Policies on Coyotes?

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

Damned if you do, Damned if you don’t!

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

  bear-trap

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!

Livestock Protection Collar
Predator Control Device

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.

  M44 diagram

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.

Something is a foot

Perspective is every thing! A new camera and a different angle of view makes a lot of difference when trying to photograph Coyotes.

M2E3L1-1R350B320

OH – and the bait as well.

M2E1L0-1R350B320

In the past this blog has stressed what not to do such as leaving bird feeders unattended, letting debris and litter stack up on the ground. It draws bait – er . . I mean rodents and small game such as the rabbit pictured above.  As it turns out there are also plants that have seed and seed pods left over from the past summer.  This author has discovered that these seed sources not only draw small four legged game but birds as well.  Unfortunately, the birds draw household cats (pets maybe).  The trail camera kept recording cats but those random pictures just did not seem appropriate for a blog about Coyotes.  Talk about the wrong perspective!  Several articles presented here reflect that cats, along with small dogs are often Coyote fodder. But that is a story for another edition.  Back to the pictured rabbit.  Seems the Coyote was hot on the scent of the rabbit!  Several pictures show the rabbit then a few minutes later, the Coyote shows up with his nose to the ground as seen in the above picture.  Yes, one photo is dated several days before giving the impression the Coyote was a bit early.  Let us just say that they did cross paths and there is now one less rabbit in the neighborhood.  Last evening several Coyotes were howling away down by the river.  Maybe, it was because there is a newcomer to the Coyotes, an owl.

owl-on-the-roof

This bad boy (girl?) stood about two feet high and in flight, appeared to have a six foot wing span. The lighting was not what is pictured, it was actually late sunset / early evening. Very limited lighting at best.  For you photographers out there – Canon Rebel T3i, F 3.5, telephoto lens at 200mm and shutter speed around 125.  Post processing to clean up noise and finally, cropped to the subject.  OK – it was not the trail camera but who said wildlife was going to be on the trail camera only?  The Coyote Cam is attempting an improved photography mode in the coming months.  The advanced mode should drastically improve quality.

How was your Thanksgiving?

I hope it was a good one!

Stay tuned – there is more to come from the Coyote Cam.

Pumpkins and Autumn Leaves

Where has the time gone? In the last column this author noted that Halloween marks the beginning of a new episode in the life cycle of Coyotes.  Many of you will recall the cartoon character Wiley E. Coyote.  Born under the pen of Chuck Jones, Warner Brother’s Animation Department in 1948 Wiley Coyote celebrates his 68th birthday this year.  This blogger recalls his childhood days watching many ill fated chase scenes wherein the Coyote was this close to catching his arch nemesis the Roadrunner.  Unlike his real life counterpart Wiley E. Coyote resorted to all kinds of notorious means to catch the Roadrunner but frequently found himself blown-up and face down in the dirt!  It seems we may have a bit of Wiley E. Coyote in the Coyote Cam.  The original camera departed this earth several years ago and was replaced by Coyote Camera II.  Coyote Camera II crashed for unknown reasons this past summer and it too, was replaced.  Coyote Camera III started operating independently and was sent in for repairs as was briefly mentioned in a prior posting.  Coyote Camera III is now reported as missing in transit.  Apparently, Coyote Camera III was being shipped home along with someone’s New Year’s Fireworks Show when disaster struck. The shipping company reports the shipping trailer blew up following a wreck.  Local reporters said the inferno put on quite a show and that there was an extensive debris field surrounding the crater where the truck and trailer exploded.

One of the regular followers of the Coyote Cam sent the following link, give it a look.  “Coyote” by Don Williams.  Really expresses the true state of our favorite four legged varmint.  The Coyote has been around the United States for a long time, it has not only survived its prairie peers, it has thrived.  Many followers know that the Coyote began its life in the west central part of the continental United States and expanded its territory from coast to coast and as far north as Alaska and south into Central America.  This blog attempts to capture stories related to Coyotes and over the years of watching the internet has seen a rise in Coyote and human interactions.  Many city dwellers seem horrified when a Coyote is seen walking down a city street while urbanites tend to be less emotional, at least that is the perspective this author perceives.  It is not that urbanites are less attuned to the Coyote’s proximity but that they and rural citizens know it is easier to maintain a balance, the Coyote population will adjust to its environment.  More food, more Coyotes.  Less food, fewer Coyotes!  But it is not just the food that makes it easy or hard for Coyote survival, it is the presence of a habitat.  Food can be scouted out as long as there is a den for family life not far away.  Hard life has taught the Coyote many lessons and Mother Nature has provided the Coyote an innate sense of reproduction.

Oh Yeah – the latest Coyote Cam arrived (number IV), I am some what concerned as there are burn marks on one edge! At any rate, it was put up today, Friday the 11th of November.  There may or may not be pictures for the bi-weekly publication of the blog due out the 15th.  We will see, my bet is that a Coyote will show up and the camera will not catch it.  Kind of a reversal on Wiley E. Coyote if you catch the inference?

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

Every one have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Going for a walk?

In the last posting this blog reviewed a Los Angeles Times article describing a Coyote “attack” where-in three people were being treated for the possibility of rabies. This week,  another Coyote attack occurred but this time the Coyote tested positive for rabies and in of all places – Rhode Island.  The readers that follow this blog regularly can validate the multiple comments repeated through out that Coyotes are losing their fear of humans. Coyotes are becoming habituated.  Wildlife in a natural setting up close is most always a beautiful thing!  However, one should determine if the approaching animal has a strong curiosity or is sick.  A habituated animal can be confused with  an other wise sick animal, it is important to understand there is a  difference between the two.

If the animal appears to be struggling (awkward) without any obvious external injuries it is safe to assume that animal is probably sick and should be avoided. In any case the “sick” animal should be reported to authorities at the earliest convenience!  On the other hand, just because the approaching animal does not appear sick contact should always be discouraged.  Humans have differing attitudes in their relationships with wild life and unfortunately for the wild life not all humans have wild life’s best interest in mind.

In, The need for modern conservation efforts, an article written for New Mexico Wildlife.  The author, Zen Mocarski writes, “In the last 100 years, development has boomed, cities have grown and the connections people have with the outdoors has been replaced by the internet, shopping malls, movie theaters and home entertainment.”  What was once wilderness is fast being converted to undeveloped land meaning it is being viewed for investing purposes.  What was once wilderness will soon be either an urban housing project or industrial location.  The wild life that used to call that piece of land home may very well become homeless.  Coyotes (wild life), it is safe to say, have been pushed out of their homes by encroaching human developments.  Not only have we (you & I) made critters homeless we have contributed to their early demise.  How, you ask?  Providing access to our jobs and malls are highways which divide what was once wildlife’s home.  The fences that limit road crossings by animals traps the animals preventing escape from their predators.  Additionally, what few animals that make it past the fences become road kill and those numbers are climbing as the number of vehicles increases.  Don’t like seeing Coyotes in your neighborhood?  Then it is time to look around the country and see about better land management to prevent the loss of wildlife habitat!  Keep wildlife in the wilderness.

At the beginning of this post Coyotes were noted to have attacked humans inside neighborhoods or what should have been a safe place. Those attacks may not have been prevented but had precautions been taken, the severity of those attacks would have been reduced. Hiking in the back country, going for a walk around the block or just taking a stroll it is a good idea to be aware of the surroundings and carry something to discourage unwanted advances.  Serious thought should be given to using a walking stick because it not only provides stability it will provide a defense against unruly varmints (think Coyote here).  This blog does not endorse any products but offers the following for those who are unfamiliar with the concept of a walking stick as opposed to using a cane.  Walking sticks can be as decretive (expensive) as the heart desires depending on the craftsmanship involved!  The object is to have a sturdy walking stick for any occasion that arises.  The internet offers many sources of the walking stick priced from less then $20.00 to more then $80.00.  You are welcome.

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

Where does the material come from?

Some of you have asked about the source of my material. It all began several Christmas seasons ago with the gift of a Trail Camera.01160012

One other attribute to this story is the location of our home. My wife and I live just north of the community of Rio Rancho, New Mexico. Our backyard abuts Bureau of Land Management acreage.  Three hundred yards to the east of the BLM property is a Bosque (Spanish for woodlands) that provides riprap for both sides of The Rio Grande River.  On the opposite side of the Rio Grande lies the Sandia Pueblo, a Native American Reservation.  I speak about our home location because for several years all manners of wildlife both feathered and fur bearing lived and hunted the Bosque.  Our sub-development was not as populated, or as noisy nor were there many other developments nearby in those days.  I had seen porcupines, raccoons and coyotes roaming about during that time but never close to the homes, that trend soon reversed itself.  A drought sat in and for the next two years the river started drying up.  Almost immediately, some of those Bosque critters were coming to neighborhood backyard bird feeders and water fountains to augment their diminishing food sources.  That was three years ago, that was the same year Santa Clause delivered my first trail camera.

The summer before the camera went up there was a terrible commotion in our garage one particularly hot night.  I had left the garage door opened just a few inches hoping for some cooler air.  Apparently, a raccoon had snuck in then helped himself to a stash of bird seed.  That varmint created such a mess it took two days to clean up and set things in order.  By now there was a regular game trail going on behind the back fence and emboldened rascals of the four legged persuasion, walking down the street in front of our house.  It was time to decide, coexist or find a way to rid our selves of the pests now frequenting our home.  We enjoy nature but it was getting a little too friendly.  The internet has a lot to offer on just about every subject, some references are good and others pretty bad.  This was also about the time that a few communities with in New Mexico were taking up Coyote Hunting Contests.  I retired January 1st, 2011 from the Regulation and Licensing Division and went to work almost immediately for the New Mexico Legislature as a Financial Analyst.  That job entailed determining what potential legislation would cost the tax payers.  One of the bills I reviewed was the concept of licensing Coyote Hunting Contests, more on that in another story.  Hard facts were in front of me and with my new desire to rid our home of pests, the future was set- almost.

The internet offered that efforts to exterminate Coyotes were futile at best, better to make the Coyote uncomfortable near your home.  The internet also carried stories about ongoing Coyote studies which could be verified, I emailed a couple of those leads.   I found there were a few columnists  who were very happy to share their references in addition to those I was gathering, the life of the Coyote was beginning to reveal itself.  The Coyote is not a complicated animal, it thrives were other animals have perished.  The Coyote is only a nuisance when it kills livestock or attacks the family pet and scares the bejebus out of inattentive home owners.   However, the story of the Coyote seems to be almost all negative hence the desire some have to eliminate it from their surroundings.

Now that I have a better grasp on the Coyote’s prescience it doesn’t seem as malevolent, it passes my yard by though I sometimes get his picture with my trail camera.  During cold nights his family will be photographed as they make their way to the old Bosque hunting grounds.

PRMS0014_edited-1
A family at work

Two years ago there may have been a Coyote in the backyard, I found a big blood spot on the grass.  And too, one of the rabbits that fed on the grass went missing.  That is what nature is all about and every once in a while it will happen in your backyard.  I installed wire mesh on all the entry points rabbits use to access the grassy areas and made sure all of the birdfeeders are positioned over open, sandy soil which discourages small rodents.  I have learned to keep bird seed inside the garage in locked containers with all external doors closed tightly.  There has been no evidence of critters in the yard since!         I paid attention to the assimilation of Coyote material I was gathering and it seems to have paid off.

Have a great summer every one!!!  Stay tuned, there is more to come on the Coyote Cam!

 

 

 

Eastern Coyote is Bigger!

The Eastern Coyote is bigger then the Western Coyote, not by much though. The distinction between the Eastern and Western Coyote species is in weight and DNA samples, not much else separates them.  Speaking about DNA, biologist note the relationship between the Grey Wolf and the Western Coyote found specifically in Southeastern Canada to be a very good match.  Existing records suggest the hybridization occurred some time around the mid 1800s at about the same time they began moving eastward.  While the Eastern Coyote is not as big as the Grey Wolf their family units occupy a greater territory then do their relatives, the Western Coyote.  Much has been written about “packs” but the Coyotes are comprised of “family units” which is another separation factor between it and the Wolves.  Readers will want to keep the concept of “family units” in mind as this blog contributes future postings.

 Eastern Coyote_edited-1

The Hybrid Wolf/Coyote did not exist before Europeans migrated to the New World.  The Eastern Coyote was noticed in the North Eastern areas of the United States about 1930 and has expanded its territory through out the eastern states all the way South to Virginia.  Interestingly, the Eastern Coyote was not known to be a problem until the 1980s and 90s.  It was about that time urban developments expanded making urbanites and coyotes unlikely neighbors.

As has been written in previous issues of the Coyote Cam, Coyotes easily adapt. Home owners bring a lot to the Coyote in terms of easy food and shelter.  Look around you.  How many bird feeders do you see?  How many pet food bowls do you know are left out on the porch?  See any garbage cans with debris stacked along side them?  Do you see cats or dogs running about the neighborhood?  Anyone have firewood stacked close by?  What about that park not far from where you live?  Coyotes have been known to paw the area below birdfeeders to eat the dropped birdfeed.  Oh yeah, that dropped birdfeed also draws mice and other varmints which the coyote will devour without a second thought.  Records and neck tags trace Coyotes daily lives which reveal they wait to cross streets until the vehicle traffic is in their favor.  The Coyotes will travel to an area with high grass and make a den for its family.  It doesn’t have to be high grass either, a wood pile or w washed out paved parking lot will do too.  Coyotes adapt and survive!

Thanks for your time – Stay Tuned, their is more to come on the Coyote Cam!

Coyotes Across The Borders

Nosing around the trail.

This photo is the result of having moved the trail camera from a low perspective to one higher up on the fence line.  One of the most recent photos from early March reminds us that Coyotes are constantly hunting, the time was a few minutes before 5pm.  The are several tracks in the ground under the Coyote’s nose.  Wonder what scents he / she has found?  One thing is for sure it may very well be the next meal.

Cold, miserable morning
Cold, miserable morning

This photo was taken from the old location.  The only problem is that being closer to the ground the camera batteries were constantly draining during the cold spells.  That produced poor quality photos which were trashed.  Originally, I had abandoned this shot but it seemed more appropriate as I gathered more and more Coyote stories.

 

 

This author attempts to gather Coyote news when ever and where ever he finds it. The pursuit of Coyote news sometimes takes us out of the English speaking countries so the story becomes fraught with translation issues.  Therefore, I will provide the link to the latest news following this brief introduction.  An interesting story out of Quebec, Canada this week should remind us all that the Coyote is never far away.  Seems “The Siver Times” (an internet news source) is reporting several Coyote sightings recently.  In fact a local biologist has been tracking the Coyote population in that community for several years.  The biologist’s findings suggest that the Coyote population has grown substantially!  Most of the article goes into detail about why and where Coyote sightings are most common in an effort to allay fears.  Nonetheless, this contributor advises that while the Coyote may not be overtly aggressive it will pursue any and all opportunities.  At home make your yard unattractive to wild life of all kinds: do not leave pet foods out, clean up rubbish and secure all garbage containers.  When out walking be aware of your surroundings, walk all pets on a leash and if confronted by Coyotes, raise your arms making your body bigger all the while yelling at the attacking Coyote.  Hopefully the attacking Coyote is not rabid but know that sick animals and more especially those infected by rabies, will exhibit erratic behavior.  A non-infected animal will abandon the attack when a stand is taken while the infected animal will continue its aggressive behavior.  If you suspect rabies do not hesitate to take what ever defensive capabilities are at your disposal.  Regardless, aggressive animals should be reported to authorities as soon as is possible!   Now, the “The Siver Times” link.

Stay tuned, there is more to come on the Coyote Cam. Thanks for visiting!

 

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!