Coyote Connect, by Monique

I have lived near coyotes my whole life, but a few days ago, I saw something that I have no explanation for, perhaps you can watch this short video I did and give me your feedback.  I have my theory.

Please note that from our kitchen window we watched this coyote hunting for mice, when 2 of my 3 dogs came down the hill from their morning wander on the crown land behind our place, the coyote looked for cover and hid until they went by, I was at first concerned for my dogs, but once I could see he was not hunting I put my dogs in the house and went out to film, what you see is exactly as it happened.

Towards the end of the first clip you can hear my husband saying “Sarge (3rd dog) is coming up behind.” Indeed he was , he had stopped and watched the coyote from about 70 feet behind him.  The coyote was unaware of the dogs presence until my husband said something and then he stopped playing ( 1st clip end ) he was listening to my husbands voice and still did not see Sarge until I said something to Sarge sparking him to move, the coyote then turned around and saw him and fled.

The coyote’s actions were directed at me, you can see he is at first nervous of me, then I say “it’s okay” and everything changes.  I wont spoil the surprise, :-)   cheers M

It’s a beautiful video, and it does seem quite magical with the snow and your added piano! The coyote’s movements come across as a beautiful dance!

As for what is going on, it’s a little more mundane. Coyotes do this often when they are excited and frightened at the same time, especially young coyotes. See this one:  http://youtu.be/4aYW7oE_KqI .  I have seen it often when a dog or a human is approaching them, even from a substantial distance. They are very curious. They don’t quite want to flee due to curiosity, and they don’t quite want to approach any closer due to fear: they are caught between the two, so their energy causes them to bounce up and down a little — it’s charming and endearing. The bouncing also gives them a clearer view over a distance. This was an absolutely beautiful “coyote connect!” What a gorgeous video! Thank you, Monique, for sharing this magical moment!

Hi Janet, thanks so much for your feedback. I film wildlife when ever I can, as it is my passion.  I have had pretty good luck with catching things on camera, this included. I really should learn more about behaviours, so I appreciate your feedback. I have had plenty of encounters with coyotes, but none like this.  It is good to understand him/her more.  I hope to film this coyote some more, providing he/she is willing…lol… You absolutely can post on your blog.

Night Eyes, by Charles Wood

Here in the LA area yesterday evening I took this video of a coyote. It was too dark for me to actually see the coyote. I used a couple of flashlights to track its movement. All I could see was reflection from the coyote’s eyes. Was it a coyote?

We can tell it was from how it walked around, looked around and then dropped its head in canine fashion to investigate an odor. Also, I had arrived a little earlier when the light was a bit better and could still make it out. It was a coyote. It vanished, as you can see in the video, so I went home.

At home much later, I heard barking from a distance of a few houses away. After several minutes I recognized it as the bark of a coyote. The bark had short and high dog-like bursts, several times repeated and concluding with a song. The song was a quick “yaaw yaaw yaaw yaaw yaaw”. Dogs don’t sing that way so I knew it was a coyote or a very very strange dog. The coyote kept barking and some of its barks did not end with the song. Without the song, its bark sounded like a dog with an insistent and high voice.

I went to investigate. I walked past houses as I looked around for the coyote, heading for the park at the end of my street. Passing by about half a dozen or so houses, from inside the house closest to the park I heard someone yell “OH SHUT UP!” That was how I felt after about ten minutes of that barking.

Arriving at the park, I could hear the coyote but couldn’t see it. I found it by using my flashlight, light reflecting back from the coyote’s eyes. I got a good look at a nondescript coyote. It looked like it was barking at something near or in a tree. I smiled to myself, recognizing typically pointless canine behavior. Upon seeing me and being under my light, the coyote ran off. I yelled at it for good measure. Once I got home the coyote’s barking started up again. By the time I called my neighbor to go back down there with me, the barking had stopped.

Malicious Poisoning on SF’s Twin Peaks

photo of the poisoned meat balls found on Twin Peaks

photo of the poisoned meat balls found on Twin Peaks

There are people in the city who don’t like coyotes. Were coyotes the intended target of this malicious poisoning act?  So far, two poisoned dogs have been reported and treated by the Animal Internal Medicine and Specialty Services and the SPCA.

One of the owners found baited meatballs in her neighborhood and it has been confirmed that they are what the dogs ate. This was in the Twin Peaks/Diamond Heights area, on Crestline and Burnett Streets especially.

The dog owner has gathered all the meatballs she could find — about 50 of them, but there is no way to know if she got them all.

It appears that the poison is strychnine. Dogs and coyotes exposed to strychnine show agitation, tremors, seizures, hyperthermia and trouble breathing. Strychnine is a poison that afffects the action of glycine in the brain. Glycine acts to turn down activity in the brain, without which a brain becomes too excitable, producing hyper-excitability and seizures. If caught soon, dogs can recover with medical attention. A coyote will just die a horrible death.
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We’ve been told that occasionally individuals will lace meatballs with strychnine in a misguided attempt to control wildlife populations, including skunks, gophers and COYOTES. Hopefully this is an isolated incident.
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http://www.mercurynews.com/breaking-news/ci_23597722/?source=inthenews
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Kiah is a victim

Kiah is a victim

UPDATE: I met Kiah on a walk today. She is one of the victims of the meatball poisoning — she ate two of them before anyone had any knowledge about what was going on. She’s under medical care and her outlook is good. The meatballs have now been found in Cole Valley, Hayes Valley and the Bernal Heights neighborhoods, and it appears that the target of this hideous crime is dogs:

http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/poisonous-meatballs-sickening-dogs-in-twin-peaks/Content?oid=2497582
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News: Happy Ending!

lucky little gal

lucky little gal

Story sent from Canada:

I received a call from Animal Care and Control today.  They had picked up a coyote that had been caught in a leg-hold trap.

The guy at ACC said that he just couldn’t put her down.  So, I met him out at the rehabilitation center where the coyote is now in one of our outdoor enclosures.

Although the coyote would rather be free, at least she is still alive.  She doesn’t look as though she was hurt by the leg hold trap and she appears to be healthy.

I gave her a nice dinner for her stressful day.  Since she doesn’t appear hurt, we’ll release her soon as soon as we find a good place for her.  The bad news is that we can’t release her back to where she came from.

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How nice that they called you! It gives me hope to know that there are good people out there. I wonder what the story was and why the trapper didn’t get her.

I hope there is a good place for her to be released.

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Of course it is her home which she is tied to: her family and territory. The ones released by Stan Gehrt tried to make it back to their homes. They all died in the process. If released too far from home, there are more obstacles — people and cars — that the coyote has to deal with.

Not only that – in her desperate search for food she could get into trouble with people and their pets!!!

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Someone called ACC to say that they had seen her in the leg-hold trap.  So there is another good person out there.

We do have places to release coyotes.  Unfortunately it won’t be with her family or in her own territory.  And, they don’t all make it when they are released in a new place.  I hate this, but at least we are giving her a chance.

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Couldn’t it be done at night – who would know?  The whole experience will be aversive enough to keep her from going into the area where she was trapped.

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Unfortunately, I do not know where she was found.  They don’t want me putting her back in the same area.

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The attached is not a good photo, but a photo none the less of our latest visitor at the rehabilitation center.  She is curled up in front of a heat lamp on a drizzly day.  She ate all of her kibble last night but neither of the rats that I left for her.  I guess she doesn’t like them if they are not alive and running from her.  She will get more kibble, rats, insects and other goodies tonight.

I am still working on getting the location of the spot where she was found.  It may take me a few more days.  Once I find out where she was found, I’ll get her released close by.

I know that she is not keen on where she is and she is afraid.  However, she is warm, has food and shelter and it is temporary.  We will get her back where she belongs soon.

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It’s a great picture! And you are an angel!!!

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I found out where the coyote was found.  I am working on a clandestine release within a couple of blocks.  Will keep you posted.

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Yay!!!

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Just wanted you to know that the coyote brought in for rehabilitation was returned to her neighborhood on Wednesday night about 11:30 pm.  I wasn’t there, but here is what was relayed to me.  She was at the back of the kennel during the drive until she got close to her neighborhood when she could tell that she was almost home.  Once the door was opened, she bolted out.  About halfway to the tree line, she turned around and looked at the person who released her.  Then she went on her way to find her family.

We all just love a happy ending.

eRATicator

2013-02-26Coyotes keep the rat population down. Here is a coyote with a freshly caught, huge rat. Good for her!

The bad thing is that people in urban neighborhoods use rat poisoning. In one of the parks here in San Francisco, an owl was found dead due to having eaten poisoned rats. The necropsy showed that the poison had infiltrated his entire body. I’ve seen dead rats lying around, bleeding from the mouth or hemorrhaging through the skin — these are signs of rat poisoning. And I’ve seen rats in such pain that they can barely walk. The poisoned rats are easy prey since they move so slowly. They become easy food for raptors and other animals, including coyotes — and up the food chain go the poisons.

Most all rodent eating animals are carrying rodenticide poison loads. An overload can cause lethargy and other debilitating conditions. If you see a coyote that fits this description, please call Animal Care and Control — there are treatments for rodenticide poisoning.

Shooing Off a Coyote: A Primer*


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RELEVANT BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Normal Behavior

Although coyotes for the most part stick to the shadows, it is not unusual to see one out during the daytime, on park trails, or on the streets.  They like grassy fields where they can hunt, and they like woodsy areas where they can take refuge.  At times they may pass through our backyards. These are within the range of normal coyote behavior. We might ask, “Don’t they know they should stay in a park and out of sight?” But how could they possibly know OUR boundaries?  Remember that humans delineate their “boundaries” very differently from coyotes: we use physical and visual boundaries which have meaning for us, such as fences and streets, whereas coyotes use olfactory ones which they create by “marking” or “urinating” along their territory’s periphery. Most of the time when you see a coyote, it will be hunting in a field for gophers, or just passing through. Most of the time, when a coyote sees you, it will flee or keep far away.  If a coyote is minding its own business, we try to leave them alone.

Eliminate Attractants

What attracts coyotes to many areas is food of any type. Coyotes are known as “opportunistic” eaters — they eat what is available. You will be inviting them into your yard if you leave out any kind of food, including pet food. They also eat small rodents such as raccoons and skunks or anything that looks like them. You will be contributing to the food chain if you leave your small pet outside and unattended. It is best to remove all attractants from your yard — this is passive medicine.

Shooing Off a Coyote In A Chance Encounter or From Your Yard

If a coyote comes within 30-50 feet of you, it will most likely be just an unexpected chance encounter, with both of you wanting to avoid each other. Coyotes are curious and may stop to observe.  Most of the time yelling or stamping your foot, as you walk towards the coyote, is enough to make the coyote hurry away — this works most of the time with most coyotes. Tossing a small stone in the coyote’s direction — but not directly at it so as to injure it — will also cause the coyote to distance itself. Do remember that coyotes seldom if ever approach people: you are bigger and brighter than they are and they know this. It is only a chance encounter which might bring you closer than expected. Conflict with you is something they do not want to engage in. However, if you have a dog with you, the situation changes — coyotes and dogs generally don’t like each other because they are competitors for the territory.

SHOOING ‘EM OFF MORE FIRMLY

How to Shoo Off A Coyote More Firmly From Your Dog

There might come a time when you’ll want to shoo away a coyote immediately and unconditionally. If possible, you should always try walking away from an adversarial or potential adversarial situation — but don’t run as this might incite a chase.  This should be your option of choice for many reasons, especially during pupping season or when there are pups around. It is best not to confront a coyote during these times because, like all parents, it will defend its young. However, you should shoo off a coyote if it is decisively approaching your dog, or if it has come into your yard where you have pets. The presence of the human alpha around any pet is important for keeping coyotes away from your pet.

My Preferred Method

One of the best ways to show a coyote that his proximity is not welcome is a multi-sensory one: take a folded newspaper and slam it aggressively, repeatedly and dramatically on your thigh as you walk decisively towards the coyote, locking your gaze on his, and yelling “Shoo! Off With You!”. The combination of the aggressively wide and big slapping movements, the loud slapping noise, your angry voice, the locked gaze, and walking decisively towards the coyote will show him 1) that you are directing this “attack” towards him and 2) you mean what you say. There is a caveat here: you MUST make the coyote move back substantially — in other words, you must “win”, otherwise the coyote could become resistant over time and he will think that you are just crying wolf. It may take a couple of repeats for a coyote to “get it”, but they do remember and will start fleeing upon seeing you. A periodic, but milder, reminder of your ferociousness will help maintain what you have taught. In any particular area, it will be the same coyotes which you encounter — they are strongly tied to their territories, and milder “reinforcement” might be needed occasionally in the future.

Technique Pointers for Firmly Shooing Off a Coyote Needs Practice & Repetition

Your “intervention” should be no-nonsense and appear confrontational. If you want the coyote to remember, you’re going to have to make the event memorable for him: throw a real conniption. Coyotes read body language. It’s all about bluffing — your bluff must be bigger than theirs. And it’s a mind set: you want to turn the tables from defense to offense mode. We all need to practice being adversarial/aggressive a little to become effective: it might help to watch someone do it to give you the swing of it. Knowledge and practice of this technique will give you confidence even if you never may have to use it.

Quick Summary For Shooing Off Coyotes

  • Use only if walking away isn’t working and
  • Don’t use during pupping season, March-August, when parent MUST defend their young.
  • DO use if a coyote is decisively approaching your dog.
  • Be as OFFENSIVE as possible
  1. slap a newspaper on your thigh loudly and dramatically
  2. walk decisively towards the coyote
  3. fixing your gaze on the coyote’s eyes — so that he’ll know it’s no mistake but him you are targetting
  4. angrily raise your voice and shout “Scat!” “Shoo!” “Off With You!”
  5. Make sure to force the coyote to move back — to claim you’ve won

[Downloadable and Printable version: Shooing Off A Coyote]

Perceived Size of Coyotes

 

Usually there are two classifications people use to describe a coyote’s size: 1) it was big, 2) it was small. But perception very often has little to do with reality. I’m going to give four telling examples.

I watched as a fellow’s dog chased a coyote, and then the coyote turned on it’s chaser to return the treatment. The owner made a flailing attempt to shoo the coyote off. When the encounter was over, and the coyote had retreated, the man, who was unaware that I had watched the entire event, told me about the 100 pound coyote that had engaged his dog. Anyone who knows coyotes knows that they run from 18 to 35 pounds, so this statement had more, I think, to do with his fear, or to do with a good story — we’ve all heard about the size of the fish that was caught.

The second example is of a gardener in one of the parks who respects coyotes and sees them often enough. We both had seen a coyote curiously watching an older man who had fallen while attempting to grab his dog which was chasing this coyote. The gardener pointed out that the coyote was very small, probably a puppy. Yet, several days later a coyote passed, at about the same distance, and this same gardener told me that was one of the biggest coyotes he had ever seen — “he knew coyotes well so he could tell a big one when he saw one”. Interestingly, these two sightings involved the same coyote, a coyote I know very well and can easily identify. I have not figured out why he saw them so differently: was it the lighting? Was it that when seen on a large field with a man close by the coyote looked smaller, or did holding its head down make it look smaller? Was it that when he saw the “large” coyote, it appeared large because it was on a ridge?

The third story is about a young woman who was very excited about telling me that she had seen a small coyote pup. This was in January, so of course I wanted to see for myself. Since pups are born in March or April, it would be very unlikely that she would see a small pup in January. She took me to the area, and, yes, it was a playful coyote, but it was not a pup. It was a full-grown two year old that I had been keeping track of for some time. This young woman really likes coyotes, so I’m wondering if she sees them all as adorable pups?

The last example involves the perception of an older woman who is very used to seeing coyotes in a park, so you would think she could assess their sizes pretty well. She likes them well enough, but would prefer that they not be around when she walks her dog. On this particular day, she ran up a hill to shoo away a coyote because she thought it was too close. She told me it was a small coyote — a puppy — and she was helping it. Again, this was an adult coyote which she has seen plenty of times and which I’ve been keeping track of. Another man, months ago, labeled this same coyote as “huge”, which spread as a rumor by folks who wanted to believe this.

Frankly, my conclusion is that describing the size of a coyote often has little to do with reality, but a lot to do with how one is feeling about the coyote at the time. Also, descriptive words often carry very individual-specific and individual-nuanced meanings which everyone doesn’t necessarily agree on. And, in addition, I’ve heard that seven people witnessing the same car accident will give seven different versions of what happened — versions which might often be contradictory — they actually perceive the accident differently.

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