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

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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.

There is a season –

Hi - Im just passing throughFirst, 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 some might 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.

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Your bird feeder is empty but you want have to worry about the cat

Thanks for your readership!

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.

Its them or me-

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.

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Coyote Hunting Contests

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!

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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

 

Walk through The Rio Grande Bosque

Just when you think you understand all that there is to know about Coyotes they will fool you (me!). A recent news article from suburban Detroit describes a home owner waking to the sound of braking glass.  Another person living there also responded to the braking glass and together they found a Coyote sprawled on the floor beneath a broken dinning room window.  They immediately called animal control officers who removed the Coyote from the couple’s home.  As the officers were walking away from the house the home owners returned to clean up the broken glass and over turned furniture.  Surprised, the home owners found yet another Coyote in a comatose state underneath the over turned furniture.  They yelled for the animal control officers to come back and retrieve the now staggering Coyote.  Now this being that time of the year when Coyotes are romantically engaged it would not be farfetched to imagine that one of the Coyotes was either running in fear or was being pursued.  We don’t know which was which since the sex of either Coyote was not divulged in the news article.  Nonetheless, the lead Coyote must not have seen the window but imagined it as a path of freedom and the following Coyote was hot on its heels.  Food or a potential mate is the driving force in the animal kingdom but through a glass window?  Hmm . . . .

The above article’s readers were discussing the elimination of these uninvited guests and trouble makers. A few folks apparently put their mouths in motion (pen to paper / hit the send button) before engaging their brains.  Conversely, the folks who read this blog know that the State of New Mexico as well as Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas (dang near every state in the union for that matter) prohibit discharging firearms inside city limits.  It seems our Canadian neighbors in Kirkland, Montréal have similar laws on discharging weapons in inside municipal boundaries.

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Sadly, the use of leg traps (steel jawed) is still permitted in some areas but again, pretty well discouraged by many state wild life agencies specifically near human habitations.  Think about Spot or Fluffy or worse yet, a young child being snared by a leg trap.

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Most state wild life agencies do permit the use of “padded” leg traps but even those have alarms that electronically alert that the trap has been tripped.  Having said this many times before –  Once you have seen a Coyote in your neighborhood it is probably too late to get rid of them.  The dens and hunting areas are well established by the time you see these fur covered menaces!

Some say Coyotes are the reason for missing pets and for that reason the Coyote should be exterminated. There are other reasons for deterring Coyotes such as rabies and mange.  Both of these illnesses can be transmitted to Spot or Fluffy by unhealthy Coyotes.  This past summer of 2016 saw several people in California bitten by a supposed rabid Coyote while a local Albuquerque Coyote recently recorded by a local TV station, was found to be suffering from a sever case of mange.  Sick animals are usually easy to spot and for that reason may serve as a warning sign there are problems coming soon to a yard near you.  Coyotes are increasingly less fearful of humans though when confronted they will skulk off and disappear.  The Coyotes are not gone they have moved beyond where humans habitually look for them and there they will hide until we leave that area.

This author use to hunt (in the early days with a gun though now with cameras) and the one thing that never escapes my thoughts is that the Coyote will let humans pass very closely before they react. The nearby Bosque (wooded area bordering the Rio Grande River) provides a great walk through nature.  The river draws migrating water fowl making their journeys south in the winter and returning north in the spring.  While the river is not fished it does have sufficient water flow that encourages wild life to seek water and shelter along its banks and wooded areas.  Coyotes are common to this area and are sometimes seen attempting to take a drowsy duck or inattentive goose that has drifted too close to the river’s edge.  Many times I have walked by a scrub oak bush or mesquite bramble only to scare a Coyote (and myself as well) into a rapid retreat.  If cornered the Coyote will defend itself, if there is an escape route the Coyote will depart at a high rate of speed!  It should be noted that local Coyotes remain less aggressive then being reported elsewhere.  Fortunately there haven’t been any reported cases of mange or rabies reported here.  Our Bosque appears to be healthy.

 

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.

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OH – and the bait as well.

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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.