The Eastern Coyote is bigger then the Western Coyote, not by much though. The distinction between the Eastern and Western Coyote species is in weight and DNA samples, not much else separates them. Speaking about DNA, biologist note the relationship between the Grey Wolf and the Western Coyote found specifically in Southeastern Canada to be a very good match. Existing records suggest the hybridization occurred some time around the mid 1800s at about the same time they began moving eastward. While the Eastern Coyote is not as big as the Grey Wolf their family units occupy a greater territory then do their relatives, the Western Coyote. Much has been written about “packs” but the Coyotes are comprised of “family units” which is another separation factor between it and the Wolves. Readers will want to keep the concept of “family units” in mind as this blog contributes future postings.
The Hybrid Wolf/Coyote did not exist before Europeans migrated to the New World. The Eastern Coyote was noticed in the North Eastern areas of the United States about 1930 and has expanded its territory through out the eastern states all the way South to Virginia. Interestingly, the Eastern Coyote was not known to be a problem until the 1980s and 90s. It was about that time urban developments expanded making urbanites and coyotes unlikely neighbors.
As has been written in previous issues of the Coyote Cam, Coyotes easily adapt. Home owners bring a lot to the Coyote in terms of easy food and shelter. Look around you. How many bird feeders do you see? How many pet food bowls do you know are left out on the porch? See any garbage cans with debris stacked along side them? Do you see cats or dogs running about the neighborhood? Anyone have firewood stacked close by? What about that park not far from where you live? Coyotes have been known to paw the area below birdfeeders to eat the dropped birdfeed. Oh yeah, that dropped birdfeed also draws mice and other varmints which the coyote will devour without a second thought. Records and neck tags trace Coyotes daily lives which reveal they wait to cross streets until the vehicle traffic is in their favor. The Coyotes will travel to an area with high grass and make a den for its family. It doesn’t have to be high grass either, a wood pile or w washed out paved parking lot will do too. Coyotes adapt and survive!
Thanks for your time – Stay Tuned, their is more to come on the Coyote Cam!
Coyote hunting contests re-emerge as a possibility to control Coyote populations.
New Mexico, like a lot of other states, permitted Coyote hunting contests and from all appearances, will continue to allow the activity to continue. Over the past several years some New Mexico citizens decided the Coyote hunting contests were unacceptable. Those same citizens once again purposed a change to the laws via Senate Bill 253, the Senate subcommittee hearing the bill is comprised of a Democratic majority. The Senate then passed the bill on Feb. 15, 2015 passing same over to the House Water, Agriculture and Wildlife committee for further deliberations. As of the date of this blog the House subcommittee has not acted on the bill and few doubt the Republican House favors its passage. Stand tuned we will report the outcome when it is made public.
Expanding to the national scene
Don’t think that a little cold water and ice will stop our four legged predator friends? Seems members of a Coast Guard Ship breaking ice in Boston Harbor came across a Coyote in an unusual spot. Coyotes will expand and contract their ranges relevant to their food sources and den capabilities. Finding a Coyote in the middle of a frozen Boston Harbor is not so far fetched. Readers may recall an article posted in this blog concerning Coyote trappers in Alaska. If a Coyote can make it there they can make it anywhere – sound familiar?
It seems more Coyote encounters are finding their way into this document. Chappaqua, N.Y via CBS on March 3, 2015 reported more and more Coyotes are being spotted and some packs are being seen. One of the pest professionals interviewed advised he was using a rubber, leg trap with an alarm whenever the trap is tripped. Some of those citizens affected offered suggestions from learning to live with the predators while others deemed extermination to be the best practice. In another internet blog, Northjersey.Com reported on Feb. 28, 2015 of a Coyote being seen and recorded by Englewood Cliff’s Upper School and Memorial Field security cameras. The Coyote appears to have made this part of its territory as the sightings at this location are being repeated. A number of animal control personnel stated for the Northjersey.Com the Coyotes are here to stay. Saying this part of the country has permitted timber and brush to reclaim much of the surrounding land which provides ready habitat for both the Coyote and its natural prey such as rodents. In one sense Coyote presence may be good- the Coyotes kill the rodents off prior to the rodents becoming disease infested. However, the addition of human created garbage and household pets is insurance the roaming Coyotes will never go hungry as well the near by brush and high grass provide Coyotes shelter.
Meanwhile, Pittsburg and Kansas are reporting an increase in the number of Coyote encounters and police there are warning residents to be on the alert. Hazing is one possible way to scare off unwanted animals and Coyotes do seem to avoid areas of anti-social behavior. Chicago has decided to begin using “paint balls!” Who knows lets hope it works. As has been reported here ad-infinitum; garbage, pets and their food bowls must be kept secure. More and more material also suggests keeping nearby areas free of debris and or vegetation which might create potential den sights. Until next month’s edition- carry a big stick when taking your walk!
Look around! You may not see them but you will know the Coyotes were there if you pay attention to the ground. Are there any paw prints, footprints or tracks? Not a tracker you say, ground is too hard for a visible impression, wouldn’t know a Coyote print from a domestic dog / wolf / fox? The paw print is a good place to start- the following table will help you spot more then just the Coyote’s presence. The accompany table is not drawn to scale but approximate lengths from toe to heel are included in the drawings. Courtesy of Desert USA
Lets start with the table, notice that the Coyote paw print is considerably smaller then the Wolf’s and somewhat smaller then that of the Large Dog’s print. The smallest print is that of the Red Fox though most city dwellers will not see that species especially if Coyotes are present. Having said that it seems a small community named Waverly just outside of Winnipeg Manitoba Canada is now seeing Coyotes where once only the Fox hunted. Adapt or perish? Also in the above table, notice that the two front, inner toes of the Coyote actually turn inward and toward one another. That trait sets the Coyote apart from its cousins almost as much as anything can. In addition to the tracks all animals leave their calling card in the form of droppings. In as much as most domesticated animals are fed prepared foods their droppings do not contain the remains found in Coyote droppings such as bones or remnants of prior meals. Unfortunately, undigested dog and cat collars have been found in Coyote droppings! References suggest Coyote droppings are found on or near the perimeter of their hunting grounds which helps to mark their territory. Look in the center of or along the side of walking paths for twisted / knotted droppings (scat), this is usually a Coyote though other animals do have similar droppings. The droppings and identifiable tracks together will mark the passing of a Coyote in the immediate area. So many cities have removed the larger predators that the Coyote has easily taken over the now pavement lined hunting grounds. Oh, that’s right- a few humans leave their garbage unsecured meaning a buffet of easy pickings. All of us contribute in some form or another to the survivability of Coyotes. Bird feeders and water fountains supply the basic needs for more then just birds. Rabbits and squirrels make their homes close to feeders and available water, this allows the Coyotes a little diversity in their diets. It may be time to re-evaluate the location of those bird feeders and to possibly elevate that fountain higher off the ground and away from vegetation.
Bottom line for Coyote prevention- if your pets and or wild life would eat it so will the Coyote. If the Coyote has acclimated to finding food at specific locations such as the pet’s food bowl in your backyard and it is not available then the next best thing for the Coyote is the family pet. Keep garbage containers securely covered, pet food bowls inside, accompany pets outside, on a short leash when exercising and always, always carry a big stick (tongue in cheek credit to Teddy Roosevelt).
Another episode of the Coyote Cam is at an end but stay tuned, there is more Coyote News on the way.
The week ended with a number of coyote sightings and unfortunately, heightened coyote aggression against a mother and her young daughter in the Southern California community of Ladera Ranch. The story goes on to say the coyote then followed up by attacking and killing two dogs in the same neighborhood.
National Geographic has even gotten into observing movements of uber-urban coyotes.
As reported in The Chicago Tribune, dated January 15th, 2015 Wildlife Ecologist, Stan Gehrt and several associates retained by National Geographic monitored coyotes living in Chicago during the years 2013 and 2104. Gehrt and crew used “crittercams” and GPS to track some of the coyotes around and through the Chicago city limits. The study found that coyotes managed to negotiate heavily traveled streets and forage with little to no human intervention. The monitored coyotes often sat motionless as humans walked within just feet of the hiding coyote. The coyotes raised litters and survived reasonably well even under the Chicago Bears stadium parking lot.
Lots of media reports including the Albuquerque Journal reflect an increase in the number of coyote sightings. But is it really an increase in the coyote population? Maybe not- it could well be that the coyote population has been there all along and it is the human population that has increased hence more sightings. As pointed out by the Journal’s reporter, Winthrop Quigley Albuquerque contains within its city limits several miles of the Rio Grande River and its ecosystem. This ecosystem not only supports coyotes but other animals and birds not normally associated with city life. From the previous Chicago article coyotes have evolved within large metropolitan areas to not just survive but thrive.
Why would human urban and city dwellers believe the wild life found in the country is not be able to exist along side of them? One thing is certain, nature abhors a vacuum! Invariably, when coyotes are hunted down almost as many will escape and go on to breed and expand into those now vacant territories. The coyote has proven itself to be wily and one of the better survivors in or out of the city! Just outside of our back fence is an abundance of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) acreage. An arroyo runs from west to east toward the Rio Grande River through the adjacent BLM land. The arroyo is a virtual highway mostly populated by coyotes. The temperatures have been cold at night warming during the day, frozen night time ground doesn’t produce many tracks though. The Coyote Cam has some great day light shots but work is needed to improve the night photographs. Every one have a great week and be sure to check that shadow moving along side you in the bushes.
Stay tuned there is more to come from the Coyote Cam!