More Nicks and Dents

More wounds

More wounds

Oh, no!! More gashes and lesions are appearing on the wounded yearling male I posted about earlier. He’s looking totally pockmarked. What is going on? Is he being attacked? These are the kinds of wounds which are inflicted by another coyote. Is another family member, or several family members, attempting to drive this fellow out of the family pack? And is he refusing to go? Or is something else going on?

Up Against A Wall and Walloped

A father and a daughter coyote had been lolling on a hillside when the daughter’s attention became riveted on something in the distance. She stared at it for a minute and then darted off, at a full run. Dad was surprised at her suddenly bolting away, but he followed not too far behind. And I, too, ran, but at a relatively slow follow.

When I caught up with them, they were sitting next to a house and their attention was focused on something I could not see. One of the coyotes then ran forwards and I could see flailing tails and lowered bodies, and rolling around. There was a third coyote there. It was because of this third coyote that the others had made their mad dash over to this area.

I soon recognized the third coyote as a male sibling to the female, son to the father — a family member! I had not seen him in months. This is a coyote whom I had characterized as timid and careful. He preferred “watching” his siblings roughhouse rather than entering into rough play. The last time I saw him, he had hurried off quickly — he avoided being seen by people and pets. I imagined that he had either moved into the bushes for good, where he would live his life hidden from view, or dispersed.

Could this be a joyful greeting of the kind I have seen so often? As I got closer, the sad truth revealed itself: teeth were bared. I realized that this male youngster had probably been driven off, banned, from the territory at some point. Today there was a confrontation because of the male youngster’s return to “forbidden” territory. This would explain his absence.

The fray moved to the open lawn at first but soon the yearling male coyote backed up against the wall of a house — and he remained there, possibly for protection. At first both father and daughter coyote charged him. But then the female youngster went off in the distance, focusing her attention elsewhere, but intermittently updating herself on the battle between father and son, with a glance in that direction.

11-month old male coyote, up against a wall

11-month old male coyote, up against a wall

Dad coyote would stalk, then strike. The strike consisted of punching, nipping, and knocking the youngster over with a shove from Dad’s hindquarters, maybe in an attempt to sit on him, or throw him on his back. The son yelped and fought back in self-defense, all the while standing his ground and not succumbing to lying on his back submissively. I wondered why he didn’t just run off. Did he know he might be chased, and, out in the open, there would be no protection at all? Or was he himself making a “comeback” claim?

The assaults were not aimed to maim, they’re intended as a firm messaging device: “Leave! You are not welcome here anymore!” The father’s strikes were short but intense. After a few seconds of contact, Dad would withdraw about 30 feet and watch, either lying down or standing, probably giving the youngster “the evil eye” — communicating through facial expressions and body language. After a few minutes, there would be another round of this activity.

At one point a dog and walker appeared. I suggested to the owner that he leash his dog and keep moving. The man waited there for a few minutes. At that point the young female jumped IN FRONT of the dog and walker and lured/led them away from the battling coyotes! Fascinating!  The young female returned to her spot in the near distance after the dog and owner were far enough away.

Eventually Dad decided to walk away from the “interloper” coyote, but not before giving several backward glances over his shoulder at the young male — shooting him the “evil eye” again, and peeing a dislike message. He then slowly walked off, with the female close behind, stopping every now and then to look back at the young male who remained with his back up against the wall. When they were out of sight, the young male lay down for a minute, but only for a minute, and then he, himself, darted off quickly in the other direction, and into the bushes.

I caught up with the Dad and young female as they, too headed into bushes. I suppose that the young female is being guarded and protected, and that the territorial domain will be hers. I’m wondering if she has alpha characteristics which might have driven the mother away. Just a thought.

Interestingly, I’ve seen moms beat up female youngsters in this same manner, and now a dad doing the same to a male youngster. It’s as if each parent is jealous of it’s unique position and wants to keep it that way. It’s same-sex youngsters who present the biggest threat to any adult. Is it dispersal time, or some other rule which is being imposed? Pupping season is beginning, which means territories have to be secure for any pups which might be born this year.

Two Wounds in Less Than A Week

Yearling Male with prominent wound on his hip

Yearling male with bright red inflamed wound on his hip with loss of fur

I don’t know if this wound to the hip, above, is due to a skin ailment or a wound from a fight, possibly with a raccoon, possibly with another coyote? It looks like it’s about 3″ in diameter. It appeared about a week ago. And now, just as the inflammation and and bright red color are subsiding, I discovered  a bright red gash at the ankle joint of the left leg, while the other leg, too, seems to have been scraped-up or punctured — all on the same coyote. What could have caused these?

We tend to forget that wild animals sustain injuries constantly, and their bodies must heal themselves without the aid of antibiotics or other medications that we humans and our pets take for granted.

Photo shows deep wound to left ankle area, and puncture wounds to the right leg.

Wound to left ankle area, and scraped up right leg.

Nursing the wound throughout the day

Mother’s Harsh Treatment of Female Pup Continues

Before I started videoing the above, two coyote pups had been foraging in an open field when they spotted Dad coming. They dashed ecstatically in his direction. After only a short truncated greeting, Dad confirmed his dominance towards the male pup, who willing submitted by lying on his back immediately and not protesting.

This “status confirmation”  has become a routine where everyone knows how to behave: the pups acquiesce willingly to the submission which is demanded of them, and all relationships are confirmed as stable. The other pup, the female, also immediately turned on her back and then kept low, even though Dad was on top of the other pup. This little threesome seemed happy for the few moments they were there: everyone did the right thing, everyone smiled and tails wagged.

Then mom appeared on the scene. With everyone’s attention on the mother, the dad let go of his hold on the male pup who calmly got up and wandered in the other direction from which the mom was coming. Mom immediately headed for the female pup — the one which has been the target of Mom’s animosity and displays of dominance in the last few days. Today the treatment became more harsh. That’s Dad casually viewing the altercation from in front; he’s still limping from an injury a week ago.

Note that the female pup is not compliant and snaps back, which may be the problem — but then who wouldn’t self-protect under this onslaught?  Also note Mom’s final emphatic statement: “And take this, too!” No holds barred.

[Please see the previous two postings on this behavior: Punishment and Punishment Again]

A Furious Fight

I heard from a neighbor that there was a terrible coyote fight last night at one of my coyote observation areas.  How did she know this, I asked?  The fight occurred right outside her fenced yard; the racket was tremendous. She said it sounded like a very fierce dog fight, only she knew it was coyotes — she hears them often and knows the sounds of coyotes very well, though she has never heard coyotes fight before.  Might the fight have something to do with a new female who we have seen recently who now might be claiming the territory that once belonged to others?  We speculated about this. She told me that female fights can be furious.

Coyotes avoid all fighting — actual engagement — if they can. Most of the time if there is a dispute between them, the dominant animal need only assume his/her threatening stance. The subordinate animal will accept the other’s supremacy by assuming a submissive posture and will avoid making eye contact with the dominant animal. Hierarchy disputes within packs don’t last very long. However, when two dominant alphas from two different packs have a dispute, a fight could very well erupt. The winner gets his/her way.

The fight occurred in the dark at 9:30 at night — nothing was seen, everything was heard. The witness told me that she yelled out for the coyotes to stop, and they did for just a moment, but then they proceeded with their battle. We’ll have to see how important this fight was for determining the status quo or changes regarding these coyotes. I am worried about what I might find out.

I’ve inserted a children’s poem which I’ve always loved. It came to mind after hearing about the furious fight. Though it is whimsical and light hearted as a child’s poem should be — it depicts the fury that I imagine might have been involved between the coyotes as described by the woman I spoke to.

[Post Script: I saw the resident coyotes a few days after this incident. They acted as normal as could be -- as if nothing at all ferocious had ever taken place. Maybe they "won" what was a territorial battle? Or maybe a coyote's status was redefined or reconfirmed? I can only speculate. And, I wonder how often such battles occur?]