01 Jan 2010 9 Comments
in coexisting with coyotes, coyote behavior Tags: coyote behavior, coyote coexistence, coyote coexistence guidelines, coyotes, coyotes and dogs, coyotes as neighbors, dogs and coyotes, living with coyotes, urban coyotes
01 Jan 2010 6 Comments
ACTUAL BLOG WITH LATEST POST BEGINS BELOW
08 Feb 2016 2 Comments
I’ve been mulling over the concept of “anthropomorphizing”: attributing human feelings and emotions to animals and inanimate objects. And yes, it’s true that the wind and the pumpkins in these photos do not actually have the human attributes we humans have assigned to them — these are indeed anthropomorphisms.
However, I see many emotions and much intelligence and rampant individuality in the coyotes I observe, and many of these characteristics are similar if not the same ones we humans have. I’m not arbitrarily imposing uniquely-human characteristics — anthropomorphizing — on these animals. Rather, I recognize, as do many observers, drives and behaviors which are clearly similar to ours. As animals ourselves, we share some basic characteristics with other animals, including the need to eat, sleep, self-protect, raise our young, care for one another, defend families. I’m saying that behind these activities lie the same feelings, sensations and emotions which make us engage in these things: hunger, sleepiness, care, love, anger. You can’t truly understand these animals until you recognize the similarities, and then magic and real understanding open up. I’ve come to see coyotes as living lives different from ours, but parallel to our own — not dissimilar from the Hobbits over in the Shire.
Anyone who has a dog knows animals are bundles of emotions, yet some animal behaviorists are reluctant to admit this because their disciplines don’t allow it –there’s little way to determine it under controlled laboratory conditions and no way to quantify it, and also, they want humans to stand alone at the apex, as unique in the world, in the “Aristotelian” model which became woven into the doctrine of the church, where Man stood apart — Man alone had been made in the image of God. Anthropocentrism places humans at the center of the world saying we are the only ones with emotions, brains, etc, and that we can’t possibly attribute these to other species because we can’t prove it.
But we can’t even exactly define our own human emotions — this doesn’t mean we don’t have them! The “love” you have for someone is totally different from the “love” I have for someone, and your “love” for the out-of-doors is not the same as your “love” for your child.
Psychologists, on the other hand, as opposed to animal behaviorists, know animals have similar emotions to humans, and have even used animal studies — often cruel studies — to understand human behaviors, such as the effects of early maternal deprivation on the human psyche.
In the same vein, and on the flip side of the coin, I think it’s telling that humans like measuring animals’ intelligences based on our own unique standards which we presume to be at the top of a pyramid. For instance, learning and manipulating symbols or the use of language as we human animals use it, is often considered the summit of intelligence. Behaviorists have written about the monkey who could learn and manipulate 400 symbols, on a screen or as objects — the bright little bugger! Haven’t humans shown their OWN limitations by their anthropocentrism there? In fact, if we were to use a chimpanzee standard on ourselves, there are instances where we might fall far below on the intelligence scale. For instance, chimps have a far superior short-term memory to that of humans, as shown by their consistent ability to reproduce ten items on a screen from memory whereas humans cannot. And they can be better at strategic reasoning than are humans, as seen in a recent study led by Tetsuro Matsuzawa of the Kyoto University Primate Research Institute. See www. Animals.io9.com.
It is only very recently that humans have begun cracking the Rosetta Stone of animal communication, emotion and their amazing intelligence. By embracing a world order which created a strong divide between humans and other critters in regards to intelligence and feelings, we limited our own ability to learn more about both these other animals and ourselves. When it comes to the idea of human supremacy, we humans have a history of sidelining and persecuting those offering new discoveries that turn established doctrine on its head: Galileo with his telescopes proved Copernicus’ discoveries that it was not the earth (and by extension, Man), which was the center of the universe, but rather the sun around which other planets revolved. The Inquisition put Galileo under house arrest for the rest of his life and forced him to recant. Society was not ready to accept it. Now that we have begun, barely begun, this investigation, we are making astonishing discoveries about animals, and we are surprised and incredulous. For instance, in the realm of emotions and memory, elephants come out way ahead of humans (and so do octopi).
In writing up my observations I include shared characteristics, feelings, and behaviors that I observe. This helps people better understand and relate to the animals. People tend to care about what they can relate to. As I said above, there is still a divide between scientists — between animal behaviorists who don’t want to assign emotions and intelligence and individuality, and psychologists who do. My thought is that you can begin from the premise that animals and humans do have the same drives and feelings, or you can begin from the premise that they are completely dissimilar. It’s hard to prove either premise quantitatively, but simple observation will show you incredible similarities if you are willing to take the time to really look and understand.
25 Jan 2016 Leave a comment
If you live anywhere close to a park, you are bound to see a coyote on a road now and then, usually in the early morning or very late afternoon, and you are bound to hear them howling now and then, and the howling could be occurring right on your street, under your window, at midnight! Coyotes howl for any number of reasons, including to communicate. Coyotes will often howl when they are distressed, for instance, when they’ve been chased by a dog, or if one (usually a youngster) has lost contact with a parent. I’ve heard one go on for 40 minutes. Of course they also howl in response to sirens, just to join the chorus!
Coyotes trek through their territory every day during the evening hours. Their territories include the vast areas around their park, including open spaces between houses. What they are doing is searching for hunting areas and marking their territories. Marking their territories is how they keep other coyotes out of their territories — their population density is thus kept stable and low. Coyotes need generally about a square mile of territory per coyote to survive.
Almost always, there is only one resident coyote family in any particular urban park in San Francisco — large parks like the Presidio or Golden Gate Park may have more than one. Based on my observations over the last 9 years, I would say that the number of individuals in these families ranges on average between two and five coyotes, and is constantly in flux, up and down between these numbers. The higher number reflects pups who have not yet dispersed. Pups disperse anywhere from one to three years of age.
Know that coyotes pose virtually no threat to humans unless they are hand-fed or unless a dog owner gets between his dog and a coyote, which could result in a bite or scratch to the dog owner. Coyotes want to avoid humans. On the other hand, pets pose problems in coyote areas. Nevertheless, it’s easy to avoid mishaps with pets by following some simple guidelines. Coexistence is what is going on throughout the country in urban areas because it is easy and it works. Coexistence is about educating the public about what coyote behaviors they should be aware of, and giving simple guidelines to help it work.
Keep your beloved pets indoors at night and don’t allow them to roam free. Don’t leave any type of food out which might encourage a coyote to linger rather than just trek on. When in the park, please leash up if you see a coyote and walk away from it — and don’t allow your pet to chase coyotes. Remember that pupping season is coming up, and whether or not you’ll have pups in your specific park, coyotes become more protective of their space during this time if they are intruded upon by a dog. Please watch the all-in-one video presentation, “Coyotes As Neighbors” which can be found at the top of the Coyotecoexistence.com website page. If you have any questions, please contact me, Janet, or any of the folks at CCC at email@example.com. Someone there will try to help with any concerns you have.
20 Jan 2016 Leave a comment
Laurel loves her dogs, and she loves our urban wildlife, including the coyotes. She knows that raccoons and coyotes go a-trekking in the evenings, and sometimes even during daylight hours. “A predator-proof enclosure allows the family dogs safe, secure, anytime outdoor access between naps on the couch and outings to the dog park”. But the dog run was not predator-proof initially. She changed that so that now it is. Laurel is dedicated to saving dogs, raccoons and coyotes, and her creative solution is depicted in this photo.
It was after seeing a coyote trot through her front yard one evening, and reading reports of aggressive raccoons, that this San Francisco resident wanted to ensure the safety of the family’s three dogs. The pet door goes out to a ramp that leads into the dog run, which is now totally secure on the top and sides. “Our dogs are a part of the family and it gives us peace of mind for potty breaks even in the middle of the night”, reports Laurel. The dog-run’s most recent update is a black coating of paint, which actually makes it almost invisible when looking out of the solarium overlooking it.
An added benefit of this design is that two dogs who don’t get along can be let out at the same time because of the way it is partitioned. This helps with when a family member brings his/her antagonistic dog to visit while they go on a family trip. Laurel also walks dogs through her organization: Golden Gate Dog Walking, in San Francisco.
11 Jan 2016 4 Comments
Thank you, Carl Safina for, as a scientist, writing about what is so obvious to many of us who have come to know wild animals by spending hours observing them.
I’ve been studying coyotes for almost a decade now, and I see some pretty basic similarities between ourselves and our lives, and the lives of coyotes. They are immensely social, they mate for life, they have rivalries and joys, they tease each other, they play, they work together, they care for and take care of each other, both parents raise the young and spend a huge amount of time teaching them how to be successful in their environments, they show immense affection . . . and anger, they have agendas, they defend their turf, they have territories from which other coyotes are excluded. They even play tricks on each other. Each coyote has his/her own unique personality and characteristics and no two are alike. I, as Carl, have been delving into “WHO” these animals are — as a species and as individuals. Please read these reviews about Carl’s book, and then delve into the book itself!
Humans Aren’t Special: Carl Safina’s “Beyond Words” Delves Deep Into Animal Minds: http://www.popsci.com/humans-arent-special-carl-safinas-beyond-words-delves-deep-animal-minds
Carl Safina Makes A Case for Anthropomorphism. The marine biologist’s latest book uses science to show that animals, like people, have complex inner lives: https://www.audubon.org/news/carl-safina-makes-case-anthropomorphism
“I wanted to know what they were experiencing, and why to us they feel so compelling, and so-close. This time I allowed myself to ask them the question that for a scientist was forbidden fruit: Who are you?”
Weaving decades of field observations with exciting new discoveries about the brain, Carl Safina’s landmark book offers an intimate view of animal behavior to challenge the fixed boundary between humans and nonhuman animals. In Beyond Words, readers travel to Amboseli National Park in the threatened landscape of Kenya and witness struggling elephant families work out how to survive poaching and drought, then to Yellowstone National Park to observe wolves sort out the aftermath of one pack’s personal tragedy, and finally plunge into the astonishingly peaceful society of killer whales living in the crystalline waters of the Pacific Northwest.
Beyond Words brings forth powerful and illuminating insight into the unique personalities of animals through extraordinary stories of animal joy, grief, jealousy, anger, and love. The similarity between human and nonhuman consciousness, self-awareness, and empathy calls us to re-evaluate how we interact with animals. Wise, passionate, and eye-opening at every turn, Beyond Words is ultimately a graceful examination of humanity’s place in the world.
06 Jan 2016 Leave a comment
We’ve just been through a four-year drought here in San Francisco, so the recent, incessant heavy rains are ever so welcome by everyone, including coyotes who know that gophers and voles are easier caught when they’ve been drowned out of their extensive underground tunnels.
Here’s a photo of a coyote in a field, comfortably sprawled out and waiting for a park straggler and his dog to depart so that he can begin his hunting. The dog was an older black Lab and, although this coyote and the dog have a respectful “stand off” relationship, the dog nevertheless barked his displeasure at seeing the coyote contentedly lying there in the field, and even approached within about 50 feet of the coyote. But the coyote just remained where he was, in the pouring rain, standing his ground, until the park visitors left. Folks don’t usually hang out in the pouring rain, and the coyote was counting on this.
As these last stragglers left the area, the coyote moved to a higher vantage point, where he remained until no one was in sight. He then got up and combed the field, back and forth, looking for gophers, and marking now and then. I, also, left because of the driving rain, so I was unable to count his hunting successes.
Several weeks later I spotted this same coyote during another downpour. He quickly and without much effort caught himself a full meal and then settled down to eat it — in the pouring rain. Notice the very drenched gopher he caught.