First, a disclaimer is required here. This writer has always been an outdoor sportsman which includes hunting and fishing. In conjunction with being an outdoor sportsman we all need to recognize that predators come in all sorts of packages; fin, fowl and animal (both the two legged and four legged varieties). It is my belief that good stewardship includes land as well as wildlife! A well maintained wildlife environment provides a shelter against encroaching humans and conversely, predators from wondering neighborhoods.
The end of 2017 saw an uptick in the number of Coyote attacks, a lot of those attacks were fatal to family pets. This blog has long talked about the number of Coyotes being encountered in usually non-wildlife areas (think neighborhoods here). This blog has recounted the number of state, county and city agencies discouraging folks from feeding wild life yet a few people still see mangy Coyotes as hungry and in need of feeding. Television and newspapers note with regularity the number of Coyote and human pet interactions in gruesome details. One would think the Coyote is right up there with national enemy number 1.
Conversely, there are a number of groups through out the United States that advocate saving the Coyote. Just this past Sunday in the Albuquerque Journal a column entitled Coyote-killing contest riles somemight suggest that stopping cruel and insensitive Coyote killing contests ought to be the law as it is in some other states. OK, lets not paint all citizens with one brush. We are not all trying to save the Coyote – ask any pet owner who has witnessed their family (member) pet being killed by a Coyote. The majority of those folks see a need to eradicate the neighborhood Coyotes. Leave the city limits and there will be another person that has no need of the Coyote, those in the agricultural industry. Farmers and ranchers not only loose family pets to Coyotes but they loose a part of their income to Coyote predation. Cattle and sheep fare the worse loses due to Coyote attacks because currently, there are few other predators other wise – losses would be far greater! As any veterinarian can attest, Coyote attacks are often expensive to treat. A sheep or cow being much larger becomes even more expensive to treat.
Why has the Coyote become so infamous – in one word, humans. An ever growing population of humans is forcing wildlife into smaller and smaller parcels of land. Humans have paved roads into the lands once dominated only by wildlife. These roads create a quasi type of wildlife fence, cross it at the wrong moment and death is instantaneous. Those lands parceled by roads are also drained thereby eliminating sources of drinking water for wildlife as well the environment of water fowl. Wetlands, once home to water fowl are fast becoming construction sites. Say what you will, we humans are the ones encroaching on wildlife! OK, the point of no return has not been reached . . . yet! There are still areas where wild life abounds but that area is diminishing in size every day. The last place a Coyote wants to be is out on a ranch or farm, their life spans are limited out there! Much safer are the city neighborhoods where humans provide food that doesn’t have to be hunted and shelter that doesn’t require preparation or maintenance. Go ahead and leave those pet food bowls outside, be sure the backyard fountains are running and by all means don’t bother covering those garbage cans. Birdfeeders should be filled to over flowing so not only birds but squirrels come to visit.
Thanks for your readership!
Stay tuned – there is more to come on the Coyote Cam
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 but 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 and 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!
The hierarchy of nature dictates that prevailing weather will control the environment which then dictates the level of animal habitation. Early Europeans settling in the US found hearty soil capable of growing more crops with not near the exertion required in their home lands. Growing seasons were longer and in most cases more moderate. Clear out a few trees and mend the rocky soil and abundant crops would result! The cattle ranchers did not need to bend their back to the soil but instead required open prairies with a plentiful water supply. While these two life styles would seem dissimilar in fact animals were needed on the farm – milk cows, chickens and heavier animals for plowing. Humans have noted that domesticated animals thrive when they are grazed rather then being fed. Healthy livestock fare better in transportation then animals simply fed Yes, livestock are fattened up in feed lots but grazing makes for more durable animals! Where ever you find livestock you will find predators ready to stalk them, it is nature. The sad part of nature is that when humans interfere nature suffers. Interference is not part of nature yet humans continually try to alter the outcome nature has set in motion.
Predators are born with a sense of smell far more advanced then others. Don’t forget that dogs and cats are predators too. Ever notice how they can sense food left out on a counter? Back to the wilds – bears, large cats and canines can smell other animals in distress. In as much as bears, large cats and wolfs are pretty well hunted out that leaves the Coyote. Livestock placentas are extremely motivating as a predator food source. Earlier on in this blog’s history a rancher was interviewed in relation to a Coyote Hunting Contest and she related the following story in support of the contests. The rancher knew one of her cows was in the final stage of delivering. As most cows do they try to find a spot away from the others to give birth. The rancher found the cow and watched a calf being born. From out of the bush a Coyote appeared and went after the half born calf. The birthing cow could not do anything in defense as the calf was not fully delivered. The rancher said she didn’t have a gun but did her best to scare the Coyote off. Unfortunately, the Coyote had a firm hold on the unborn calf and during the struggle between the cow, the Coyote and the rancher- the unborn calf was fatally injured. The struggle proved to be too much for the cow as well, she died from shock and loss of blood a bit later. The rancher lost not just the calf but the cow as well. This is not an isolated story either, all domesticated animals are subject to the same fate. Coyotes do not kill for sport but to satisfy hunger and they are aggressive during that activity.
This brings us back to the opening comments.
Look up Coyote Hunting Contests and there will be a few internet sites advocating the sport yet many, many more suggesting the Contests are nothing more then legalized mass animal killings. Passing through the western and southwestern part of the United States the visitor will find an agrarian environment, long and empty miles of nothing but cattle or sheep. Often you can travel for several hours and never see another vehicle. Yet, just like others east of the Mississippi ranchers and farmers dread losing the extra help directly and indirectly provided by the state. Just like the loss of family produce farms will eventually impact everyone’s kitchen so too will the loss of livestock. It is time to take a realistic look at animal predation before it is too late.
Stay tuned, there is more to come on the Coyote Cam!
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.
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
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!
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.
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!