Fabulous Big Ears: Five Photos, One Coyote

2015-05-13 2015-05-13 (4) 2015-05-13 (3) 2015-05-13 (2) 2015-05-13 (1)

She Watches Dogs Pass By Who in the Past Have Chased Her

noticing approaching dogs


to bark or not to bark — it’s a hard decision (video)


observing them carefully


happily, there’s no antagonistic activity this time; ho, hum


going, going, they’re GONE! — without incident!

This gal was in a field hunting when some late visitors to her park arrived with their dogs. Some of the dogs were leashed and some were not. Most unleashed dogs chase after coyotes, though some do not — they did not this time. Some of the dogs have chased her in the past and she remembers each and every chase and chaser. She waited, anticipating the worst, but it didn’t happen this time. On this day, coexistence worked really well here in San Francisco.

How Might A Lone Two-Year Old Urban Coyote Spend A Morning?

I spotted this fellow hunting intently at daybreak. He was out on his routine morning trek, and I wondered what else he might be up to on this particular morning. I decided to follow him for a while. It turned out to be an average day-in-the-life morning with the usual ups-and-downs which are commonplace for urban coyotes.

After not catching any prey at all, he headed over to a grassy field and watched some joggers. Here, a raven who didn’t like the coyote caught sight of him and let the coyote know it. The raven did this by sky-diving the coyote a couple of times and then by cackling unrelentingly at the coyote in a harassing sort of way from a branch overhead. “Okay, I’ll go!”

The coyote headed off again over a hill and into a less populated area of his park where he surveyed the landscape for exactly what was going on and where anyone — dog or person — might be. Here he hunted for a while until the sudden appearance of a jogger spooked him — so he hurried on his way.

As he continued on, he was encountered by another person, this time a walker with a dog. Both dog and coyote froze upon seeing each other — they watched each other intently. I asked the owner to please leash his dog, which he did, but then, thoughtlessly, as he walked on, probably thinking the dog would just walk with him, the owner unleashed his dog after only about ten paces. The dog immediately took advantage of this opportunity and went dashing after the coyote who was able to evade the dog lickety-split by running through and around the brush and bushes in the vicinity. The owner seemed dumbfounded that his dog had sneaked back and chased the coyote, but at this point the owner had no chance of getting that dog to return to him when called, so he just watched.

The coyote is one smart animal, and the dog is not so smart when it comes to chasing coyotes. As the dog went running and leaping in circles in all directions looking for the coyote, the coyote turned back to his starting point where he sat absolutely stone-still and watched the dog search for him. The dog soon tired and eventually joined his owner, but he kept looking back for the coyote which he never did find again. The coyote remained perfectly still, watching them, until the dog and owner were out of sight.

Well, maybe that was enough excitement for one morning, after all, the coyote had already reached the outer periphery of his territory, checked it out, hunted, and been chased by a dog. So he trotted back slowly to his safer home base area where I had encountered him earlier on.

On his way he continued to survey the area, stopping to hunt — unproductively — a couple of times. He also walked for several hundred feet in back of someone, not because he was following that person, but because this was his normal route, and the person would probably not notice him since he was behind him. Soon the walker veered off the coyote’s path, but as he did so another walker turned up on that same path right ahead. This time, there was no remaining on the path:  the coyote leaped several scores of feet off of and away from the path into a field. The walker saw the coyote but didn’t appear too interested in him.

Once he had reached a substantial distance from the path, the coyote again engaged in some hunting. Various walkers, some with and some without dogs, passed in the distance and took note of him. And the coyote, too, took note of each of them before finally turning around in a little circle and lying down. None of these dogs showed an interest in pursuing the coyote so he must have felt safe because he then dozed off — probably with one eye open — right in the middle of the field. He was not visible in the tall brown grasses when his head was down. He got up and moved a couple of times during the next hour, but he spent most of his time curled up with his head either up or down, and I wondered how long he would stay there.

Finally, after a spell of no activity at all in the park, some very slow walking dogs passed by and the coyote got up and started slowly walking towards them as if he were going to follow. When he did so, the owner and dogs changed directions. It appears that the coyote hadn’t wanted to go in that new direction because he then moved in the opposite direction from where they were going. At an easy and casual lope, he traveled over a hill where he hunted a little and then he trotted along a path until he reached some bushes into which he disappeared. My observations for this particular coyote outing had come to an end. I had watched him for a little over four hours.

Vittles For the Family: Over River and Dale With Grub In His Mouth

2015-06-09

He caught this vole, killed it, and headed home. At one point, his grasp wasn’t right, so he put down his prey in order to carry it more securely, or, perhaps, more comfortably.

Then the long trek home began — it would be about 1/2 mile over stream & dale, field & forest, meadow and sports field. When he saw a runner, he hurried off the path until the runner had gone by. When he saw a dog pack and their owners — all dogs were unleashed, he ducked behind some bushes and was not detected. He waited there for what seemed like an interminable amount of time, though it actually was probably only a few minutes. Finally he re-emerged to continue on his way, trotting, climbing, hurrying to where he wanted to go.

He went fast — I couldn’t keep up, but I could watch him in the distance using the zoom lens of my camera, still carrying his prey in his mouth as he trotted homeward.

He had to get by one last walker, but this was close to a secret passageway where he knew he couldn’t be followed. So he made a dash for it, right across the pathway of the walker who, I’m not surprised to say, didn’t even see him! People are often preoccupied with their own lives and forget to look around.

The coyote continued up a cliff and down again into his secret alcove, where he would deposit the vole in front of a hungry little pup, or in front of the pup’s mom, who then herself would offer the prey to one of her pups. The coyote’s outing had lasted an hour, and his trek back with food in his mouth had lasted almost 20 minutes minutes. This is what coyote family life is about.

2015-06-09

hunting

trekking along with grub in his mouth

Pupping Season: “Scary” Does Not Translate Into “Dangerous”, but Heed The Message!

2015-05-31 (1)

Hi Janet —

I had a very scary interaction with two coyotes in the heart of a park where the trail runs parallel to a dense brushy area. My dog Ginger and I were by ourselves, surrounded by two coyotes that would not go away. I jumped up and down, waving my arms allover the place and yelling and they didn’t budge. Finally one went into the bush but just stayed there and then the other on the trail started towards us.

I did the jumping yelling thing and the one backed away but turned around, started walking towards us again. Like 15 feet away.  Finally I just pulled Ginger’s leash tight to me and ran. I know you’re not supposed to  do that, but nothing else was working. We ran up to a knoll and were not followed there. It was getting dark, past 8pm, a bit scary indeed!

I wish that man was not doing that thing with his dog, challenging the coyote, corralling his dog to go after the coyotes. I have a feeling that sort of human behavior is a bad influence and perhaps contributed to this situation I had.

Scott


Hi Scott —

I’m sorry about your negative experience with the coyotes — and especially that it happened to you, a coyote sympathizer, even though it is best that it happened to you and not someone else with no feeling for the coyotes. In fact, you were being messaged to keep away from a den area.

Coyote messaging can be very, very scary — it’s got to be to be effective, otherwise dogs and people would just ignore the message. The coyotes  you encountered were not pursuing you and they were not out to hurt you or Ginger — they were keeping you from getting closer to something important. You were simply being told not to get any closer — to move away: “Go Away!”  But next time don’t run! Sometimes running will incite them to chase after you!

If and when a coyote doesn’t back up, it’s almost always because of a den, and it’s always best to shorten your leash and leave right away. If coyotes don’t move after one or two attempts to get them to move, this should be the protocol: leave the area. You don’t want to engage with a den-defending coyote because they will nip at a dog who cannot read their “standing guard” message — we already know that this is what they do, and by not listening to their simple message, you would actually be provoking an incident.

It’s an instinct, and really has nothing to do with the idiot who was attempting to force his dog on the coyotes. That is a totally unrelated issue which needs to be addressed.

Encountering a den-defending coyote always creates a lot of fear in people, and I understand why — it’s meant to.  People need to know about it, why it happens, and how to deal with it. It’s a situation which should always be walked away from, no different from what you would do if you saw a skunk with its tail raised, a dog warning you off, or a swarm of bees. We know how to read the messages from these animals, and we usually abide by the messages to keep the peace and not get stung or sprayed or bitten. We can do the same with coyotes. A defensive or protective coyote is only doing his job — such an encounter in no way means the animal is aggressive.

Janet

Roadkill Reports of Coyotes, by Fraser Shilling

Since 2009 hundreds of volunteer observers with the California Roadkill Observation System (CROS,http://wildlifecrossing.net/california) have reported almost 31,000 roadkilled animals on our roads and highways, representing 400 species of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Their effort has made CROS the largest system like it in the world. For certain mobile and easily recognized species, like coyotes, we can map occurrences of dead animals and start to figure out where they are getting hit most often and possibly why.

The map of roadkill coyote [to the left] is for 134 reported coyote carcasses, out of 723 reported for the whole state between 9/2009 and 4/2015. The # reported does not represent ALL occasions when coyotes were killed by cars, just a sample. Although we can’t say for sure yet, it looks like highways 101, 280, 680/84, 80, and 37 have stretches where more coyotes are hit. Please join the hundreds of CROS volunteers monitoring our roads and highways for roadkill to help protect drivers and wildlife from colliding. Feel free to contact CROS lead Fraser Shilling, just internet search him for his contact info.

Ring of death around urban centers [click on maps to enlarge for better viewing]

Being Stared At Causes Coyote To Skedaddle

2014-04-29

Coyotes often flee if they are stared at for too long. It makes them very uncomfortable. In the wild, a stranger staring at you might mean you’re about to be pursued and headed to become chow.

In this case I watched a man become enchanted with a coyote. He stopped and watched the coyote for what a coyote might consider an interminable long time. The coyote, on first being spotted, ran down a hill, but then kept an eye on the stranger from a rock he had found in a field. I could hear the coyote thinking, “Yep, the stranger is much too focused on me and there must be a reason.” Instead of waiting to find out, he skedaddled away with hind paws and tail flying.

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