First, a disclaimer is required here. This writer has always been an outdoor sportsman which includes hunting and fishing. In conjunction with being an outdoor sportsman we all need to recognize that predators come in all sorts of packages; fin, fowl and animal (both the two legged and four legged varieties). It is my belief that good stewardship includes land as well as wildlife! A well maintained wildlife environment provides a shelter against encroaching humans and conversely, predators from wondering neighborhoods.
The end of 2017 saw an uptick in the number of Coyote attacks, a lot of those attacks were fatal to family pets. This blog has long talked about the number of Coyotes being encountered in usually non-wildlife areas (think neighborhoods here). This blog has recounted the number of state, county and city agencies discouraging folks from feeding wild life yet a few people still see mangy Coyotes as hungry and in need of feeding. Television and newspapers note with regularity the number of Coyote and human pet interactions in gruesome details. One would think the Coyote is right up there with national enemy number 1.
Conversely, there are a number of groups through out the United States that advocate saving the Coyote. Just this past Sunday in the Albuquerque Journal a column entitled Coyote-killing contest riles somemight suggest that stopping cruel and insensitive Coyote killing contests ought to be the law as it is in some other states. OK, lets not paint all citizens with one brush. We are not all trying to save the Coyote – ask any pet owner who has witnessed their family (member) pet being killed by a Coyote. The majority of those folks see a need to eradicate the neighborhood Coyotes. Leave the city limits and there will be another person that has no need of the Coyote, those in the agricultural industry. Farmers and ranchers not only loose family pets to Coyotes but they loose a part of their income to Coyote predation. Cattle and sheep fare the worse loses due to Coyote attacks because currently, there are few other predators other wise – losses would be far greater! As any veterinarian can attest, Coyote attacks are often expensive to treat. A sheep or cow being much larger becomes even more expensive to treat.
Why has the Coyote become so infamous – in one word, humans. An ever growing population of humans is forcing wildlife into smaller and smaller parcels of land. Humans have paved roads into the lands once dominated only by wildlife. These roads create a quasi type of wildlife fence, cross it at the wrong moment and death is instantaneous. Those lands parceled by roads are also drained thereby eliminating sources of drinking water for wildlife as well the environment of water fowl. Wetlands, once home to water fowl are fast becoming construction sites. Say what you will, we humans are the ones encroaching on wildlife! OK, the point of no return has not been reached . . . yet! There are still areas where wild life abounds but that area is diminishing in size every day. The last place a Coyote wants to be is out on a ranch or farm, their life spans are limited out there! Much safer are the city neighborhoods where humans provide food that doesn’t have to be hunted and shelter that doesn’t require preparation or maintenance. Go ahead and leave those pet food bowls outside, be sure the backyard fountains are running and by all means don’t bother covering those garbage cans. Birdfeeders should be filled to over flowing so not only birds but squirrels come to visit.
Thanks for your readership!
Stay tuned – there is more to come on the Coyote Cam
It appears someone in Arlington Heights, Ill thinks they need to support their local wildlife – WRONG! Neighbors are up in arms as one of their own is suspected of feeding “home cooked meals” then leaving said meal under a nearby tree for the local Coyotes. What is wrong with these folks? It is not just this Blog warning about the problems with desensitizing Coyotes but many state ordinances do prohibit the feeding of wildlife for that very reason. The ideal situation is to haze or make the Coyote’s life miserable hoping that it will seek other locations for their feeding and den sites. Maybe some law abiding citizen in that neighborhood has their home security cameras trained on the tree drop off. Lets help stop well intended BUT totally misguided folks from doing the wrong thing – Do Not Feed The Wild Life!
Unfortunately, in Northern New Jersey (Saddle River) a woman was out walking her dog one evening this month when confronted by a “pack” of Coyotes. The article does not describe how many Coyotes were in the pack but suffice it to say the word “pack” suggests there were more then two. Here in the southwest Coyotes do not normally hunt in packs but rather family groups (four to five) specifically during this time of the Coyote’s life cycle. Coyote parents are teaching their pups/youngsters to hunt thus their numbers might suggest a pack. The article does not mention what type of Coyote comprised the “pack.” Another intriguing problem on the east coast is that the standard Coyote there is a good deal heavier then the standard Coyote found here in the southwest. Add to that larger size an even larger Coyote easterners refer to as a “Coywolf” (65% Coyote, 25% Wolf and 10% Dog) and now the animal becomes very intimidating! Thus, these two factors, the size and number of animals confronted would cause anyone to be alarmed let alone an older woman walking her small dog at twilight.
– Coywolf –
Just to remind everyone reading this issue – be prepared when you go out for a walk with or without your pet. Even if you don’t require a cane to walk get into the habit of carrying a big stick for those daily/evening walks! Most animals met on the street (with the exception of the two-legged variety) are frightened by something larger then they are – waive your “big stick” and arms in the air, yell “go away.” Keep yelling and waiving your arms pretty soon the animal will retreat or run off plus you stand a fair chance of attracting other humans to your predicament. Anything that makes a lot of noise is good thing too, some one mentioned canned-air horns! A coach’s whistle will work and may be a tad less expensive in the long run. Believe it or not a soda can filled with rocks makes a great rattle noise and has been used to scare off Coyotes.
That brings this week’s edition of the Coyote Cam to a close. Be sure to look for the upcoming edition of the Coyote Cam when we look into recent sightings of “Zombie Dogs.” Yes, ghosts and hobgoblins are not scheduled until later during Halloween but apparently these apparitions are making an early appearance!
Stay tuned, there is more to come on the Coyote Cam.
Readers should know that the majority of material for this blog is gathered from various media then offered up for discussion. This author makes every attempt to cite sources as well in some cases, embed the original document in the blog. Carrying on with this year’s focus on rural Coyotes it seems there are fewer instances of interaction with humans involved in agriculture being reported. No, it is not that there are fewer occurrences. Remember that the agriculture industry looses livestock to predators almost on a daily basis. Therefore, the industry has to allocate resources to either eliminate or diminish those losses to a negligible level. Agricultural loss control mechanisms do not rise to the level of neighborhood pets being taken by predators. Instead, those in the agriculture industry consider the Coyote just another daily chore to be dealt with and entered as an expense item in their financial planning. The media is not interested in those mundane agricultural chores but does rely on the old adage – “if it bleeds it leads.”
A recent “Idaho State Journal” news article describes a young man loosing his dog and suffering an injury due to cyanide gas exposure from an M44 predator control mechanism. Only the local television station in Idaho Falls carried the story in conjunction with the “Journal.” No other regional or national news media made mention of the story as of the date of this posting. It seems that if any regional or national coverage of predator control comes about is when a certain segment of society deems it so. What does this say about the news media?
After a few months of watching the evening news this viewer notes that the major networks offer news of the day ending with a warm / feel good story. Intriguing how some ninety percent of network evening news is followed by ten percent or less of feel good stories. An Emu being chased by several good Samaritans or a young bear swimming in some one’s back yard pool – Not that those articles aren’t interesting but who determines what feel good story is to be offered? Several teams must spend some time in selecting the subjects but what are their guidelines to providing a positive end to their daily presentations? There are policies which provide guidance to these folks that put together the daily news in its entirety but who wrote the original policies? Are those policies ever reviewed to ensure they are in conformity with today’s wants or needs?
Coyotes in agriculture or Coyotes in the neighborhood? One thing for sure the Coyote is not wanted in either environment. How does either of those stories end? For the Coyote the story will always be stealth and adaptation to elude its stalkers. For the humans living in the rural countryside the Coyote’s fate is sealed. For the Coyotes in the city / urban / suburban neighborhoods their fate is determined by how aggressive they become. What does this say then? Depending on city ordinances Coyotes are better off living in town then on the farm! Will the Coyote be the lead story on the evening news or will it be that feel good ending to your day?
Stay tuned – there is more to come on the Coyote Cam
The number of family run American farm and ranch numbers are dwindling being replaced in large part by corporate commercial operations. Every year sees another farmer or rancher taking a second job to augment their agriculture careers. In addition, financially they are being forced to sell off land as it becomes more valuable as a sub-development rather then for growing crops or raising livestock. Other factors to consider are the stigma of not only trying to protect ones animals against predators but the harvesting of agriculture animals. More and more animal protection groups only see suffering animals in rural America, no comments about the need for production of protein products! Meanwhile, consumers only complain when their grocery store / market prices increase.
Through out American history farmers and ranchers have tried several methods to eliminate predation
Most “leg traps” were used by trappers in order to preserve as much of the animal pelt as was possible. Farmers and ranchers knew that the leg traps could be used very effectively against large predators as well and additionally, the pelt provided another source of revenue. However, the leg traps could and did trap livestock. It wasn’t until later that poisons were used though there were as many negative side effects as there were positive ones!
First came the neck strap packet of poison. Most predators attack their victims by clamping their jaws on the victim’s neck. The action of clamping down on the neck strap released a poison into the attacker’s mouths. Unfortunately, the animal wearing the neck strap most always died or was severely injured! Loosing livestock is not a good thing so another delivery system that did not kill or maim the livestock was needed.
The ground delivery system as its name implies is buried in the ground with the top “bait” portion exposed. The “bait” is treated with a predator attractant. The system is powered to thrust the bait and poison into the animal’s mouth and throat when it is clamped down on and tugged. No livestock are harmed and the predator is eliminated. However, the unintended consequences of poisons is that it doesn’t stop with the intended recipient. Most of the poisons used were supposed to be fast acting but many factors did not make it so. The varmints would devour their meal then wonder off and die. The poisoned predator would eventually be consumed by (vultures) other carnivores who in turn were poisoned by the tainted predator, the poison kept on working through multiple exposures!
Several media comments and or “Letters to the Editor” espouse support for hunting but then oppose trapping or the use of “mechanical calling techniques.” The “conflicted hunters” then make a scary statement about the “carnage” resulting from Coyote Hunting Contests often including pictures of multiple dead coyotes. The one thing the contest opponents fail to mention is that the system far out weighs what had gone on before. Ever watch a poisoned animal die? A shooter can and does discriminate targets making the coyote the only animal that is eliminated! As long as his livestock are not shot few ranchers / farmers are too concerned about the sudden decline in the number of four legged predators.
Stay tuned there is more to come on the Coyote Cam.
The hierarchy of nature dictates that prevailing weather will control the environment which then dictates the level of animal habitation. Early Europeans settling in the US found hearty soil capable of growing more crops with not near the exertion required in their home lands. Growing seasons were longer and in most cases more moderate. Clear out a few trees and mend the rocky soil and abundant crops would result! The cattle ranchers did not need to bend their back to the soil but instead required open prairies with a plentiful water supply. While these two life styles would seem dissimilar in fact animals were needed on the farm – milk cows, chickens and heavier animals for plowing. Humans have noted that domesticated animals thrive when they are grazed rather then being fed. Healthy livestock fare better in transportation then animals simply fed Yes, livestock are fattened up in feed lots but grazing makes for more durable animals! Where ever you find livestock you will find predators ready to stalk them, it is nature. The sad part of nature is that when humans interfere nature suffers. Interference is not part of nature yet humans continually try to alter the outcome nature has set in motion.
Predators are born with a sense of smell far more advanced then others. Don’t forget that dogs and cats are predators too. Ever notice how they can sense food left out on a counter? Back to the wilds – bears, large cats and canines can smell other animals in distress. In as much as bears, large cats and wolfs are pretty well hunted out that leaves the Coyote. Livestock placentas are extremely motivating as a predator food source. Earlier on in this blog’s history a rancher was interviewed in relation to a Coyote Hunting Contest and she related the following story in support of the contests. The rancher knew one of her cows was in the final stage of delivering. As most cows do they try to find a spot away from the others to give birth. The rancher found the cow and watched a calf being born. From out of the bush a Coyote appeared and went after the half born calf. The birthing cow could not do anything in defense as the calf was not fully delivered. The rancher said she didn’t have a gun but did her best to scare the Coyote off. Unfortunately, the Coyote had a firm hold on the unborn calf and during the struggle between the cow, the Coyote and the rancher- the unborn calf was fatally injured. The struggle proved to be too much for the cow as well, she died from shock and loss of blood a bit later. The rancher lost not just the calf but the cow as well. This is not an isolated story either, all domesticated animals are subject to the same fate. Coyotes do not kill for sport but to satisfy hunger and they are aggressive during that activity.
This brings us back to the opening comments.
Look up Coyote Hunting Contests and there will be a few internet sites advocating the sport yet many, many more suggesting the Contests are nothing more then legalized mass animal killings. Passing through the western and southwestern part of the United States the visitor will find an agrarian environment, long and empty miles of nothing but cattle or sheep. Often you can travel for several hours and never see another vehicle. Yet, just like others east of the Mississippi ranchers and farmers dread losing the extra help directly and indirectly provided by the state. Just like the loss of family produce farms will eventually impact everyone’s kitchen so too will the loss of livestock. It is time to take a realistic look at animal predation before it is too late.
Stay tuned, there is more to come on the Coyote Cam!
For some time this blog has been dedicated to urban interaction with Coyotes.A few readers asked why not look at the Coyote from the other side?The urban Coyote has a comfortable life compared to the suburbs or worse yet, rural lands.For the remainder of this year (2017) we will shift our focus to Coyote survival in rural areas.The farmer’s and rancher’s lively hood is at stake every day with weather as the primary detriment and livestock predation a close second.The USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service is referenced for this and other articles. Sheep and lamb mortality can be as high as 80 percent in some cases almost entirely due to Coyote predation.Cattle are much larger and hence their size poses a problem for Coyotes but not one that can’t be over come.The young and sick have always been targets for predators and cattle are no exception.Cattle ranchers constantly struggle with predation and calving operations are extremely vulnerable to the coyote when mom and dad coyote are teaching their pups!When the average size livestock loss is running over $50,000 per year something has to be done.Fare warning here, the following material may not be suitable for all readers.
When Buffalo roamed the American prairies the Wolf, for many years, reigned supreme as the canine alpha predator!The lowly Coyote learned to survive using stealth and cunning to evade the Wolf as well other predators.Alas, as the human migration pushed ever westward the Wolf was hunted to the verge of extinction.Trappers and commercial hunters severely reduced wild life populations (think buffalo) but it was the settlers who had the most detrimental impact on the alpha predator population!Farmers and ranchers saw the Wolf, Mountain Lion and Bear as the primary reason for livestock losses!As a result the Coyote’s primary nemesis was eliminated and the Coyote’s hunting territory expanded as well as his reproductive activity.Interestingly, many studies have shown that Coyotes live about six to eight years in the wild.Conversely, in captivity Coyotes can live twelve plus years.Other studies found that during the least stressful periods wild Coyote pups survival averages around one or two pups out of six.Amazingly, when external pressures exist (hunting or higher level predators) pup survival can be 100 percent.In the case of elevated pressures suggestions are that with the removal of the adult Coyotes the pups have more on which to survive.
Coyote hunting contests have been around for years although on a smaller scale following the demise of the Coyote’s predators.
The agriculture community would come together to hunt the Coyotes as needed.Returning home to the Southwest part of the country in the late 60s a few ex-helicopter pilots found new jobs shooting Coyotes with a shotgun from their low flying helicopters.
The Coyote Cam reader has probably heard of the “Duck Call,” “Goose Call,” and a “Turkey Call,”The next advance in Coyote Hunting came with the mechanical Coyote Call.Coyote Calling has become big business as there are no licenses required to hunt the Coyote.
Today, Coyote Hunting has become a contest to see who can harvest the maximum numbers of Coyotes over a given weekend with a trophy or reward given out.Several gun shops around the southwest, in conjunction with a few farmers and ranchers, have devised an annual Coyote Hunting Contest.What is interesting is that even after these events the next season’s Coyote population shows little, if any, reduction in numbers.
Stay tuned, there is more to come on the Coyote Cam.