Leg Injury

December 3rd is the first time I noticed a mild limp in the right back leg of this coyote youngster. I didn’t see this fellow for a few days, and then the next time I saw him the limp had become full blown: the coyote stayed by the bushes, moved only a little bit, and when he did move, that back leg was held up as he hopped into protective underbrush cover. The possibilities are that the injury might have been inflicted by his dominant sibling — this would not be uncommon, but just as likely he could have been hit by a car or motorbike, or gotten the leg caught or twisted in a fence or something similar. Another possibility is that an infection has developed.

What should be done when an injury is detected? Nothing, unless absolutely necessay. The first consideration is that trying to capture a wild animal produces an extreme amount of stress in the animal: his belief would be that he is being caught to be eaten. So no animal is ever captured unless the injury or illness is much more painful and stressful than the capturing procedure. Almost all wild animal ailments heal by themselves. The signs I’m watching for are drinking, eating and movement. If any one of these is not occurring, we’ll call for help — our humane societies are well equipped to handle this situation if the condition should worsen — I have spoken to them in detail about it and been advised what to keep an eye on.

How to tell if the animal isn’t eating? It will become thin very quickly — coyotes have little fat to sustain themselves. So the bones would poke out, but also the lack of protein would cause the fur to lose luster and become patchy and dull. These are the signs of malnutrition to keep an eye out for.

The good news is that the leg appears to be already healing — this is about one week after I first noticed the limp. Weight is being put on it when the coyote walks, even though it is still held up for the most part when the animal is running. The injury has not impeded the coyote’s movement from one end of the park to the other, so we feel he’ll be fine.

Notice the ears as this fellow as he sits up on the hillside. They are way down and to the sides. The low ears may be a sign that he’s dejected. Everyone could help by making absolutely sure that this fellow is not pursued by their dogs as he tries to heal.

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