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

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Watching the setting Sun

I am sitting on the back porch enjoying the sitting sun relishing an adult libation and reflecting on life . . . . being retired has a lot of advantages and disadvantages. Family is relatively simple – my daughter and her husband are pursuing successful careers while the grand kids are grown and just starting their careers. On the down side, multiple doctor appointments as we enter our “Golden Years.”  Let me caution you about these “Golden Years,” take really good care of your health and be mindful of your financial situations as you progress through adulthood!  Now all of this has nothing to do with Coyotes – right?

Reflecting on one’s life has as much importance for Coyotes and maybe more so. The animal kingdom has been around a lot longer then humans, its a fact.  Animals are born with out much hope of becoming young adults let alone seniors.  The reason most animals die at an early age is bad health but more often as not is predation from other animals.  Animals survive via a learning process which also includes lower life forms (and I am not talking about human thugs here).  Most animals start life with two strikes against them.  First, young animals have a high mortality rate and the rest of their lives does not get any better from there!  The second strike against all animals is finding food and shelter.  So is it easier to obtain food and shelter in the wilderness or from humans?  Who has the most attractive shelters and the best tasting food ?

Coyote Garbage Can
Scrumptious bites and a beer

Humans!  Does living among humans pose a problem- Yes and No.  It may take a few generations of Coyotes to understand survival needs in the city but they adapt better then other wild life.  Over the past issues of this blog multiple pictures of Coyotes have been published of them doing some amazing things.  How about pictures of Coyotes walking across a frozen river taken by a US Coast Guard Cutter just outside of Boston, Massachusetts.  Ever seen a Coyote walk over the balcony roof of a bar?  You can see it in the archives here.  Really amazing are the photos of Coyotes waiting at a street intersection waiting for the lights to change so they can safely cross!

All of those “learned skills” are necessary to live in the city! Alright, you might say, so they can learn some stunts – how does that help them survive in the city? Those stunts are the tools needed to find food and shelter.  Don’t forget they also have the ability to disappear.  Wait a minute, Coyotes can’t just disappear.  Actually what they have learned to do is to blend in with the background and remain extremely still even when within just inches of a predator / human.  That knack for staying hidden is part of their stealth skills learned from millennia of being hunted by alpha predators.  Stealth is a large part of how Coyotes can survive and do more then just thrive in threatening environments.  Almost daily the media reports instances of owners walking their small dog down a common path bordered by low shrubs and bushes.  All of a sudden a Coyote appears out of nowhere and attacks the small dog.  No! The Coyote did not suddenly appear out of no where.  The Coyote was crouched low in the vegetation bidding its time!  Through its sense of smell and hearing the Coyote had learned that many domesticated, small animals (dogs) walked this path daily.  Too, the Coyote is blazing fast when compared to other animals its size and weight.  Adult Coyotes have been known to hit 35 miles per hour.  Life skills come very quickly to Coyotes  . . that or they do not survive.  Its is good to sit safely on the back porch enjoying the sitting sun reflecting on life.

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.

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

Who is out there?

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The Family

It is that time of the year when Mom and Dad Coyote are pushing last year’s pups out the door and beginning a new family. Mom and Dad will be seen running with the now mature pups.  Some folks tend to call these groups packs (wolfs hunt in packs) but in fact for Coyotes it is just a family outing.  Randomly Coyotes sometimes do hunt as a unit but those times are rare.  More often then not Coyotes tend to be lone, opportunistic predators.  The Coyote families are starting to disperse as winter progresses, we see them in our neighborhoods. Coyotes are becoming more habituated all the time as reflected in many previous Coyote Cam articles.  National Geographic has a fine article which expands on the dos and don’ts of co-existing with city type Coyotes and this blog’s readers will recognize the article’s recommendations.

Cold Paws
What Snow?

Following today’s officer elections of the “Friends of Rio Rancho Open Space” we discussed the various critters roaming about our section of the Rio Grand Bosque.  Seems the Coyote was getting a lot of reviews.  More importantly for our mostly suburban area is that the number of feral hogs is on the rise, those varmints cause terrible destruction to lawns and gardens.  Unfortunately and as our group would agree, predator numbers will rise along with the food source provided by the feral hog piglets.  More Coyotes can be a good and or a bad thing depending on their environment.  Generally speaking, most city residents will not see feral hogs running about.  However, those of  us living in the suburban areas often have to endure domesticated farm animals (in the city this includes dogs and cats) going wild or feral.  These animals are especially hard to control as they stay close to homes.  As has been addressed in this blog on previous occasions, trapping and shooting unwanted animals in and around these locations is highly prohibitive.  On a positive note Coyotes provide suburban dwellers an alternative toward controlling unwanted feral animals.  On the negative side, when the feral animals are gone the elevated number of Coyotes often become our new unwanted neighbors.

The new year is upon us and winter is casting a chill almost every where in our country.   Many folks prefer to remain inside their warm homes at this time of the year.  Sadly, following the Holiday season is also the worst time of the year for depression or “cabin fever.”  Want a really great mental boost?  If the sun is shinning get outside if only for a few minutes.  If you are able to take a short walk it is a good time to look out and about your neighborhood to see what tracks are in the newly fallen snow or wet ground.  OK – if your home is in frost bite city be sure to take precautions before going outside!  Make sure to get out and about for a few minutes if you are able to safely do so.

If you haven’t done so go back and click on the links above. The National Geographic article is a really good read and the FORROS web site might just inspire you to take a more active interest in your own neck of the woods.  The Coyote Cam is gathering news from around the country and hopefully, will be more closely associated with a national group in the near future.  Any one desiring to ask questions or submit articles for use are encouraged to email the Coyote Cam.

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

Happy New Year

Good bye 2016 and Hello 2017! Time for a change but human nature changes very slowly.  Coyote news reports from across the country remain consistent, people ignore the laws of nature and pets (especially small pets) suffer.  Sad to say another family pet was lost in Chicago and what was worse is that it happened on Christmas Day.  The tragic story involves three specific traits; Coyote numbers are on the rise, People think it is ok to feed wildlife, People think that just because their pets were safe last week the pets will be safe this week too.  Combine all three of these traits and a recipe for disaster is set in motion. Even though the number of reported Coyote incidents has risen dramatically many more go unreported.  There have been more pets lost this year then in any other year and that number will continue to rise.

Many citizens attend public meetings seeking information to eliminating the “Coyote” problem every week. During each of those meetings an authority will advise the attendees there are multiple issues needing correction before the Coyote threat can be reduced.  Some of those discussions will reflect that the process of eliminating the Coyote threat carries unintended consequences such as possible injuries to pets and humans.  Prior issues of the Coyote Cam speaks to poisons and leg traps for those not familiar with the unintended consequences of attempting to eliminate Coyotes.  Most authorities advise that Coyotes are often seen well before they become a nuisance and that is the best time to be proactive in Coyote elimination!  As soon as the first Coyote is seen in the immediate area residents should look for the attractant that drew the Coyote to them.  This is a great time to introduce yourself to your neighbors if you haven’t done so already!  Many neighborhoods have “Crime Watch” organizations and those folks bring a lot of eyes so why not watch for Coyotes as well as bad guys.  Some of you might put the Coyote and bad guys in the same bag but they are different, one is a creature of nature while the other is a creature with only bad intentions.  Pooling the resources of neighborhood watch associations can be the first line of defense against Coyote problems!

One of your neighbors is stand offish and not the joining type. I can hear the murmurings of readers growing louder!  In the case of a Neighborhood Watch Organization this is not really  a problem as others can be relied on to augment the nonconformist.  However, when it comes to yard maintenance and picking up after pets the nonconformist becomes the focal point for Coyotes.  There will always be a nonconforming individual in the neighborhood crowd, someone who is not reasonable or responsible.  This is where the local health or code enforcement authorities will make a difference, one call to those authorities and the nonconformist can rely on random checks through out the year.  Some communities with strong health / code enforcement agencies establish a list as they realize nonconforming individuals need the proper motivation to clean up their home and lawns.  Yeah that first call to health / code enforcement can be tough but the positive outcome could result in a nicer neighborhood and one free of Coyotes.  The object is to encourage the Coyotes to go elsewhere and that is one of the goals of this blog, helping to better understand Coyotes and their habitats.

City and suburban areas are fairly easy to protect once one knows what to look for but the urban and agricultural areas will most certainly have an ongoing Coyote issue. A Coyote problem requiring sterner means of control, proactive here means terminating the critters.  Unfortunately, this is where Coyote experts have learned that termination is not one hundred percent certain!  Over the years Coyotes have learned to not only survive but thrive in impossible situations.  In almost each and every case where Coyotes have been killed the following season sees an uptick in numbers.  Mother nature abhors a vacuum and the Coyote validates that theory.  Once the Coyote has established a territory they instinctively increase their numbers when ever the current numbers decrease.  The final point in conjunction with the afore mentioned concepts is that once a Coyote has established its territory there is little to no chance of eliminating its progeny!  Act when the first Coyote is seen and the eventual elimination is a tad more efficient!

Changing the story line here – This past Christmas the Coyote Cam was active, four Coyotes (alright – three full figures and a portion of a fourth) were recorded. The timing is interesting in that the Coyote Cam was a Christmas present some four years ago and the very first time it was put into use it recorded several Coyotes.  The time in between then and now saw only a few Coyotes but the realty was that two cameras had to be replaced.  Down time between camera replacements were lengthy which would account for the lower number of Coyote photographs.  Following this edition readers will note the latest photographs of the local Coyote family, they do seem healthy this year!  Why would the Coyotes hang around when so many of the neighbors take stringent precautions?  Bureau of Land Management is not proactive in critter control until the animals involved become a problem.  As noted above several pets are killed but few are ever officially reported as killed but simply as missing.  The lands adjacent to this neighborhood are managed(?) by BLM and until missing pets are denoted as killed by Coyotes BLM will not take any action to eliminate the Coyotes running through BLM property.

Thank You for allowing this writer time off for Christmas and New Year. I sincerely hope you and your family are healthy and looking forward to the coming year.

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

Natural Selection

The May 14th, 2016 edition of the Coyote Cam focus was directed at a blind, pregnant female Coyote struggling to survive. Only the intervention of a human saved the dying pregnant Coyote.  The blind female Coyote gave birth to five puppies which are to be released back into the wild.  Saving dying Coyotes and releasing young Coyotes into the wilderness is contradictory to every Coyote Cam story to date.  Without fail, most if not all humans see the Coyote as a threat to their livestock, family pets, and oh yeah – children.  Why then does someone need to intervene and prevent the death of a blind and pregnant Coyote?

Most readers will note that the Coyote Cam centers on the history and survival skills of the Coyote in rural wilderness, suburban and urban settings. In the wilderness nature’s law prevails whereas in suburban and urban localities nature’s law gives way to what we humans decide is best.  Most human dwellings require green grass and flowers around homes and yards.  Flowers are a thing of beauty but secondary to that, they also draw butterflies and hummingbirds.  To further enhance our outdoor enjoyment we hang bird feeders around the yard hoping to attract song birds and in a few cases we even put out bird baths.  There is no argument that these feeders do attract birds and sometimes, squirrels.  Unfortunately, squirrels, mice and rabbits are attracted to the seeds dropped to the ground by these backyard feeders.  Squirrels, rabbits and mice are a buffet to a hungry Coyote!  All too often these same feeders are inside the fence where the family pets eat and play.  It just doesn’t get any better for a Coyote, food and (remember the bird bath) water all in the same location!  Lets not forget that most humans are complacent in the fact the backyard is a safe place allowing children to play unattended.

Conversely, Nature has a rule that perpetuates and improves life in the wilderness and that is that sick, young, old or injured animals provide sustenance for other wild life. An animal carcass provides meals to all species of wild life, scavengers even include other Coyotes!  Conversely, the suburban / urban Coyote has developed survival skills based in part on the inattention of humans.  Humans, intentionally or unintentionally, do little to protect their home environment against animal intrusions hence Coyotes find easy access to food and shelter.  Every one complains when neighborhood dogs tip over garbage cans but was it really a family pet that did the deed?  Coyotes can push over garbage cans as easily as the family pet!

Newport Beach California

Sterling Heights Michigan

Reviewing the week’s national media Coyote postings, two interesting articles appear. The first is from Newport Beach California which reveals its Coyote problem was bad enough in August 2015 that citizens threatened to take matters into their own hands.  The authorities stepped in and currently are attempting to establish a prioritization monitoring system whereby Coyotes posing a sever threat are terminated.  Meanwhile, on the eastern side of the country, Sterling Heights Michigan residents are seeing Coyotes in residential areas.  Alarmed citizens are being told by the Police Department there to use all possible precautions to avoid a direct encounter with the varmints.

In the last Coyote Cam posting we find a human seeking ways to save a blind and wounded rural Coyote. Did the well intentioned person of the previous posting intercede in “Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection?”  Let the rest of us know how you feel, leave a comment.   Stay tuned- there 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!