All things considered, the Coyote will survive.  You may not see the Coyote out there but he / she is just beyond your view and they are watching, waiting and scheming for their opportunity to continue their survival.

Stay tuned there is more to come from the Coyote Cam.  Thanks for your readership!

Coyotes are not going away

Three different media reports provide a different perspective on Coyotes.

Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Alabama)

Detroit Free Press (Detroit, Michigan)

Finding the Right Track by Melissa Groo (Outdoor Photographer)

Good, Bad or Indifferent; Coyote contact has and will always be there. A few of these confrontations will result in injuries for animal or human and more often then not, both!  As has been mentioned several times in previous postings Coyotes are not a new problem.  These predators have lived in their present locations long before the rest of us arrived.  As the Winter of 2015 – 2016 comes to an end Coyotes enter their annual breeding cycle.  Also, it is during this cycle their hunting area expands in order to support the continuation of that species.  Pups from the previous year will be pushed out to fend for themselves and these now mature adults will attempt to establish their own territories.  Coyotes become more noticeable prowling closer to human habitats all the while exhibiting less fear of humans.

The confrontation between the Coyote and humans will occur whether it be urban or suburban. The obvious difference is that in an urban setting the human will be protecting livestock with the legal ability to kill predators.  Conversely, in almost all suburbs predators can only be hunted by a licensed agent and little if any killing of the predator is permitted on site.  Yes, there will be those suburbanites demanding that the varmint that killed “Fluffy” be destroyed.  However, many state laws protect predators and instead of disposing of the problem the problem is moved.  Some problems find their way back and only after a third confrontation is it possible to terminate the offending animal.

City parks provide a wonderful place to be outside and enjoy the day. Humans gather in these handy recreation sites with their children sunning, playing and having a picnic.  Most trash containers seen at these locations are nothing more then simple wire webbed bins, easy to pull food coated paper through late at night after the humans have gone home.  The paved parking lot or maintenance shacks often have depressions or holes under or in which to live.  Oh yes, across the street from the park is the neighborhood.  Birdfeeders, pet food bowls, Fluffy and Tabby plus the occasional firewood stack which offer both food and shelter to the suburban predator.   It is not a bad life wondering from the park to the less then manicured homes of humans.

Coyotes like all other predators go to where the food source and shelter is quick and easy. Predators do not stay where they are unwelcome.  Like the over eager photographer, the wild life subject will leave when pressure comes to bear.  That or the wild life will attack the lackadaisical photographer.  Coyotes will survive but where they choose to survive is the question.  If low but constant pressure is brought to bear Coyotes will find other hunting areas and move.  If the aim is to kill the Coyote off it wont happen as been made emphatically clear through out the majority of ranches and farms in this country.

Stay tuned – there is more to come on the Coyote Cam!