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.

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!

 

 

Goodwill Teasing!

There was almost no light, and there were tall grasses between the camera and the coyotes, so these photos are totally washed out and blurry. However, the behavior depicted in them is absolutely fabulous: I decided it was worth it to post them, so I enhanced them as best I could.

A little female yearling coyote “teases” her dad and then her brother by affectionately stretching herself on top of them, and either nuzzling their legs as in the case of her father, or nuzzling their ears, as in the case of her brother! Her behavior was good-willed fun. It was not meant to provoke any kind of reaction — it was simply a display of her affectionate teasing. It looks like this little gal has two BFFs!!

She had been out alone, whiling away the time until the daily family get-together/rendezvous time.

Then her brother appeared and he was absolutely ecstatic to see her. He seemed to “jump for joy” as she and their dad approached him: first he performed one bounce, then one squiggle sitting down, and finally a jump, squiggle and bounce all at the same time!

2014-06-17 (8)Then they all piled up together where there were the usual kisses/nose-touches and wiggly-squiggly movements which are a dead giveaway for the excitement and joy they were feeling.

 

After the general excitement of the initial encounter and greeting died down, the female youngster “hopped on Pop”. It was affectionate contact that they both soaked up. She then twisted her head down and around him and gave him little love nuzzles and bites on his legs. Wow!

The three then broke out into an intense play session: they chased each other wildly, they wrestled, they groomed each other — no photos because the movement in tall grasses with no light just shows blurs. These are all activities which regularly follow the initial rendezvous greetings after spending the day apart sleeping.

During the intensive play period, the female youngster jumped on her brother, as she had done to her dad earlier. Only this time she tugged at one of his ears and then the other, teasing him affectionately.

They played intensively some more and then ran off and out of sight. They would spend the night trekking!

 

photos 6-17pm

Profile by Joel Engardio for the San Francisco Examiner

2014-01-10 at 16-16-29

get-attachmentA COYOTE WHISPERER FOR URBAN COYOTES: For seven years, 64-year-old Janet Kessler has been voluntarily observing and photographing urban coyote behavior throughout San Francisco’s parks. She regularly logs six hours a day, taking up to 600 pictures. “People think coyotes are vermin, dangerous or the big bad wolf,” Kessler said. “But they’re wonderful animals we can live with if we treat them with respect and take the right precautions.”

Read full essay: http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/woman-on-first-name-basis-with-sf-coyotes/Content?oid=2815528

Coexistence in Niagara Falls, with Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada

That coexistence with coyotes is working and that more and more folks are embracing it and helping to make it work is now a growing trend! Working tirelessly on this trend is Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada, a preeminent leader in this effort.

Lesley is helping to get crucial and much needed information out to the public. Coyotes live in almost all urban, suburban and rural areas, and it’s extremely easy to get along with them: it takes just a little bit of education and some minor precautions to accomplish a very peaceful coexistence and to dispel unwarranted fears.

Here is an interview with Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada, and the Mayor of Niagara Falls. For more information about Lesley’s organization, visit her website: CoyoteWatchCanada.com. Thank you Les for your fantastic efforts!

 

 

The Marin Non-Lethal Predator Management Program — A Win-Win Program for Farmers, Ranchers and Coyotes

My Yipps blog is about urban coyotes. I describe coyote behavior in and of itself, and how it manifests itself in relation to humans and pets in urban centers. For instance, we can better understand coyote behavior by knowing that they are family minded animals who have a claim to their territories. By learning to understand them, we can create and follow simple guidelines which will help us better get along with them.

In rural areas, there are ranchers and farmers who also need to learn to coexist with coyotes. But the circumstances are different between urban and rural coexistence. In rural settings, livestock needs to be protected where there are no humans around. Killing them — which has been a standard management method of the past — simply doesn’t work: the more coyotes that are killed, the more seem to pop up, and livestock continues to be inflicted with the same predation numbers.

A pioneer in changing the way we manage rural coyote issues is Mary Paglieri and her Little Blue Society. She introduced the non-lethal predator management program to Marin County, California in 2000, with her innovative Guardian Shepherd Program which aims for a win-win solution for all stakeholders, including coyotes. Thank you, Mary! 82502933_scaled_450x295 The old management program became an issue when a coalition of animal welfare and rights organizations were locked in a contentious battle with the county and ranchers over the county contract with the Federal Wildlife Services and their use of Compound 1080 — a poison to control predators. Little Blue Society was contacted by the Marin Agricultural Commissioner, Stacey Carlsen, to design a program that would offer a win-win solution for all stakeholders, including the predators.

Mary created and presented a solution, her non-lethal Guardian Shepherd Program, to the Marin Board of Supervisors in October of 2000. This agency then voted to adopt it for The County and to sunset the Federal Wildlife Service’s contract (item 21) meeting-minutes. Mary was able to show the scientific soundness and superior effectiveness of using nonlethal control of predators and other wildlife that interfere with livestock operations for reducing sheep loss without any negative impacts to the local ecosystem.

With the help of various stakeholders, the agricultural commissioner tailored Mary’s Guardian Shepherd Program to the needs of the West Marin sheep ranching community and it was included in The County’s 5-year plan: (section 6) Marin County Livestock and Predator Protection Plan. This program is designed to protect nature while protecting livelihoods and economic activities. It builds self-sufficient ecologically sustainable ranching communities and is now being touted as a national model. Kudos to Mary for a solution that benefits everyone!

To find out more, visit: http://littlebluesociety.org/700183.html  

 

It’s Baby Coyote Season

2014-04-16 (4)

At this time of year, youngster coyotes are being found and taken to wildlife rehabilitation centers. Most of them need to be left where they are: coyote parents leave their youngsters for long stretches of time as they themselves go off hunting. If you see what you think is an abandoned coyote pup, leave it in place, but check on it for 24 hours. You’ll be surprised at how, in most instances, parents soon return to continue their parenting. Only after a period of 24 hours, if there is no sign of a parent, should you consider interfering in the situation.

This young pup was brought into a rehabilitation center several weeks ago. Listen to his tiny vocalizations, recorded when he was only a few days old. The photo was taken more recently  — he’s already been weaned from his formula and is growing fast!

If you would like to donate to help defray the expenses of raising this orphan, please visit the AWARE website.  They can use any contributions you are willing to make.

Farming With Coyotes In Maine — Geri Vistein

My Coyote Yipps blog concentrates on urban coyotes: on coyotes and their behaviors which one might encounter in an urban environment. But coyotes also live in areas with ranches and farms where there is a need to protect livestock. The solution to most issues with coyotes, usually, is mass killings of these animals. It’s a never ending cycle, because, of course, new animals come to fill the niches vacated by those who have been killed, so the cycle of blood baths continues year after year.

But there are better solutions that are more effective, more humane and good for everyone, including coyotes, livestock and farmers and ranchers.

Geri Vistein has created a fantastic Facebook page, Farming with Coyotes in Maine. Geri, with the rest of us, is trying to increase awareness and promote management practices that don’t involve killing. Please visit her page, even if you are not in the ranching or farming business: https://www.facebook.com/FarmingwithCoyotesinMaine. Here are her three most recent posts!! Thank you Geri!!

1) A Child Shall Lead Them ~ posted April 2nd, is about a children's book written by Jonathan London.

1) A Child Shall Lead Them ~ posted April 2nd, is about a children’s book written by Jonathan London.

2) ONE OF OUR FARMERS SHARED WITH ME AN EXCELLENT CONVERSATION SHE HAD WITH HER RESIDENT COYOTES ~ posted March 28th, talks about an electric fence the farmers built.

2)  One of Our Farmers Shared With Me an Excellent Conversation She Had With Her Resident Coyotes ~ posted March 28th, talks about an electric fence the farmers built.

3) Coyotes Miss Nothing In Their World! ~ posted March 15th, is about using guardian animals to protect livestock.

3) Coyotes Miss Nothing In Their World! ~ posted March 15th, is about using guardian animals to protect livestock.

Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in Washington – New Website Is Up

Marla

Who are coyotes? Coyotes are individuals. Your average little coyote is cunning, intelligent, curious, playful, protective, adventurous, independent, self-reliant, self-sufficient, has family values, a frontier spirit and strong individuality. Hey, aren’t these the same rugged characteristics in which we ourselves take pride? — Janet Kessler for WildCare 

The Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in Washington has just put up their new website and I was honored to be able to contribute information and photos! Take a look at the “Coyotes” and the “Multimedia” sections! Read Marla Bennett’s wonderful article on behalf of coyotes! And go visit the refuge!

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Columbia/Wildlife_Habitat/Coyotes.html

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Columbia/Multimedia/Coyotes.html

Marla (1)

Urban Coexistence Video Is Now Available in SPANISH!

“We are all One…”, by Geri Vistein

[Geri Vistein helps us understand what it is like to be a coyote in most areas of North America]

photo by Jerry Mercier

photo by Jerry Mercier

What is the Coyote in this photo feeling….does she feel…..does she feel like us….?

From time to time in my work as a biologist, certain members of the community have some difficulty accepting the reality that Coyotes share with us the common journey through life on this planet….that they experience the pain, grief, loss, suffering that we do….and ALSO the fun, the joy, the companionship, the joy of life that we do.

I want to encourage you to view the outstanding documentary “When the Mountains Tremble”  If you have Netflix, you can get through them. Watch the film first, then watch it again with the director’s commentary. The film is about the Native people of Guatamala and the atrocities heaped on them for the past 500 years….since the Spanish invaded central America. The film focuses on what has been going on in the second half of the last century.

As I watched the film, as a biologist, I could not but help think that what these descendants of the Mayans were enduring were what Coyote contnues to endure. ….fleeing their homes and hiding in the forests…babies on mothers’ backs, traveling only at night to meet for fear of being rounded up and tortured, trying to hold onto their culture and their language at impossible odds.  

But the film also shows the indomitable spirit of the Guatamalan Native peoples, the strong bonds that they continue to share with each other, and their courage and  undaunting efforts to survive as a people.  I say Coyote desires and acts in the same manner….we have seen this repeatedly through our science. 

If you wish to get more of a sense of Coyote’s life here in Maine, and in many places in north America…..since the Europeans invaded this land….watch this documentary. If you have a difficult time accepting this comparison, please ask yourself … WHY?

[Reprinted with permission by Biologist Geri Vistein, from her website, http://www.coyotelivesinmaine.com/. Please visit this beautiful and informative site! Also, please visit Geri's Facebook page for farmers and ranchers: https://www.facebook.com/FarmingwithCoyotesinMaine]

Wariness

1222 sunning

Even the boldest coyotes are wary of humans. Wariness of humans is a very innate coyote trait. However, there definitely is a continuum as to HOW wary each individual coyote is, and this seems  to be more innate than learned, based on what I’ve been seeing.

I’ve seen coyotes, beginning from when they were small pups, who will not venture out of hiding until it is totally dark outside and until there are no people at all around.

At the other end of the continuum, I’ve seen coyotes, again from the time they were small pups, not afraid to venture forward in broad daylight, albeit always at a safe distance, when people are out walking their pets. The coyote above, sunbathing at noon in an open space frequented by walkers and their dogs, is one such coyote. The coyote’s eyes appeared to be closed, though I bet one of it’s eyelids was kept open just a tad! The coyote would lift its head only occasionally as some walkers passed by within about 200 feet! When a walker and dog approached much closer than this, the coyote dashed quickly to the bushes, putting an end to the sunbathing session.

What Happens to Coyotes When Developers Move In?

area to be developed

the valley over the hill — area to be developed

wildlife becomes displaced

wildlife becomes displaced

where will they go?

where will they go?

I received this note from Andrea in Southern California:

Janet — I came across your blog.  We live in SoCAl on the edge of a canyon. The Carlsbad City Council has approved nearly 600 homes in the valley over the hill from us. Here’s a pano of that valley with my husband and dog, Max, taking what will be one of the last looks before dozers move in. I was able to take some shots and video a few years ago of coyotes. As developers are moving in I expect we will have more coyotes and dens close by our homes. Personally, I love hearing them below our deck or in the distance. We do see scat around. Unfortunately people have lost a number of cats due to leaving them outside.

Thank you for your great blog and photos. Andrea
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Yipps: Thank you, Andrea, for sending these. So, what happens to coyotes when developers move in? Yes, coyotes will most likely move in closer to the human neighborhoods. They won’t move out further into the countryside, because there is little countryside left. Coyotes are hugely adaptable and opportunistic. They basically will move into any area where they can safely survive — and almost always this involves moving closer to urban areas where where life is pretty safe. For instance, guns are not allowed. Some of us have become interested in their plight and their behaviors. We’ve learned that indeed humans can live with coyotes as neighbors without expending a whole lot of effort. 
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Please see Coyotes As Neighbors: Focus On Facts for a one-stop informational on some easy coexistence facts and guidelines.
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[Photos and note come from Andrea Bearden-Kuhns in Southern California]

Meet the New Kids on the Block!

July Seventh – sent to me by my neighbor

Question: My Dogs Are Chasing Coyotes

2013-07-09

Hi Janet,

I found your blog Coyote Yipps when I was looking on the internet, as I have a question on Coyotes and my dogs. Its really wonderful what you are doing for Coyotes and I loved reading through your postings. However, I’d like to ask a direct question about a situation with my dog(s.)

I live in Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles and my house backs on to the state park and hundreds of miles of the santa monica mountains. I have taken my dog Krissi out the back there for nearly a year hiking trails and have occasionally seen coyotes, but we have always kept a respectful distance. I do have her off leach as this is her home, but she is well trained and rarely goes far from me. When we are at home, she does jump the fence and has free access to an area she seems to stay in. I have seen coyotes on the ridge above our house. Krissi has been keen to chase these coyotes off ‘our patch’ if she senses them within theses boundaries. She is a german shepherd/ healer mix and is very quick and smart, but also very gentle. Not at all agressive. I have always felt a bit nervous of her going out there and have kept a close eye out, but I trust her and she seems to be clear within this boundary.

In the last weeks I have been dog sitting another young dog, 2 year old, Lady. She is a hound mix, with some pit bull in her. Krissi has now got much more confident, and is leading Lady off on adventures, where they have been gone for up to an hour and come back exhausted.

This morning, they were keen to get out at around 7am for a pee, but they jumped the fence and went high tailing it up to an area above the house. I heard what I am sure was a coyote squeeking/yelping and both girls went off in what sounded like hot pursuit. I called and whistled and they came back 10 mins later, Lady with no collar on, and they were both panting, elated and thirsty. There was no signs of a fight or any blood or anything that led me to think there had been a conflict of any kind.

I am about to go out and look around the area I saw them go to, which I think might be a coyote home? I wonder if coyotes would be making a home so close to where a dog lives? or if the coyotes are watching out for them? or if they are just hunting for food themselves? (There is a small enclave of cabin houses where I live.)

It is a dilemma for me, because I obviously want to protect wild life, but I also want to give my dog(s) freedom to be able to explore and be free. I dont want to leach them all the time and I cant fence the property.

Can you let me know your thoughts, as I dont feel right that they are chasing or harrassing Coyotes.

Thank you for your time.

With best wishes, Sandy from Topanga

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Hi Sandy

Thank you for contacting me. I ended up contacting Wildlife Conflict Manager Mary Paglieri at LittleBlueSociety.org to get an accurate read on your situation. Mine are all “urban” observations and have to do with pets/coyote interactions in the city under human supervision: in these urban areas, dog predatory behavior is kept in check by the presence of alpha humans. In rural areas, when humans aren’t around, anything goes.

Since the size of your dog is large, it can hold its own against any coyote.  Please realize that the behavior of your dogs away from home can be quite different in how they interact with other smaller animals. The breeds you mention have a high prey drive. Left to their own devices, it is highly likely that they will chase and they could even kill coyotes and other animals.

Most dogs look elated after a predatory chase and a kill. That the collar was off suggests that there may have been a struggle. Shepherds’ and Pit Bulls’ mode of dispatching other animals is to grab and shake — and it doesn’t necessarily draw blood. Two dogs have now formed a pack, making them more dangerous to wild animals. And both dogs outweigh coyotes — there is no contest.

I’ve read and heard about dogs which have established respectful relathionships with coyotes in rural areas  — they read each other well, and they respect each other’s boundaries and keep their distance. If your dog is exhausted and happy from running, it doesn’t sound like this is what is going on. In city parks, I have never seen coyotes and dogs frolicking together just for fun. In the parks, a “truce” between the animals is maintained through respecting critical distances and keeping dogs away from coyotes. Alpha humans are always there to moderate the dogs’ behavior. Dogs and coyotes don’t really like each other.

Also, if there is a coyote pack/family, they could get fed up with what they consider to be harassment within their territory, especially when your dog is alone. If there are “raspberry” abrasions on Krissi’s legs, or a nip on the haunches, these constitute clear messaging to your dog from the coyotes that they want your dog to stay away.

So, although this might be an unhappy solution for you, my suggestion would be to not to allow your dogs free reign in this area. Hope this helps!

Janet

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Hi Janet,

Apologies for the very late response and for your time in answering my then, current issue. I’d like to share briefly the outcome of the story.

Unfortunately, due to fencing costs, the amount of land that I have and my adjacency to the state park, I was not able to stop my dogs from running off the property. What I did, was to be vigilant about them staying close to me over a month or so and to train them to come at my call. I kept them in from ‘magic hour’ before the light changes at dusk, or from going out early in the morning, unless accompanied. Since that initial incident, there have been no such behaviors of chasing, or any nicks or bites to my dogs.

What I can report is an interesting incident after one of my dogs had caught a rabbit and brought it down to the house. The rabbit was fully in tact, and seemed to have died of a heart attack. I left the rabbit by the edge of my property that night and in the morning I went out with the dogs, only to be greeted by a very large coyote just beyond my property line. My dogs and he circled each other, but at a respectful distance, whilst I shouted at my dogs to come back. Neither the coyote or the dogs listened to me, they were in a kind of territorial dance and the coyote ended up leaving, with much strength and at his own pace with my dogs staying with me. It was interesting to say the least and very unexpected. I felt like they knew each other and I had been the only one in a panic. (I carried the dead rabbit up the ridge and left it for the coyote as a peace offering.)

I have not seen the coyotes near my property since and my dogs have not been out on any ‘hunts’ as far as I can see. The coyotes used to come right into the garden and close to the house, as I caught them on my wild-life camera. My dogs have been staying at a closer radius to home. It seems the game is over.

My conclusion is that there was indeed a dialogue between them, the coyotes very clearly showing they did not want the dogs in their area and it seems the message got across and an agreement was made.

I am putting up the wild-life camera again to see if the coyotes are around further up the ridge, so I’ll see what is happening, if anything.

Best wishes and thanks again for your time.

Sandy from Topanga

2013-07-09 (1)

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