Siccing Your Dog On Coyotes Is NOT Cool

2015-12-30

Some unleashed dogs, through the negligence of their owners, run off chasing coyotes. If your dog has a tendency to get excited and wants to chase coyotes, you need to keep your dog leashed or walk in a different area. The problem is the repeat offenders: it appears to always be the same few unrestrained dogs who go chasing after coyotes because their owners refuse to leash them when coyotes are around.  But even worse are the dog owners who blatantly prompt their dogs to go after coyotes: I’ve seen this innumerable times, and I’ve heard stories from others who have recounted their observations of this dog-owner behavior. This is not cool. It might be entertaining and fun for the dog owner, but it is not so for the coyotes, nor for other folks in the park who have watched this happen. In fact, it’s illegal to harass the wildlife in San Francisco. Another variation of this human behavior is to leash their dog and then proceed to approach the coyote as close as possible.

Coexistence involves respecting the wildlife and not interfering with it. It involves keeping your distance to begin with. It means leashing and walking on, away from the coyote whenever you see one. It means advising other walkers with dogs if a coyote is out and where it is so that they can take the proper preventative precautions — it’s important to prevent all interactions by keeping these species as far apart as possible. It means understanding that a coyote might approach your dog for territorial reasons or, if your dog is very small, it might even grab your dog. These contingencies are easily avoided by keeping vigilant, by keeping your distance, and by walking on, away from the coyote. Coexistence also means knowing how to shoo one away if there is an encounter which is uncomfortably close or if a coyote approaches your dog. See the YouTube video, “How To Shoo Off A Coyote.”

Please don’t allow your dog to go after coyotes, and please let others know that doing so is not cool. In fact, it hurts everyone in the park when the coyotes are taught by this treatment that they must remain suspicious of dogs even if they are out in the distance. They are territorial and NEED to defend their space — and they are more likely to do so when provoked. To prevent inciting this instinct, we need to keep away from them. It’s not hard to do: I see folks constantly doing their part to make coexistence work. So please let’s all help those not in-the-loop to come into the loop by letting them know good/safe practices and why keeping our distance and moving on is so important.

 

More Fleeing From Father

During a calm early morning walk I spotted a coyote running at top speed, bounding in long leaps, through some brush in the distance. Within seconds I could see that this coyote was chasing another coyote who was running lickety-split from his pursuer. Soon the larger, faster, and older coyote caught up and threw the youngster on his back and pummeled him with his snout, delivering a few emphasizing nips in the process.

There was intense rustling of the brush and squeals of pain — the same squeals of pain a young domestic puppy might make if it were hurt. Soon, Dad, because that’s who the disciplinarian was, and discipline is what was going on, descended from that clump of brush where the beatings had occurred, walked on a few paces, and then stopped to look back, to glare back. He remained in this location, turning his attention to sniffing and looking around, and then headed back into the brush where the youngster was. Dad was checking to see if he had gotten his message across. He re-emerged again, glared back again, and then sniffed around some more.  He repeated this about four times, and then finally wandered away from the area through the dense foliage.

Soon, within minutes, Mom appeared from out of nowhere. I don’t know if she had witnessed what went on, or if she just happened by at this time. She looked around and slowly headed to where the youngster was. She found him, greeted him, and offered consolation in the form of grooming and affection.  Several minutes later, they both emerged to where I could better see them. Mom spent time carefully grooming the kid who stood still and lovingly absorbed all the attention directed at him, and he returned the favor, a little. Soon she stopped, and both coyotes directed their attention towards where I was, but it wasn’t me they were watching. Dad suddenly appeared at my lookout point, a point with a good view of where the other coyotes were. Dad was keeping an eye on them. He spent a few minutes staring at them, and they at him.

I had left my crutches (I had twisted my knee several weeks earlier) at the base of the steep and craggy slope with dry grasses which I had inched my way up for a better view, scooting myself upwards on the seat of my pants. I was now 30 feet from the crutches at the base of the hill. The coyote stopped to look at the crutches and then went over to a piece of trash, sniffed it and marked it. I was sure he was going to mark my crutches, which had my scent on them. But no, instead he looked at me respectfully and went on his way without leaving me any messages! He disappeared from view.

Youngster and Mom were sitting perfectly still. Their eyes followed Dad’s trajectory until he was out of sight. Then they continued their activity of grooming and being groomed. I wondered if Youngster had actually been wounded by Dad, because, although I couldn’t see any damage to him from the distance,  Mom’s actions suggested to me that she might be licking small wounds on his haunches. Pinch/bites are messages that dominant coyotes give other coyotes, and dogs, to message them to leave.

After the Youngster had regained his composure following Dad’s treatment, and with the help of Mom’s grooming, affection, attention and solace, Youngster began feeling playful. He jumped over Mom, which must have been a signal or invitation to play. She acquiesced — parent coyotes love playing with their youngsters. After a few minutes of playful wrestling, she led him on a long extended chase up and around and through the bushes and back, over and over again. More grooming ensued and then these two, as Dad had, disappeared from view.

Had Dad been disciplining Youngster for failing to be submissive? Or was there a lesson in boundaries and territoriality, or possibly an issue about the youngster’s safety at the center of Dad’s tough discipline? Dad’s intense bullying is disciplinary now. This pup is 7 months old and there is a lot to learn. Mom’s affection and solace seem to compensate for Dad’s harsher attempts to discipline and teach. Both parents teach and discipline, but it always appears to be the alpha — and the alpha can be either the male or female parent — who is the harshest. The alpha is the coyote who maintains an overall overview of the situation in his/her territory, keeping an eye out for everyone’s safety.

Yipping Duet After The Blast Of An Early Morning Siren

There’s the siren, then the yipping begins and immediately one of the coyotes walks towards the other — they like yipping together — and they continue their chorus side by side. When they’re through with the yipping, the female scratches some bugs on her body, and the male snaps at the bugs in the air in front of him. Finally the male coyote, as he hears dogs barking in response to his yipping, sits to watch the activity in the distance. After a moment of watching, these two continue their trekking.

Elephant Helicopter Tails, by Charles Wood

whale-songs-and-elephant-loves-katy-payne

Janet and I have written about coyote family daily meet ups, rendezvous, and in a past post I included a short video of one: http://coyoteyipps.com/2011/07/24/rendezvous-by-charles-wood-2/ . The coyotes act like they haven’t seen each other in days when it has only been a few hours. It’s so joyful!

The other evening I was listening to Krista Tippett interview Katy Payne, an acoustic biologist and founder of The Elephant Listening Project. Here’s a link to that interview:http://www.onbeing.org/program/whale-songs-and-elephant-loves/24 from Krista’s On Being web site.  About 22 minutes into the interview Katy describes elephants family rendezvous greeting sessions that  are very similar to those of coyotes, including the tail twirling. As with coyotes, elephants show the same joyfulness after having been apart for a mere few hours. Incredible!

2015-05-14

Click image to read Rendezvous posting and see Rendezvous video by Charles Wood

Vocalization Following A Siren, and Kanyon’s Art

by ©Kanyon Sayers-Roods

by ©Kanyon Sayers-Roods

Here’s a recording of a male coyote vocalizing after hearing a siren. Coyotes often join in with a siren, and then continue their vocalizations long after the siren has stopped. A siren is often the starting point — the inspiration — for a coyote’s howling. As they howl, they’re also calling out to make audio contact with the rest of the family which is close by. The other family members may join in or not, but usually at least one responds. And then the vocalization continues, probably for the sheer joy of vocalizing. In this recording, a female joins the male at the beginning — hers is the high pitched howl in the background, whereas his are the barks in the foreground — but it’s the male who continues through to the end.

With time, one can learn to appreciate the different aspects of coyote howls, no different from appreciating any other foreign language, as I did in a restaurant recently. The Italian language I listened to in the restaurant had unusual and unfamiliar sounds, which also included  lilting tones which we don’t have in English, and was accompanied by strong hand and body movements and strong facial expressions which were all part of the equation. I searched for possible meanings as I listened. Although the words were not intelligible to me I could “read” all sorts of things, such as questions, excitement, enthusiasm, anger, disciplining (of kids) and within the context I knew folks were ordering food. Of course, as a human, I can assume what is being communicated in Italian is not much different from what is communicated in my own languages.

Coyote howling is much more “foreign” to our human ears because we humans are not coyotes and therefore don’t have their “cultural background” to even know what is or needs to be communicated. But at the sound level alone, there are nuances of sounds which can be teased out, and I’m able to do this a little. The sounds include intensity, smooth tones and trills, length of sounds, barks, growls, grunts, whispers, pitch, changes of pitch during a long howl, when these pitch changes occur during the howling session (one coyote I know creates a signature pitch change always right at the end of his howling sessions), and there are distinguishing patterns which include the silences, all of which help me identify the individual who is howling. Context is important, though as a listener, we’re not often able to assess that. And of course, there is a world of meaning which goes beyond simple audio contact with others, roll call, warning, distress, joy, greetings, which I can’t decipher now — yet! But I know that these animals aren’t making these sounds just for no reason at all — they’re communicating.

I wondered if anyone would have the time to listen to my rather long sound bite — we all want things short these days.  But I decided to post it for those who might want to enjoy losing themselves in the call of the wild, as I do.

The drawing is by Kanyon Sayers-Roods, a very talented, committed and community-involved young American Indian from the Costanoan Ohlone and Chumash Native American Indian tribes. It fits with this posting. I think her art is superb, here evoking not only the spirit of the coyote, but the actual howling song as it spins forth. Visit Kanyon’s webpage to learn more about her: at http://about.me/kanyon.coyotewoman.

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

Intimate Coyote Sounds, by Jo

After 30 seconds of coyote family “greeting” squeals, this coyote family’s vocalizations settled down into new additional softer sounds that many may not have heard before: little peeps, a playful lower growl, and it’s more like they’re having a conversation toward the end, rather than just the usual merriment.  It was a warm, intimate “conversation”.  “Intimate” is the perfect word for it. . . I would just love to know what they’re talking about!

This recording occurred at night. There was nothing to see, but lots to hear!

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