FIRST: Coyote Coexistence Guidelines and Safety Information

A ONE-STOP INFORMATION VIDEO on urban coyotes: coyote behavior and how to coexist with them, how to shoo them off from a dog, and why killing them does not solve issues. Updated 6-13-2013.[A shorter version may be seen at: http://youtu.be/1Kxl31nX0rc] Para la versión en Español, haz clic aquí: http://youtu.be/FjVGKwLiYG4

2014-04-20

coyotes

A Quote Worth Pondering

“If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other.  If you do not talk to them you will not know them, and what you do not know you will fear.  What one fears one destroys.”      Chief Dan George

Charles Wood, a frequent contributor to Coyote Yipps, adds: “I want to try and express Chief Dan George’s words a little differently, though I believe the meaning is the same: ‘If you talk to the animals they will talk to you and you will come to know them. When you come to know them, you will love them, with respect, without fear. What one fears one destroys. What one loves one defends.'”

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Pocket Gophers: Staple Chow for Coyotes

Cute gophers are part of the food chain of life. When you think about it, it’s really weird: species eat each other up. We all need the energy from the sun to live, but only plants can eat sunlight — no animals can do this. So some animals eat plants to get this energy and other animals eat those animals, and on it goes up the food chain.

Well, anyway, here’s a cute little gopher. Until eaten, it lives its life mostly underground, digging tunnels and grabbing plants.

HERE ARE SOME FACTS ABOUT THEM:

They get their name, pocket gopher, from their fur-lined cheek pouches, or pockets which they use to carry food. The pockets on a gopher open on the outside and turn inside out for emptying and cleaning.

Adults are 8 inches long, including their 2-inch tail. The males are larger and can weigh up to 2.2 pounds — double the weight of females.  They live from one to three years, with most of the population being young adults.

Gophers are vegetarians. They eat roots, trees, shrubs, grass and plants they encounter while digging underground, and they eat the leaves and stems of plants around their tunnel entrances, sometimes pulling entire plants into their tunnels. Gophers are able to obtain enough moisture from their food, so they don’t need a source of open water.

They build intricate underground tunnel systems using their front legs and long teeth to push dirt out of their tunnels. Gophers like to be alone and only one gopher will be found in a tunnel system.

For their tunneling lifestyle, they are equipped with large-clawed front paws, small eyes and ears, and sensitive whiskers that assist with movement in the dark. Their sparsely haired tails—which also serve as a sensory mechanism—help gophers run backward almost as fast as they can run forward. Their large front teeth are used to loosen soil and rocks while digging, and to cut roots.

Gophers can move about a ton of soil to the surface each year! Their tunnels are built and extended, then gradually fill up with soil as they are abandoned.

They benefit the areas where they live, increasing soil fertility by mixing plant material and fecal wastes into the soil, by aerating or tilling the soil with their tunneling activity, which also brings minerals up to the soils surface, and they serve as food for a variety of animals including owls, coyotes, weasels, and snakes. They prevent erosion because their burrows hold water from heavy rains instead of it running over the surface.

They breed in the springtime, producing one litter of 3-7 pups per year. The nesting chamber is about 10 inches in diameter lined with dried vegetation. The young leave after 5-6 weeks, wandering off above ground to form their own territories. Densities range from 2 to 20 gophers per acre depending on food availability.

Many mammals, large birds, and snakes eat gophers and depend on their tunnels to create safer living conditions. Salamanders, toads, and other creatures seeking cool, moist conditions take refuge in unoccupied gopher burrows. Lizards use abandoned gopher burrows for quick escape cover.

Gophers are captured at their burrow entrances by pets, coyotes, foxes and bobcats. They are cornered IN their burrows by badgers, weasels, skunks, and snakes. They are captured above ground by raptors.

A Coyote Encounter – with Dogs – from One Of Our Readers

One of our CoyoteYipps visitors sent us a description, and took the attached two short videos involving a coyote encounter with dogs. I am reposting the comments and videos because they display normal coyote behavior that everyone needs to be aware of if they have a dog. More often than not, a coyote will simply flee when it sees a walker with dogs approaching it, but there are times when it may react as it did to Samira. Coyotes are territorial animals. This is still  pupping season for coyotes — it’s a time when coyotes are particularly protective of their areas.

Hi Janet —
Today I had an encounter with a coyote that unsettled me. I was walking my two dogs, one very large (~90lbs) German Shepherd, and one medium-sized Beagle/Cattle Dog mix (~40lbs) on a wooded path. I never see other people walk here, so I let them go unleashed. About five minutes in, we came across a coyote who barked, howled, and followed us. My dogs immediately started chasing the coyote, and when I called them back to me, the coyote followed. Since I thought the coyote was heading in the opposite direction, I continued further into the woods, but it continued to follow us. Though my dogs have good recall, they seemed unable to resist the urge to chase the coyote (particularly since the coyote was acting surprisingly playful) and the cycle of chase-return-follow happened several more times. My German Shepherd in particular was enjoying himself; normally he is very wary and protective and often takes offense to other dogs at first sight. It honestly surprised me that he didn’t attack. Though we didn’t appear to be in any danger, the fact that the coyote was so doggedly following us (it even went as far as the asphalt path next to the road as we exited) made me nervous, and I booked it out of there was fast as I could.

I’m having trouble understanding if the coyote’s behavior was as playful as it seemed to be, or if it was (as you’ve mentioned in this blog) meant to “escort” us out of its territory. Is it safe for us to go back? I’ve walked them there many times without any incident, albeit during the mid-afternoon (today we got there around 6pm, later than usual).

I’ve uploaded two videos:


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Hi Samira –

Thanks for writing about your encounter. The videos you sent are excellent in that they depict exactly what can go on when you encounter a coyote with dogs. What you encountered was normal coyote behavior. Dogs and coyotes don’t like each other — it’s important to keep them apart. It’s a good idea to keep your dogs leashed once you see a coyote — please don’t allow your dogs to chase them. If it followed you to the edge of the forest, it was assuring itself that you were indeed leaving the area. It could have been a youngster coyote who was curious about your dogs, but more likely, the coyote could have been trying to divert you away from youngsters in the area by making you focus on it.

If you don’t want to walk elsewhere, when you do walk through this forest, please make sure to leash and keep walking until you are out of the area. With your dogs leashed and next to you, the coyote is unlikely to approach. You have a large dog and a medium size dog — still bigger than coyotes who weigh 20-40 pounds — on the East Coast they are slightly larger. Also, you have two dogs which constitute a “pack”. When dogs are part of a pack, they are much more self-assured and they work together. They can do incredible damage. It is the coyote which is endangered by this situation, not your dogs. Also, you should be armed with knowledge of how to shoo off a coyote if it gets too close to you: you can see how to do this by watching the video at the top of the coyoteyipps home page. Please let me know if you have any more questions. Also, may I post your videos on the blog? — the more people who see this as a potentiality, the better they can be prepared to deal with it. Thank you! Janet
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Hi Samira,

Going just by the short videos the coyote doesn’t come off to me as wanting to play. I too have had encounters like yours, over several years with a coyote couple and their children. Janet has been kind enough to let me post pictures and video on her blog and my coyote encounters almost always involved dog, human (my dogs and me), and coyotes messaging their territorial concerns to us. So the way I interpret your coyote’s behavior is that he is herding your dogs out of the area. (Actually you were doing the herding by calling your dogs back.) It’s hard to know with any certainty, but there may be something in that particular area the coyote cares enough about to claim and it looks to me like me may be broadcasting his claim to your dogs. Charles
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Thank you for the response! I probably won’t return to this area of the woods anytime soon – we have a lot of other spots to choose from. And yes, you can use my videos. For reference, we are in Eastern MA, in a suburban neighborhood.

Apples, Blackberries and Pears, Oh My!

This fella found quite a smorgasbord this morning, all within the space of about 4 square feet! He must have been in coyote heaven. Right after he had picked up and eaten some voles without expending much effort, he walked just a couple of feet to a patch of fruit. There were blackberries, apples and pears either on the vines and trees which he could reach, or just lying around on the ground where they had fallen. I watched him eat one and then another and then another and . . .

He ate for a long time. He ate standing most of the time, but for a while he ate lying down in the cool ivy under the fruit trees. He crunched through the apples and pears the way we would, chomping on mouthfuls at a time, and sometimes taking bites that were too big so that part of the fruit fell to the ground. Then he got up and walked away. There was still plenty of fruit left lying on the ground by the time he departed, so I guess he had his fill!

As he ate, he kept his eyes up, high above himself, and on the lookout constantly. I wondered what was going on above him!? I never did figure it out for sure. It crossed my mind that at one time he may have been hit by falling fruit — a la Chicken Little. I have seen gum nuts fall off of Eucalyptus trees which startled coyotes enough to make them run. Or, it could have been a waving tree branch which he was wary of. Coyotes appear not to like things moving over themselves.

 

Change is Highly Unsettling

This coyote knows her territory like you know the back of your hand — she knows every inch of it — cold! So she’s going to notice all changes.

All changes are unsettling to her. Change is an indicator that something is going on which might be harmful to her. A while back I watched as she followed her usual path. She suddenly stopped, seemingly dumbfounded, and stared straight ahead. Then she turned her head, pensively, as if she were thinking about what it was which was so different. SOMETHING was very different but she couldn’t tell WHAT.

It was a “repaired” retaining wall, which, as a temporary measure, consisted of a burlap covering. It had been all green ivy before the change. She stood absolutely still as she stared at the change.  Then she looked around in back of herself, keeping her head turned as if she had to think some more about it by looking away, possibly trying to remember why she had this tremendous “uneasy” feeling. She examined it one more time before turning around and going the other way. Better not to take a chance with something that makes you this anxious.

In A Wheat Field, Excellently Camoflauged

coyote is in the center of the photo in case you have trouble finding it

coyote asleep in a wheat field

Here’s a little fella who looked up at me before plopping down onto the ground and out of sight right there in front of me as I watched. If you didn’t know he was there you would not have seen him. From most angles I could not see him, even though I knew exactly where he was!  It is only because he moved a little that I was able to relocate him again.

For a while he engaged in some scratching and grooming. Then he was down and out and unfindable again!

 

 

Eagle Owl Lands

Wow! I’m into eagles and owls this week. I tend to like our predators. Here, an Eagle Owl approaches in slow motion and then extends and spreads its incredible talons to grab its perch. I had to share this!! Enjoy!

Our Revered American Bald Eagle Was Once Maligned — and killed — For The Exact Same “Transgressions” As Are Coyotes Today

2013-06-26 Did you know that our now protected American Bald Eagles were at one time vilified as murderers and vermin in the not too distant past? They were imagined to be grave threats to sheep and small livestock and competitors for fish and game birds. Around the turn of the century they and other bird and animal predators were being eradicated. Sounds like a coyote story, doesn’t it?!

bald-eagle_1_600x450“Newspapers printed exaggerated stories of bald eagles attacking small children, blinding, disfiguring or even carrying them away in their claws, like a 3-year-old girl named Nettie in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., in 1896. (An older girl was said to have stopped the attack by stabbing the bird in the head with her hatpin.) In 1901, The Los Angeles Times described an eagle seizing a 6-month-old baby. The child’s mother, Emma Goulding, reportedly chased the bird for eight miles on mule-back, then climbed a rocky cliff toward its nest, deflecting attacks from both the eagle and its mate as she ascended, killing both. Eventually, Mrs. Goulding found her baby lying in the eagles’ nest unharmed, then tore her skirt up, fashioned it into a rope, and rappelled them both down to safety.”

“By the 1920s, all this vitriol and killing was pushing the bald eagle toward extinction. Early conservationists, trying to warn the public about the eagle’s predicament, found it challenging to defuse all the hatred that had gathered around the bird. Slowly, of course, public opinion turned in the bald eagle’s favor for a variety of reasons, few of which had anything to do intrinsically with bald eagles. The environmental historian Mark V. Barrow Jr. points out that passage of the first national law to protect eagles, the Bald Eagle Protection Act, in 1940, was partly a byproduct of newly booming patriotism on the cusp of World War II. And in the ’60s, the bird became a sympathetic poster child for the new, pernicious form of damage that the pesticide DDT and other pollutants were leveling on the environment. It was one of the first species listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1973.”

Read more about how “we manipulate and manage the world’s wild things to reflect our ideas about what’s right and wrong, about what belongs in nature and what’s an abomination” in Jon Mooallem’s NYT article about “Streaming Eagles”:  http://mobile.nytimes.com/blogs/opinionator/2014/06/20/streaming-eagles/

I wanted to include this article to show that the treatment of eagles was so similar to the way coyotes are being treated in many areas of North America today — and all based, not on truth, but on what folks WANT to believe: Folks seem to WANT to malign them by saddling them with all sorts of untruths. Let’s learn who they are and what they are really like. And let’s stop “managing” our wildlife and just let it be. Nature can manage itself. We need to learn that animals are not bad, they just “are”, and we need to learn to live with it the way it is.

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