So how do we get rid of Coyotes?

Nature pits the Coyote against humans and the Coyote are winning.  However, a story coming out of San Francisco California suggests a different perspective on that relationship.  This is an interesting comment about the Coyote’s ability to thrive in an urban environment based on the local newspaper’s other entertainment value.  Coyotes have learned over the years that survival depends on its ability to blend into its surroundings.  In the above story the newspaper carrier simply wants to end having to re-deliver papers.  His solution only serves to reinforce to a Coyote, humans are not to be feared!  As this blog has pointed out lo these many month, Coyotes do very well in municipal settings Thank You very much!  But why do Coyotes do as well as they do when everyone hates them?  The secret is that not every one hates the Coyote (nuisance animals in general).  The National Park Service reports on a regular basis that even with signs reading, DO NOT FEED THE WILDLIFE – their Rangers still find piles of pet food left along trails.  People have been cited for illegally feeding wild animals yet the practice continues.  Now, we have a paper carrier encouraging a Coyote to retrieve and play with substitute newspapers.   These misguided but well meaning folks do not understand that feeding / playing with the wildlife diminishes the fear of humans.  Not only will the wildlife lose their fear of humans they will forgo their natural hunting instincts to dine at the local neighborhood garbage can or backyard pet food bowl.

 

There are a lot of stories these days about Coyotes stalking family pets and carrying those pets off while the owner’s watch in horror.

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2018/06/04/dogs-coyotes-metro-detroit-attacks/655705002/

Yes, some pets do survive the initial attack only to suffer until death takes their pain away.  Pets that do live through their injuries are fortunate though often traumatized to the point of not being able to do their business without looking over their shoulders!  Here is the point that falls through many of the “attack stories,” wild life offers other ways to kill then just aggressive attacks.

K9 Parvo, Distemper and Rabies are all carried by wild life not just Coyotes.

(https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/common-conditions/parvo-in-dogs/),

However, this blog’s focus is on Coyotes living among us so it is important to understand that these days one is just as likely to encounter a Coyote as any other wild life.  Remember it isn’t just the physical presence of a Coyote transferring diseases during an assault it is also shedding and their fecal matter we must be concerned with.  All animals primarily experience their world through sounds, smell and taste.  As we walk through the neighborhood we pick up all sorts of unseen debris on our shoes and clothes.  Just our walk through the neighborhood can infect our pets.  The pets use their sense of smell and taste to see their world during those walks.  Who hasn’t walked into their homes only to have the family pet come wagging their tails and beg for a pet on their head?  We bring all kinds of infectious diseases into our homes without ever realizing it.  Keeping the pet food bowls picked up and the garbage can lids secure are only the first lines of defense against Coyotes.  It is important to know what has passed this way and what we step in!

So what do we do to avoid Coyotes in our neighborhoods?  If you haven’t encountered a Coyote you soon will.  Between now and that first time take the following preparations;

  1. Make sure your pets are on a leash.  Some folks believe their dogs are just too big to be taken by a Coyote.  Maybe – but do you really want to take the chance?
  2. “Carry a big stick” and not just because President Theodore Roosevelt said so.  A walking stick or golf club will work
  3. Carry a sound device such as a gym whistle or even a soda can with rocks.
  4. Clean up around your home – put away empty pet food bowls.  Water bowls catch debris or left over food particles from your pets food bowl!
  5. Use secure lids for garbage cans or trash receptacles.  Eliminate food smells!
  6. Around the house be sure wood piles do not provide dens for Coyotes.  Storing a wheel barrow upside down?  Be sure nothing can get under it.
  7. Watch fall out from bird feeders – seed on the ground will draw mice / rats which in turn will draw cats.
  8. In the neighborhood check out any medians with shrubs or sunken areas – all make great dens for Coyotes.
  9. Make sure you have your local legal authorities on speed dial, see a problem call it in!
  10. Make sure your local municipal / city / county aggressively pursues animal control policies and procedures!  If they don’t get involved!

 

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

 

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Coyotes and captivity

The life of a Coyote, depending on where they are born and live will determine their length of survival.  Currently, various data reflect that extended life expectancy in captivity is 18 plus years while those Coyotes living in the wilds may only survive about 8 perhaps 10 years with any luck.  Captivity provides clean water and above average food sources which reduces stress for most animals.  Health is not a matter of luck in captivity rather being monitored and treated as needs arise helps increase an animals longevity.  One need only look at the difference in environments to understand why captive animals live longer, less stress.  Notice I did not state complete loss of stress is obtained!  Being caged is its own form of stress, mental stress can be and is measured in a captive environment.  The one real thing that is missing for captive predators is adequate exercise, not only physically but mentally as well.  It is the author’s contention that for predators, proper exercise (of both mind and body) is in the chase.  Don’t forget that lying in hiding / wait is a form of exercise, being able to accelerate from a prone or sitting position is part and parcel to a predators need for exercise.  A predator’s acquisition (chase) of breeding mates, food and shelter requires a lot of land!  There are few if any listed zoo enclosures large enough to provide the proper exercise for any animal let alone predators!  Yes, Coyotes born in captivity live longer then their wild kin but is that a life for a predator or is it just a day to day existence?

Through out these United States many states have extremely limited hunting seasons and just about every community prohibits discharging firearms with in their territorial limits.  One community in Tennessee (according to the Greenfield Sun) has an ordinance in place that allows its citizens to shoot nuisance animals for agricultural purposes.  Yep – that includes Coyotes.  As a matter of fact, Tennessee does not restrict hunting Coyotes for all intents and purposes.  To this author’s knowledge there are only a few states wherein unregulated hunting / trapping Coyotes is permitted year round.

It is said that nature seeks to fill a vacuum hence animals (Coyotes in particular) will have increased birth rates when food and shelter are readily available.  In conjunction with that line of reasoning Coyotes are very plentiful these days in that there are so few large predators!  A hundred years ago it wasn’t humans that hunted the Coyote, there were wolves, large cats and bears killing Coyotes.  Yet no records are provided by experts that Coyote numbers increased when the larger predators killed off the Coyotes.  Many experts report that Coyotes can adjust to external environmental (hunting) pressures and increase their birth capabilities as needed. Activist say that killing Coyotes is not the solution, it is just killing another defenseless animal for no reason.  As was pointed out in the opening sentence, nature abhors a vacuum.  This author sides with the experts that as Coyotes are killed off more breeding occurs with larger litter numbers.  Typically, Coyotes have litters of 5 to 6 pups at a time when “nature is in balance.”  Coyotes are fairly monogamous in times of a stable environment or periods when the land and food supports the existing population.   However, during altered environments female Coyotes have been known to take new mates and breed more then once per season.

Sadly, in the past and with out any regulations some animals have been hunted into near extinction!  Hunting animals into extinction is not good as it serves no purpose!  Expanding a but here – this author firmly believes that well regulated hunting and or trapping of Coyotes will eventually lessen their numbers!

The side benefit to harvesting a few animals in a timely manner is that unlike attempts to restore Wolves, the Coyote’s genetic diversity will sustain good bloodlines well into the foreseeable future.  Unfettered by confinement of a cage, the Coyote will continue to do what they do really well, survive.  In the wild today there are no large predators threatening the Coyote but that environment is slowly dwindling, building a cage man never imagined. The Coyote has no problem thriving in a urban area because we humans make it easy fro them. It is up to each of us to decide whether or not we want the Coyote to be a new next door neighbor.

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

A picture is worth a trip to the Hospital or worse

It had to happen sooner or later but come on – “Selfies” with wild animals? Cheryl Santa Maria writing for the Digital Recorder reports that residents of Montreal have been posting Instagram selfies with Coyotes.  Essentially, the article reflects an increased  number of Coyote sightings from last June to this April in Montreal.  Now the average person is going to ask, “why would an wild animal that avoids people get close enough for a selfie?”  Even Instagram has admonished their users against attempting selfies with wild animals, it never turns out well!  Habituation is a word that keeps appearing in ongoing instances of human interaction with wildlife.  The action of humans attempting to “help wild life” by feeding them is not a good practice and is discouraged by any and all wildlife scientist!  However, PETA has a different view on the subject – PETA Versus ShootingThis author disagrees with PETA on that stance!  When wild animals start getting comfortable being around humans the relationship will end badly for both the humans and the wildlife!

Do Not Feed_edited-1

Feeding wildlife encourages even closer associations.  Stop for a moment and think back about the times as a child you were offering the family pet a treat.  What happens when you put out a treat to a pet and then quickly pull the treat back?  Instinctively the pet will lunge forward and attempt to snag the treat before it gets away.  Too often the snagged items are the fingers holding the treat, OUCH!  Screaming at the top of their lungs children will run off crying to Mom that the dog/cat just bit them.  The family pet will run away but wild animals often interpret the wailing and fleeing as a sign of distress and intensify their attack.   Change the picture here just a bit, the Coyote is hunting and a human walks by with a small dog/cat on leash.  OK maybe the small dog has just seen a Coyote . . . Canine education

We have one perspective, the Coyote another.  The Coyote sees a small dog/cat trying to get away from the human.  Must be food and the human can’t catch it, why the cord/rope?  The Coyote goes into attack mode chasing after the small animal.  The human yanks the pet up into their arms much like the child pulling the treat back.  The Coyote attack intensifies, the pet begins crying and squirming meanwhile the human attempts to fight back.  Being larger the human may have a slight advantage but depending on their hunger/aggressiveness, the Coyote has more of a reason to continue the attack.  Not a pretty picture for either the Coyote or the human and pet!  Go back a few days in time, this happened because the Coyote found a bit of human-provided food during its evening forage along this trail which was left behind by some well meaning human.

Oh Yeah, and for, those of you who think your dog is too big to be attacked.  A seventy pound Labrador Retriever got off lucky because its owner stood his ground between his dog and a forty pound Coyote.  A seventy pound Labrador versus a forty pound Coyote?  An obvious mismatch but all too often the Coyote comes out a winner in those  confrontations!  This story comes out of Indiana which has seen increased instances of Coyotes or Coydogs Eastern Coyote_edited-1which are typically much heavier then their western kin.  Speaking of Coyotes along the eastern seaboard, more and more Coyote encounters are being recorded.  The common thinking there is that more and more subdivisions are encroaching into the wilds hence more encounters with Coyotes and other wild animals.  Encroachment into wild life may not be avoided as more and more humans decide that the city life is not for them.  Unfortunately, most city dwellers have the wrong perspective of living with or among wild life!  Now about those selfies – cell phone or digital camera?

Next edition find out why trapping, shooting and poisoning are not the only choices.

Stay Tuned – There is more to come on the Coyote Cam

Climate Change or Coyotes?

Yes Martha, there are things far worse then a Coyote attacking our family pet! Readers who follow this blog know that its material comes primarily from major media and internet stories (both authenticated and unauthenticated).  So here we go – Lets all take a deep breath, relax and keep an open mind.  No matter what is causing it . . . .  climate change is a fact!  Example: looking back this week major news media reported the Arctic Ice is at the second lowest level in satellite history.  STOP!  Satellite history is limited when compared to written history let alone the time the earth has revolved around the sun.  All type of facts are available from multiple sources and depending on your personal interpretation can be devastating or uplifting.  So yes, the climate is changing but at what rate?  The speed of climate change appears to be increasing and most would agree the growing human population in all probability – has some impact on the rate of climate change.  There, I said it and you will make of it what you will.  I say climate change is probably worse then a Coyote attacking our family pet!

Well? The point to consider is that as the climate does indeed change what individual impact does it have on us? Begin with food sources . . draught or flooding will destroy your food source.  Shelter . . many homes have been destroyed by both draught (fires) and flooding.  With out food and shelter we humans become scavengers.  Sound familiar?  In addition to being hunters Coyotes are scavengers. As its territory expands and contract a Coyote’s focus turns from hunting to scavenging.  What ever opportunity is presented to the Coyote will be maximized, the Coyote’s life depends on food and shelter.  So you saw a Coyote sneaking around your back fence?  Food and shelter is on the Coyote’s mind as it wonders your neighborhood.  Unlike humans the Coyote can not rebuild and replant so it leaves to find a sustainable environment.  You want the Coyote gone, eliminate its food and shelter.  Hmm . . We humans may want to reconsider our priorities eh?

Between March 15th and March 26th 2018 there have been 14 public reports of Coyote problems, the majority along the east coast with several from New York.  Regardless of where the reader lives if you haven’t had a Coyote problem it is only a matter of time before it happens.  Knowing that Coyote problems are occurring residents would be well advised to prepare for the eventuality of meeting up with the four legged varmint.  Knowing that climate change is happening now is the time to take precautions, throw an extra blanket and couple of bottles of water in the car before you take a trip.  Keep that cell phone charged and consider keeping an emergency battery pack charged up as well.  This year it seems the weather has been relentless on the East Coast and the number of citizens without power has to be at an all time high.  Amazingly, no reported Coyote sightings have been made since the winter storms  . . or have they?  As for Coyotes your choice of defensive tools could be a hand held air-horn or the old reliable 12 gauge.  The latter is my anti-Coyote choice though my neighbors take a dim view on loud sounds in the middle of the night.  NOTE: Rabid Coyotes don’t respond to air horns but the 12 gauge will stop them dead in their tracks – so to speak.

OK so far we have climate change and Coyotes – how are they related you ask? Coyotes are in our neighborhoods and no one can explain why.  The Coyote population is growing in our neighborhoods but no one seems to know how fast the Coyote population is growing. Yes, different localities seem to have varying speeds of Coyote population growth. Open the local newspaper or tune into the evening news show and various pundits will state that this or that is the way to alter climate change.  Some local animal experts report that Coyote control is best achieved through trapping and is more humane while others advocate termination which is more expedient and definitive.  No one has figured a solution to climate change and Coyotes peering out from under the brush near the driveway have no fear of us.

It is said that all politics are local. How about varmint control?  The Federal Wildlife authorities have taken action with a degree of success in the western states. Some other areas over seen by those authorities have suffered collateral damage in the form of live stock and or family pets.  The local communities have a better perspective on their need for varmint control and with the help of local citizens, can limit Coyote run-ins.  Notice I said “limit,” too many well intentioned folks just have to feed the wild life!  Once we get around those supporting wild life in the neighborhoods Coyotes will be motivated to look for other friendly environments.  Recapping here – Climate change is still going on and I just got another trail camera photo of a local Coyote.  On a positive note, the local drought seems to have diminished the number of Coyote tracks behind the back fence.  On the other hand, it looks like my summer water bill is going to be quite a bit higher!

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

Do you hunt?

The Coyote hunting season never ends in New Mexico, hunting these predators here doesn’t require a license either.  As a matter of fact a number of western states maintain open season on Coyotes and for good reason, these predators cause livestock losses.  Lose your livestock and you will not be in business as a farmer or rancher for very long.  A banker’s cold heart makes anti hunting protesters seem quite tame when those land payments come due. Meanwhile in town – these days it is interesting that just about every call a municipal animal control agency receives is in relation to a pet attacked by a Coyote.  The loss of a pet (family member-right?) is devastating enough but to see that pet lying in the back lawn torn apart . . .well it doesn’t get any worse then that!  The common problem here is the Coyote!  What to do?

The agricultural folks will protect their industry at gun point while the folks in town are restricted in their control processes. However, both are hounded by animal rights activists.  Generally speaking – folks on one side want the predator gone while the folks on the other side want the predator left alone.  So which side is right?  Both actually! Coyote diets rely on available food sources but as has been proven they can survive on any combination of food sources.  Outside of the city limits gophers and rabbits are reliable food sources meanwhile, the city offers up rats and mice.  Unfortunately, live stock augments the Coyote’s food sources while dogs and cats often end up as a city delicacy.  The Coyote always prefers the food source which is the easiest to gather, they are not hard workers.

Coyotes have always been here but in the past they were the hunted. Wolves were the alpha canines and along with the other top predators such as the cougar and bear, Coyote populations were under constant pressure.  Wolves hunt in packs where as the Coyote hunted alone unless raising their pups.  Cougars are a lot faster in short runs then is the Coyote and the big cats far more agile hence the Coyote was badly out classed physically.  What can you say about bears, their size is formidable! How can a 35 to 45 pound Coyote contend with a 200 pound plus black bear?  There were no advocates for the Coyote back in those days.  Times have changed for the good as far as the Coyote is concerned.  At least in town there are no guns and not many traps.  Plus, food and shelter are easy to find for the Coyote.  Let us see – if you were a Coyote were would you want to live?

The Coyote has been evolving – on this every one can agree! Coyote populations are being shot on ranches and farms while the only problem a Coyote runs into in town might be a trap.  Which population is going to continue to increase?  That is right – the city bred Coyote!  Those Coyotes living outside the city limits learn that their city cousins have a better life and soon decide that city life is a vast improvement over living on a farm or ranch.  More so, when some one decides it is time for a “Coyote Hunting Contest.” The contest does not segregate males or females, they are both fair game!  On the positive side a well run hunting contest depletes a specific population and provides revenue not commonly in place.  There are a number of positive things that happen during these events, more on that in another posting.  Perhaps the one big negative is the disposal of the carcasses.  Coyote meat is not a well accepted form of protein!  In a lot of cases and is done with other harvested waste and miscellaneous parts – scavengers are relied on to clean up.  Other instances of unwanted hunting by-products are put into biologically safe trenches / holes.  At least the latter does remove all indications of a hunting contest.

A stated in previous postings this author is a hunter and I see no problem with hunting contests. Varmints make for good target practice but burying materials not taken for consumption is a good practice.  Where do you stand?

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

Pack or Family Hunting Unit?

Do Not Feed_edited-1

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 PNG

– 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.

First of September

Good morning to all you Coyote Cam readers / watchers, the first of September has arrived. So what does that mean to the Coyote fan?  We have talked in general terms about Coyotes spotted and encountered through out the country but not a lot about their family life so lets get down to basics.  Back ground history for the following material was derived from the New Mexico Game and Fish, these fine folks work hard to ensure New Mexico’s wild life is properly managed.  A lot more Coyotes are seen at this time of the year as the pups are now grown and capable of going about on their own.  The Coyote family consists of an “Alpha Core” (Dad and Mom are monogamous most of the time) and pups that will hunt as a unit early on in that family’s cycle.  Though more often then not at this time of the year, the youngsters are venturing further from the den developing their own capabilities.  The pups are accepted back for a few more weeks but they will soon go out into the world on their own.  Wolves hunt in packs dictated by a social order as opposed to the Coyote family hunting unit.

 

Breeding begins about mid – late January through February with gestation running about 60 plus days. Birth starts a little after St. Patrick’s Day or from mid March to late April of each year.  The pups do not open their eyes for 10 days New born pupsbut will leave the den 2 – 3 weeks later.  It is about this time that Mom may decide to move the pups to a new location as the youngsters get more active.  Coyotes are known to have several dens available in their territories so Mom has several to choose from.  The Coyote families eventually dissolve with the young males leaving prior to the arrival of Mom and Dad’s next liter.  Of curious note here is that some of the original litter’s female pups will hang around and help Mom with her next litter.  These “babysitters” are really helpful bringing food to Mom and helping to move their new brothers and sisters during the first few months to avoid den parasites and predators. The pups are typically weaned at 5-6 weeks after birth.  The pups accept regurgitated food from the parents at this time but will soon begin their hunting training by accompanying Mom & Dad along with any of the older pups from the previous litter.  As soon as the youngest are getting about on their own and able to keep up with Mom & Dad the other older siblings began to leave the Alpha Core.  The mortality for young Coyotes is close to 50 percent, most pups will never see their first birthday!

Family units consist of 3 – 8 members The Familyand have relatively small territories of 2 – 3 square miles but may range out to 40 square miles depending on conditions. The Coyotes mark their territories with urine, fecal matter and anal-sac secretions.  With their territories marked and ownership established the Coyote family lives a somewhat undisturbed life.  The now mature adults from previous litters are establishing their new territories or arguing for ownership from the current owners.  This time of the year is full of Coyotes, mature pups expanding their territories and looking to strengthen their viability.  The new males are going crazy trying to figure out what this mating thing is all about and at the same time hunting enough food to sustain life and limb.  From now through the next few months Coyotes will be more active then during the early summer months, especially the males.

 

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

“Its a Great Life”

Injured Coyote given aid by Arizona golfer?  What’s wrong with this picture? EVERYTHING!  It is good to render aid to sick and injured animals but there must be a point where the professionals are called.  The Coyote pictured does not appear to be injured.  In the above story nothing is said by those on the site of the Coyote encounter about calling the authorities for help.  The Coyote in the video is obviously not afraid of humans.  The golfers attempt to give the Coyote a drink of water.  But wait folks, this encounter with the Coyote takes place on a golf course!  SO – how much water is used on a golf course?  A lot, a whole lot of water is required to keep golf courses lush and green!  How many golf courses contain water hazards? Most every golf course I have been fortunate enough to play has had a water hazard.  Granted, many courses in the southwestern United States only have water hazards when it rains.  None-the-less, golf course water sprinklers provide moisture to birds / animals living on a golf course with far more water then those located in urban or rural lands!  Yes, that includes those golf courses using re-cycled sewage water as well.  What is the significance of a close encounter with a Coyote by two golfers at mid-day?

It is not just a close encounter with a Coyote on a golf course, it is the multiple reports of close encounters with Coyotes at all times of the day through out the United States!  From Auburn Hills Michigan to San Francisco California Coyotes are growing bolder by the day!  Coyotes do not typically approach humans, they are by nature shy and reserved only coming out to hunt for food or water.  That is until Coyotes encounter charitable, well meaning but badly misguided humans such as the hiker in San Francisco. This author has read and examined interactions between humans and wild life in excess of twenty plus years. In almost every case human intervention with wildlife ends badly!  In many cases wildlife suffers more often then humans during and following interventions.  Many cases of humans finding “lost” fawns or bear cubs end with the young animal having to be placed in captivity or at the very worst and as in many cases, euthanized.  Regardless, imagine the plight of the mother having lost its child.  Wildlife mothers find very quickly that loosing infants is a part of their environment- that is the way of nature.  Feeding an animal is worse on so many levels – processed food is not part of any animals diet.  Leaving food out is akin to entrapment.  The animal soon becomes accustomed to having its food provided and looses its desire to fend.  Why work if the food is there every day and its free?

Coyotes learned a long time ago to be stealthy in order to survive other predators. Coyotes used to fear humans and stayed out of sight using stealth to its advantage.  Now the Coyote no longer relies on stealth around humans. The Coyote’s survival instincts have been altered, they no longer have to fear humans – they have become emboldened by humans providing food! Automobiles are just another stampede to circumvent. Coyotes have learned to cross busy roads to obtain the free food left out by humans.  Is it a great life or what?

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

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.

On the other hand, Coyote Hunting

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. 

early-coyote-hunting
Early Coyote Hunting

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.

helicoyotehunting
Helicopter Coyote Shooter

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. 

coyote-call-results
Coyote Caller and Results

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.