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

Distressed Barking? from Andrew

Hi Janet — I just came across your web site and blog due to my curiosity about coyote communication. I live in the Eastern Sierra on a 50 acre “ranch” (no cattle, just my two dogs) at around 6000′ elevation. We’re surrounded by the Inyo National Forest in sagebrush/pinyon pine country.  The property is fenced with 5 foot “dog-proof” field roll fencing. My dogs will oftentimes howl along with the local coyotes in the distance, but over the past month I’ve been hearing a coyote just outside my bedroom window. The ranch has a lot of rabbits and quail, and I can see why coyotes would pay us a visit now and then. Tonight, about 40 yards outside my window, a coyote was doing a high pitch sort of barking, and so I went online to research what the bark might mean. The barking sounded exactly like that in your “Distressed Barking after Interference from a Dog”. The coyote carried on barking for about 15 minutes, and my dogs barked along for awhile but eventually stopped while the coyote continued.

I’m not sure what to make of this; my dogs are contained within a 20 x 40 foot fenced area adjacent to my house and wouldn’t seem to pose a threat to a coyote. Perhaps the coyote got over or under the perimeter fence around the ranch and then couldn’t find its way out? But I had heard a coyote near my house several times before over the past month, so if it’s the same one I would guess that it knew its way in and out. Also, it had never barked like that (distress or alarm bark). I have no problems with coyotes, and enjoy hearing them. I know you focus on coyotes in an urban environment, but thanks for the site and the info!  Regards, Andrew

Hi Andrew — I enjoyed your email — thanks for writing! I, too, am fascinated by coyote communication. I’m wondering if the distressed barking might have been directed at another coyote rather than at your dogs? This coyote might have been guarding its turf against another coyote who was passing through?! It’s hard to tell without knowing the whole situation, but coyotes don’t like interloper coyotes in their areas, especially one that might have threatened it on some level. Then again, one of your dogs might have simply spooked or surprised the coyote in some way which set off the barking — that happens. Maybe someone else who reads this will be able to suggest another possibility. Thanks for sharing this. It’s nice hearing about your slightly different rural situation. If you heard a change in the type of bark, something different definitely was going on.  Janet

Fur Changes

Winter fur is taking on its very full look at this time of year. The fur will remain thick and long through the winter months and then will start shedding in the springtime. By the end of June coyotes are looking pretty ragged and scrawny because of their sparse fur.

Compare these two photos, one taken in October and the other taken at the end of June. Colors and markings also become muted when the fur is at its sparsest, and this is when you can see their true size: they are scrawny little things weighing 25 to 30 pounds — the rest is all fluff!

Lapping Up The Dew

It was fun watching this coyote cross an entire grassy soccer field with it’s head lowered to the ground as it walked, slurping up the dew that was soaking the grass. I wonder if this was something like drinking through a straw?!

Grunting More Than Huffing Here

This video, again, shows the reaction of a coyote to a hostile dog appearing on a path about 200 feet away. Coyotes seem not to be bothered by dogs that have never bothered them. So when a dog appears that causes a coyote to react this way, it is because of the dog’s previous behaviors — a coyote always remembers each dog and its behaviors, be it a blatant antagonism, or something more subtle like a “dirty look”.  I’ve seen this over and over again. By the time I got the camera set up, most of the grunting was over — it had gone on for over a minute.  The grunts are very audible in this video. Fortunately the walker and his dog veered off the path and left the area, so the grunting just petered out, as in the last video I posted. The coyote  took the opportunity to lie down right there where it was camouflaged by the tall grasses. Coyotes frequently are right there in the open, but you can’t see them!

Shortly after this grunting episode, another dog and walker — with a history of being hostile and antagonistic towards coyotes — appeared in the distance. The coyote heard them coming and stood up, waited until they were in sight, and, before being seen by them, trotted off into some bushes rather than wait for the possibility of an encounter. I’m sure if the coyote had stayed down, it would not have been seen, but it chose not to take this chance.

One might wonder why a coyote would be out when dog walkers are out. Do  rodents tend to stick their noses out more during certain times, making hunting more successful at these times? I don’t know, it’s just a guess. Also, though, coyotes seem to want to get a glimpse of what is going on in “their” territories before hunkering down for the day.

The Huffing Continued

This is actually a continuation of the last posting on “Coyote Huffing”. I should have included it in that posting. By the time I took this second video, the coyote had sat down. But you can still see the movements of her throat, huffing and puffing, during the first 13 seconds of the clip. The activity is very quiet, barely audible, if at all in the clip, but nonetheless audible in real life. In this case, after the huffing stopped, at 13 seconds into the clip, the coyote calmed down and the matter was forgotten for the time being. The coyote soon got up and continued her slow trek towards one of her snoozing spots.

Coyote Huffing

The coyote was minding its own business, looking for a possible meal on a grassy area. Occasionally she would look up to watch walkers in the distance. Then, suddenly an unleashed dog caught her eye. The unleashed dog glared at her giving her a feeling of uneasiness. This dog has regularly chased the coyote in the past, and, of course, the coyote remembers all such incidents. Fortunately, the owner saw what was happening and was able to grab the dog.

However, the coyote remained upset — it is not easy for anyone to turn around their fears and uneasiness on a dime. After running over to a bush, she watched as the dog and walker left, but her emotions were running high. She sat there, huffing her discontentment. Notice her throat area which shows the huffing after she reached the bush. Very often, this kind of soft huffing segue’s into a loud and distressed barking session. It did not happen this time probably because the dog left, though that is no assurance that the barking won’t happen anyway. This adult coyote, whom I have seen and know to be an “alpha” coyote — was openly displaying her feelings. In fact, whenever you see a coyote in some kind of fired-up state, it is expressing its feelings — and these feelings are a reaction to the situation at hand.

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