Signs of Scat, An Old Coyote, A Sick Ewe and A Dead Rabbit: More on Ginny’s Coyote Area

Hi Janet,

scat upon scat (now with mold)

Yesterday I walked the other way onto the well-used multi-purpose trail called the Springwater Trail.  The first half mile of the trail heading east has had a lot of scat at times.    This is the area I referred to as being half a mile away and possibly containing a den.  Yesterday there was only one quite recent pile while everything else had been there a week ago.  Today I walked to the pups sighting location.  No new scat anywhere.  I’m wondering if that means the pups have been moved.  I also checked another part of the trail not too far away and found no new scat.  I have seen a lot of it there before also.

We saw the lame coyote once when he trotted in front of our car.  He looked and moved like a very old dog would move and that is why I label him as old.  He is not thin but is very ragged looking.  I have only seen a coyote once on the trail (that is how I found your blog because I wanted to learn all that I could about them) and that was right at the trail entrance near our house.  Hunting for rabbits no doubt!  Bud saw an adult last fall on one of his walks. Both of these had beautiful coats and seemed very healthy.

trail where pups appeared

Last week I met a family with grandparents walking on the trail and mentioned the coyote scat to the children.  The grandparents told me they have sheep and coyotes stand at their fence and sing and whine all the time.  The grandfather told me that recently he had a sick, old ewe and THREE DAYS later when he went to check on her he only found most of her skeleton.  He is sure the coyotes picked her clean – including her gum tissue and ribs.  They said coyotes would infrequently take a newborn lamb after I asked if they thought the coyotes actually killed anything.  Any person who would knowingly leave a sick animal for three days – well I cannot relate to them.  I’m very cautious what I say to people on the trail about the coyotes.   One man we see on the trail is sure someone shot coyotes a few years back.

blackberries through which pups disappeared; there is more scat again now, indicating resumed activity in the immediate area

On Monday I noticed a dead rabbit at the beginning of the trail which is near our house.  It appeared to have died mid-crawl.  I turned it over and did not see any injuries or changes in hair.  About a week earlier Bud said “it smells like something died in the blackberries” as we walked by the same location.  Several neighbors and dog walkers who use the trail came to the same conclusion I did – that a neighbor might be poisoning rabbits.  We are all very concerned.  I really hope this is not the case.  Yes, rabbits do incredible damage to yards and gardens but rabbit fencing keeps them out.  I know, we added it to the existing deer fence around our yard.  Yesterday the rabbit was gone but I suspect a neighbor disposed of it.  I have read that coyotes are very smart about not consuming poisoned food and I hope that is the case here.  We have a family of red-tailed hawks in the greenspace that I am really enjoying and I think they prefer freshly killed prey over carrion.  Poison can travel so fast up and down the food chain.

I’ll let you know if I notice any changes.  I don’t expect to see coyotes because our dog really seems to have a history with coyotes.  He is a Bouvier rescue we have had almost a year.  He spent several years running loose on the NM mesas and he thinks deer, coyotes and rabbits are to be chased.  He also barks like crazy.  I’m sure the local coyotes know him and make sure not to reveal themselves to us!

Ginny


Snips and Snails and Coyote Pup Tails

Lots goes into defining a coyote. Here is some “stuff” relevant to coyotes in our parks — sort of. Well, especially the tail in a field! Of course there are the footprints after a rain storm and there is scat. I like the flowers and moons which thrill me as much as the coyotes do — they are part of the coyote’s environment! I have found a number of dead moles — I’m wondering if these are always discarded by coyotes. I continue to see raccoon prints — always in the same locations, so I think adult raccoons can hold their own against coyotes. And yes, coyotes eat snails!!!

Is There A Message in “Pooping”?

I noticed a couple of coyotes showing curiosity, at a distance, towards a dog walking along a path with its owner. The owner later told me that the coyotes had actually tried sniffing her dog’s end. This dog is one that is not interested in coyotes — the dog is not oblivious to coyotes, but does ignore them. By the time I had met up with this walker and her dog, the two young coyotes had moved ahead and now appeared on the path some distance in front of us. They had their eyes in our direction — they were watching the dog and they were obviously curious about its not reacting to them. The coyotes stood there, so the dog owner asked her dog to sit, to keep it from getting any closer to the coyotes. The dog did so immediately. So we all watched each other.

The closer coyote was especially curious and even headed our way a few paces. But its bravery waned as we all began to hear voices on the path from where we had come. But before running off, this coyote squatted down and pooped, right there in front of us, on the path, facing us and keeping its eyes on us! I have seen this exact same behavior before, but in this case there had been no dog with me. Was this a message? Coyote scat is often found right in the middle of paths. Was there meaning to this, to either the scat itself or the pooping process, or was it just that “when you have to go, you have to go”? Others have asked this same question.

Yuck!! Coyote Scat is a sign of their presence

Coyote scat is not beautiful, but it is a tell-tale sign that coyotes are around. I am adding a blurb here, just for the record. Most coyote scat is long with rope-like twists. It usually is about 3/4″ thick, it is usually sectioned for a total of five to eight inches in length and it ends in an elongated point — this is a gross generalization. It has this form because it is loaded with fur. If the scat is broken apart, the fur becomes even more obvious — not like a dog’s feces. Coyotes eat entire animals, so the indigestible fur is expelled. Coyote scat has a variety of looks: one form I don’t have here is a soft globby pile, often with seeds. Coyotes are opportunistic eaters, which means they will eat whatever they can; and what goes in must come out. Coyote scat has a very distinct “musty” smell — it does not smell at all like dog poop. It’s color runs from greenish to blackish, but I’ve also seen some brown. Unpleasant though the topic might be, coyotes suffer from bouts of diarrhea now and then. I’ve wondered if this is caused by carrion that has gone bad, or by some human food that they might have found.

Coyote scat has been used by Professor Ben Sacks of UC Davis. He has extracted the DNA from the scat to identify what larger group the coyote belongs to, and therefore from where it originated. So scat has very high profile scientific uses! Owl pellets — the undigested portions of an eaten animal that is coughed up by owls — is also studied in detail to help determine exactly what the owl eats. Coyote scat is studied in this way, too.