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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!