A look back

The Coyote Cam started as a lark some few years back but only this year has it evolved into a concerted effort to study Coyotes and their habitats. The following is a simplistic overview of how Coyotes came to be in our neighborhoods. A few things about Coyotes are fact; Coyotes adapt, Coyotes thrive where other animals fail, and Coyotes will always be with us. It is hoped that the sharing of this material will provide some Coyote knowledge to all who follow this blog.  Coyotes are not going away, learning to coexist is a better alternative.

Long before civilization began to intrude on wild life Coyotes had a few predators- mainly wolves, mountain lions and some times, bobcats. Life was good for the Coyote as they would often feast on animals killed by the larger predators. Unfortunately, the Coyote became the next meal when those larger predators returned to reclaim their kills. The Coyotes soon understood that in order to survive they would need to expand their food sources to avoid being eaten themselves. Avoiding those larger predators the Coyote developed stealth or as some call it – shape sifting. Coyotes are stealthy but stealthy only goes so far when you are hungry. The Coyotes were not picky eaters then or now so the smaller game population of rabbits and squirrels provided an alternative to hazardous left over carcasses. Not only were the smaller game less attractive to the wolves, mountain lions and bobcats but the squirrels and rabbits often had larders of seeds and berries. The Coyotes learned that rabbits and squirrels equated to seeds and berries which could be another food source in difficult times.

About the time civilization (farmers & ranchers) showed up Coyotes found that their predators were disappearing. Any time ranchers and farmers lost livestock it wasn’t the lowly little Coyote’s fault, it was the larger predators killing the livestock. If a framer or rancher could shoot anything with four legs it was probably going to be the larger predators – wolves, mountain lions and bobcats.  To put it simply, the Coyote saw and learned that when man showed up it was hiding time.  The Coyote had a long history of being stealthy and it was probably that trait that saved the species for years to come.  As the Coyote’s predators were thinned out by man the Coyotes expanded into new territories and thrived. New and larger hunting areas, better den sites, larger families.  Life was good.

Life was good as long as agriculture was the core industry of the Coyote’s environment.  Alas, the world was evolving. Agriculture was giving way to manufacturing – the new industry! Some ranchers and farmers found that they could sell off some of their acreage to developers and acquire more land further away from cities.  As more and more land was being converted to home sites there was less and less agriculture, man was moving into the Coyote’s neighborhood.  Barely a hundred years has passed and man is living in what used to be the Coyotes backyard, a few generations later and man is now the Coyote’s next door neighbor.  Wait a minute here – man is at the hierarchy of life so why is it that man is considered the new entity on the Coyote’s block?  Current media reports that Coyotes are appearing in our neighborhoods so how is it that Man is considered “the new guy on the Coyote’s block?”  At first this new arrival was more deadly then the Coyote’s former predators.  Hunting territory was cut into fenced off lots, vegetation which provided concealment for the Coyote was cut down and replaced by roads. Vehicles that traveled the roads killed Coyotes (and their prey) in large numbers.  Coyotes are resilient, they remembered what it was like to be hunted. The Coyote retreated into the background but they did not go away!  Their numbers were fewer because both their hunting territories and available den sites were being reduced as humans built ever larger homes.

Ah – but the humans brought with them pets and backyard feeders. In addition to those pet and backyard feeders Coyotes found that many humans threw out uneaten foods – garbage? By golly these humans are good neighbors after all, they build city parks around their homes! The trees in the park grow old, the old trees have hollows and cavities good for dens.  Some previous Coyote hunting grounds were being converted into human entertainment, baseball parks, football stadiums and best of all – huge parking lots like the one at Solder Stadium in Chicago. The Coyote Cam reader will remember that Soldier Stadium is also home to a family of Coyotes.  Looks like the good times have returned if you are a Coyote.

Get out there and enjoy a walk this Spring!

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