Coyote And Squirrel

No words are needed. This coyote’s eyes say it all! The coyote plopped down on the ground and for minutes on end kept a hungry eye on the squirrel who chattered and fussed and flailed its tail provokingly at the coyote. The squirrel had actually gotten away by the skin of its teeth when the coyote lunged at him just a moment before scampering up the tree, so the coyote must have been miffed, which explains his expression. In the end, the coyote got up and left, and the squirrel did too, but not until the coyote was way down the path!

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Watching Dog Activity With Trepidation: Photo

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She stopped her low-key foraging on a hillside to keep a wary eye on some distant dogs that easily could have come after her, as many have. They didn’t, and she returned to her foraging activity. All in the day of a young urban coyote.

Dog Chases Coyote, Coyote Chases Back, Walkers Cheer For Coyote!

dog chases coyote

What first caught my attention on this foggy San Francisco morning was a dog running at ultra-high speed down an embankment. Then I heard someone yelling for his dog, with the tell-tale panicky tone which is always a dead-giveaway for what is going on. The dog was a young, small German Shepherd, maybe 70 pounds, while the coyote it was chasing was a small 30 pounder. The dog was persistent and fast, but the coyote was faster. They raced around a large field several times while onlookers froze, wishing the dog would stop.

dog and coyote face each other

The dog would not respond to his owner’s frantic calls. The coyote finally stopped and stood still, which left the dog in the lurch — what to do now? Each animal looked at the other: the coyote was assessing his pursuer. Coyotes can read a dog’s character and intentions visually. One look at the German Shepherd told the coyote that this animal was all bluff. But all bluff or not, the coyote did NOT like being chased. Now the tables were turned. The dog, seeing that the coyote seriously meant business, began running away — fast, lickety-split, with its tail tucked under. The sullen bystanders suddenly perked up and cheered for the coyote: “Yay, Coyote! Way to go!”

coyote chases back

At this point, the dog decided to take refuge next to its owner, and as it reached its owner, the coyote stopped and turned to go the other way. The coyote, who simply needed to message the dog to leave him alone, would not get any closer to the human owner. Most unleashed dogs, by the way, will chase a coyote the minute they see it. The owner gave the dog a thorough body-check for nips: there had been none — this time. Hopefully the dog was sorry and won’t do it again, but often it takes a good nip before some dogs learn to leave coyotes alone.

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Coyote looks back as the owner examines his dog, and then trots away

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

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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.

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hunting

trekking along with grub in his mouth

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

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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

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