Coyotes and Dogs, Coyotes and Humans, and How To Shoo Off A Coyote

The updated presentation — updated on June 13th — is at the top of the page in the second posting on this blog: It’s called Coyotes As Neighbors: Focus on Facts.

The version I’m posting today, here, in this posting, is called Coyotes As Neighbors: How To Shoo Off A Coyote. It is a shorter version of that first one: I’ve cut out some of the coyote behavior slides and the section on killing coyotes, and I’m concentrating on human and dog relationships to coyotes, and how to shoo them off in each instance. This version here is 20 minutes long, versus 30 for the one at the top of the yipps blog. Otherwise, they are exactly the same.

I don’t think a lot of the information in these videos can be found anywhere else — I don’t think much of this detailed urban coyote/dog behavior has been observed or documented. Except for some statistics and the section from Robert Crabtree (I think that’s the original source) that killing coyotes increases their populations, most of the coyote information in these videos comes from my own 7 years of first-hand observations. I’ve been spending 3-5 hours daily in our parks, engaging in my “pioneering photo documentation” (that’s what one journalist called it!) and research of coyote behavior and their interactions with people and pets. I believe these are the first such presentations which concentrate on the urban coyote himself! I’ve been told by coyote specialist professors that the dog/coyote observations are new. The video has been reviewed by an experienced wildlife conflict manager with 15 years of experience in the field.

Anyway, I would like to to get the information out there now because we’re in the middle of pupping season — there might be more coyote encounters coming up.  This information will be useful especially to dog owners. If you have time for the longer version, I recommend that one. If you don’t, try this shorter version. They are both pretty long, but they contain most information that you’ll need, especially if you are a dog walker.

Grunting More Than Huffing Here

This video, again, shows the reaction of a coyote to a hostile dog appearing on a path about 200 feet away. Coyotes seem not to be bothered by dogs that have never bothered them. So when a dog appears that causes a coyote to react this way, it is because of the dog’s previous behaviors — a coyote always remembers each dog and its behaviors, be it a blatant antagonism, or something more subtle like a “dirty look”.  I’ve seen this over and over again. By the time I got the camera set up, most of the grunting was over — it had gone on for over a minute.  The grunts are very audible in this video. Fortunately the walker and his dog veered off the path and left the area, so the grunting just petered out, as in the last video I posted. The coyote  took the opportunity to lie down right there where it was camouflaged by the tall grasses. Coyotes frequently are right there in the open, but you can’t see them!

Shortly after this grunting episode, another dog and walker — with a history of being hostile and antagonistic towards coyotes — appeared in the distance. The coyote heard them coming and stood up, waited until they were in sight, and, before being seen by them, trotted off into some bushes rather than wait for the possibility of an encounter. I’m sure if the coyote had stayed down, it would not have been seen, but it chose not to take this chance.

One might wonder why a coyote would be out when dog walkers are out. Do  rodents tend to stick their noses out more during certain times, making hunting more successful at these times? I don’t know, it’s just a guess. Also, though, coyotes seem to want to get a glimpse of what is going on in “their” territories before hunkering down for the day.

The Huffing Continued

This is actually a continuation of the last posting on “Coyote Huffing”. I should have included it in that posting. By the time I took this second video, the coyote had sat down. But you can still see the movements of her throat, huffing and puffing, during the first 13 seconds of the clip. The activity is very quiet, barely audible, if at all in the clip, but nonetheless audible in real life. In this case, after the huffing stopped, at 13 seconds into the clip, the coyote calmed down and the matter was forgotten for the time being. The coyote soon got up and continued her slow trek towards one of her snoozing spots.

“Thoughts on Dogs and Coyotes” by Charles Wood

Over the last year the encounters between my dog and “my” coyotes have escalated into confrontations.  A year ago I could unleash my sixty pound dog in their field and successfully manage their infrequent interactions.  I’ve come to understand that my past success was influenced by chance and happenstance to a greater degree than I previously thought.  Today I consider my entering their field as potentially unsafe and provocative.  In contrast, other people use that field at times and have told me they have not seen coyotes there.  Young boys use a part of the field for bicycling, having built earthworks for that purpose.  Transients at times sleep there.  Groundskeepers make their appointed rounds.  Teenagers party.  Towards these other field users, the coyotes have remained a “ghost species”, perhaps because they don’t bring dogs with them.  My dog and I have caused the coyotes to single us out for increasingly confrontational treatment.  It took a year for those changes to develop, a testament to the coyotes’ natural tendency to avoid people.

By chance and happenstance I mean factors that influence coyote behavior.  At root their behavior is about food and reproduction.  Coyotes live mostly in family groups.  Consequently, if you see one coyote there is a good chance there is at least one more present nearby.  It doesn’t seem likely that one coyote and an equally or greater sized unleashed dog will seriously injure each other.  My opinion is that mature breeding coyote pairs together are smarter and stronger than one dog of their size or larger and that coyotes don’t play by the rules that a typical pet dog expects.  The encounters between a larger unleashed dog and such pairs seem to me to be advantaged to the coyotes.  The proximity of a human and the degree of human control exercised over the dog become critical to the outcome of such an encounter.

An unleashed larger dog appears to a coyote as an interloper, and intruder.  Coyotes are known to be intolerant of interloper coyotes.  Coyotes will defend their food sources and their young.  Their options in so doing are legion and their choice of tactics is perhaps situational.  My situation is that my dog foraged, he did not simply walk through the area and/or chase my coyotes.  Also, my dog interacted with a mated pair.  My observations of my coyotes and my interloper dog took place over the last year or so.  The contact with the coyotes began with them simply showing themselves.  They seemed to be saying, hey, you’ve smelled me and my markings, why are you still here?  After a time of being in view, they would withdraw into the brush.  At some point later Dad would attempt to sneak up behind my dog, presumably to deliver a nip to his haunches, nips I could prevent by yelling.  As time passed and I ignored these messages, Dad escalated to warning bark sessions after which he would return to the brush.  Barking sessions were later replaced by more aggressive displays of marking, scraping and mock charging followed by partial withdrawals where he remained in full view.  If we didn’t leave, he would begin those aggressive displays again.  Later, to those types of aggressive displays, Dad at times seemed purposed to separate me from my dog where I read his intent as to engage my dog in combat.  Mom recently temporarily separated me from my dog although we were on opposites sides of a chain link fence.

These behaviors developed over about a year, and about a month ago, Mom also began mock charges, marking and scraping without retreating from view.  I should mention that the zone of intolerance increased beyond their field and into other areas where my dog and I had never had problems with them.  My read of my dog is that he would not visit those coyotes of his own accord and that he has felt that way for some time.  Also, much of the time when we walk along the river bank or go to the bridge, we don’t see any coyotes.  When we do, many times my coyotes don’t behave aggressively.  I can’t predict when they will or when they won’t.  When I do see them, it is for an insignificant fraction of their day and I never know what kind of day they had.

Several years ago in a different area, at dusk, two coyotes followed my dog and me as we were leaving.  On the crest of a hill, one of the coyotes ran out in view of my dog while the other remained behind crouching.  My dog stupidly chased the moving coyote down the hill out of my sight.  The crouching coyote did not follow my dog, perhaps because I was present.  Perhaps the coyotes were practicing, but clearly my dog was at risk of being defeated in a frontal and rear attack.  I hadn’t visited that other area very often, yet those other coyotes engaged my dog at a level it has taken a year for my usual coyotes to approach.  Once, in that other area, my dog was off leash and out of my view.  I called him and he didn’t come.  I began to look for him and soon saw him running full speed towards the exit which is located about a mile from where we were.  I called him, he momentarily paused, missed one step in his galloping gate and looked me in the eye.  His look and body language said to me, “Forget it, I’m outta here buddy!”  It took me a while to catch up to him near the exit.  I believe he was responding to some wildness directed towards him by a coyote, again, one of my first visits to that other area.  Here again I am speaking to the unpredictability of coyote behavior, the reason the experts advise us, upon seeing a coyote, to go the other way.  We can choose to do so.  An unleashed dog may decide to chase the coyote and the outcome may or may not be consequential to the chasing dog.

Part of the unpredictability of coyote behavior could be attributable to the fact that the circumstances in which coyotes find themselves change over time.  Food may be plentiful one year and scarce the next.  A female may lack a mate one year and acquire one the next.  One year there may be no puppies and the next there may be several that survive for months or longer.  I have no idea why the coyote I call Mom recently became aggressive when for the longest time she was timid and obsequious.

I want to reiterate that the behaviors of escalating aggression I observed over a year were behaviors that I elicited by ignoring the messages the coyotes were giving me.  My behaviors caused the increasingly aggressive behaviors I observed.  From the point of view of the coyotes, my behavior was that of a perpetual repeat offender.  I continually brought my dog, whom they perceive as an intruding competitor, into their home.  I had decided to give my 60 pound dog a little space with coyotes in order to find out for myself what would happen.  I don’t like what happened.  My behavior was to repeatedly intrude into their home range and seek contact and take pictures.  My unwise dog used the space I gave him to seek food and to disturb the coyote family.  The coyotes’ home range contains their children and their food, the two things coyotes care most about.  They responded accordingly.  After all, coyote behavior is rooted in food and reproduction.

I’ve wondered, considering how little territory my coyotes occupy, how it was that rabbits were always present.  Why weren’t the rabbits depleted and why hadn’t the coyotes moved on?  One reason is rabbits reproduce rapidly.  Another is that other rabbits nearby come in and take over the space formerly occupied by rabbits that the coyotes ate.  The same kind of habitat seeking applies to coyotes.  Removal or extermination creates empty habitat for other coyotes to find and occupy.  The idea that “something must be done” about coyotes is simply an idea that is obsolete.  Coyote survival in urban and suburban areas doesn’t depend at all on how many are removed or killed.  Their ability to find and use habitat in urban and suburban areas depends on how we behave towards and think about coyotes.  Understanding the nature of coyotes helps us to manage our lives in ways that minimize unwanted contacts with them.  Coyote presence requires us to change a little.

All Chases Are Remembered

This coyote was out and about when people and their dogs began arriving in this park in the morning. I was at the other end of the park when some runners told me that people were talking about having seen a coyote. I headed in the direction they had come from. As I walked, I heard a couple of women repeatedly yelling at their dogs to “come” — it was the same desperate commanding tone I’ve heard every time from dog owners around a coyote. The dogs apparently did so, because when I actually arrived there, everything was calm, and the walkers had moved on. However, I am sure the coyote was feeling defensive at this point. I saw the coyote way off to the side by a hill where I could tell it had planned to make its getaway if it had needed to.

With the way clear, the coyote meandered about, sniffing the ground in various places. When it came to a specific spot, after sniffing the spot carefully, it urinated on it. I suppose that the coyote was leaving a message which “trumped” whatever smell the coyote had just found — this may have been the coyote’s reaction to the dogs that had been called away. It was right at this moment that a very large German Shepherd, an unleashed dog which has chased the coyote repeatedly, spotted the coyote and went after it in a full blown, fast and long chase. The coyote took off like a jackrabbit and was able to evade the large dog by dodging through some thick underbrush — coyotes all have a collection of secret escape routes if they need them. The coyote had gone on up to a high rock where it began barking its shrill discontent, loudly, for about 20 minutes. The dog was unable to pursue the coyote through the thicket. The dog owner finally retrieved his dog and took off for a walk away from this area. However, when he came back past this same spot, not long thereafter, the now calmed down coyote, still up on the rock, started in again: it was at this particular dog that the coyote was complaining.

I have noticed that once a dog chases a coyote, the coyote remembers the particular dog — as, of course, the dog remembers the coyote. It is the dogs which chase, along with the uncontrolled hyperactive dogs which the coyote watches in the mornings. The large, never-leashed German Shepherd is one of those which the coyote watches out for — monitors — because of its previous, and consistent chasing behavior — the coyote does this for its own safety. What I had not seen before is this coyote starting up its barking session again for a second time when the same dog re-appeared ten minutes later, albeit at a greater distance and without chasing this time.  The barking is both a complaining and a warning to the dog to keep off. The intense barking ultimately keeps most dogs at a distance.

Also, most dogs won’t continue in at a coyote if it turns around and faces the dog. A similar type of behavior happened several times with my own dog shortly after we had adopted him: he chased a cat. When the cat just stood there and faced my dog, my dog had no idea what to do — it was the chase that mattered. However, by the time a coyote turns around to face its aggressor, the coyote is now in the driver’s seat and it may very well actually defend itself by nipping at the dog to get it to leave. For this reason, we need to keep our dogs from chasing the coyotes. Chasing is a game for our dogs, but not so for the coyote.

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“Coyote Behavior 101″ for Dog Owners

Coyote Behavior In Our Urban Parks for Dog Owners To Be Aware Of: Based my own first-hand observations of coyotes in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Coyotes are shy — they don’t really want to confront dogs, and much less so do they want to confront humans. They prefer maintaining their distance and normally will run off when they see you. If you happen to see a coyote, it is because it is “passing through” the area. However, all coyotes, as all dogs and all humans, don’t follow a single norm — there are variations. I will try to explain some possibilities here.

A coyote may stop to observe you and your dog from afar, especially if you yourself stop on a path to look at it — and especially if your dog “looks” at the coyote.  A coyote may even come towards you a way to see “what you are doing” and “where you are going”. If a coyote approaches as close as 25-50 feet, it would be a good idea to shoo it off. You should know that it is not out to attack you, it is curious about its world which you and your dog are a part of.  Only a handful of times have I seen a coyote actually come in close to a dog. Be assured that the coyotes in our parks have never specifically approached humans — it is your dog which the coyote is curious about.

At their core, coyotes have a natural shyness, or “fear” of humans. Along with the curiosity always will be the fear. Even though most of us move away from what we fear, sometimes we may try getting a little closer to what we fear to “test” it, maybe even to test ourselves. Maybe we should see such a parallel between ourselves and the coyotes. The coyote’s curiosity about the dog may be pulling stronger than the fear repelling it away from the human owner.

Regarding dogs, we all need to know that for the most part, coyotes keep “outsider coyotes” out of their areas and out of their tightly knit family group. Dogs are in this category. Coyotes do not want the dogs interacting with them. I do know that loner coyotes have solicited play from dogs for short spurts of time, but when there is a coyote family this is less so, the dogs are not welcome — coyotes will vex these dogs.

Dogs are often “monitored” and kept track of in certain parks by the alpha coyote — always the mom — of a coyote group. I’ve watched as this same coyote even moved to a better vantage point to watch until the dog group left the area. The reason dogs are monitored is because they are the coyote’s chief threat in an urban setting: dogs have chased coyotes, and are often seen as competition for the available resources in the park. Resident coyotes are treating the dogs as they would any other coyote intruder. But also, once a coyote has been chased by a dog — and therefore has seen the dog as an aggressor — the coyote will forever be leery of this dog. Dogs, as opposed to coyotes, are not responsible for their own survival since we take care of them. Dogs often think such chasing as “play”, whereas for a coyote the chase is much more serious. But dogs also often feel protective of their owners or the group of dogs they are with, so they may chase a coyote for this reason.

Note that a coyote “pack” is always a tight-knit family group — not similar to classic “dog packs” where unrelated dogs get together for mutual survival needs — these dogs are more on the level of a “gang”. A group of coyotes is really a family — and from what I have been able to observe, a very warm, affectionate, caring and mutually supportive family — one we would all be proud to have around.

There are exceptions to a coyote’s keeping its distance, depending on the coyote AND on the situation and the “history” of a particular coyote’s interaction with particular dogs. The dominant female in any coyote group is going to take charge of keeping her family safe. This coyote will actually come to the aid of the other coyotes if she sees dogs getting too close to one of her family members.

Few humans are aware of the communication going on between our own dogs and other dogs. Well, the communication also is occurring between coyotes and dogs, through eye contact and body language and activity level. Keeping our dogs next to us and leashed lessens this communication. We humans are too absorbed in our own conversations and activities to catch the subtle messages between our dogs and the coyotes. It is important to minimize interaction, even eye communication, to prevent it from escalating. At the crux of what dogs and coyotes are communicating is their feeling of safety, and safety very often has to do with personal space. Predation is another area involving communication via body language which we humans are not always attuned to [Aloft]. Keeping a large distance between a coyote and you and your dog, and keeping the dog leashed will minimize the dog-coyote communication since communication is normally carried on at a closer range, and will lessen the possibility that any communication might be acted upon.

If a coyote has been chased by a dog, or even “intruded” upon by having the dog come too close — and the coyotes are the ones that decide when this is the case — it may begin an intense high pitched, distressed barking session. The barking session is a complaining, but also a signal to the dog that “I’m here and not to be messed with.” If the dog doesn’t back off, the scenario intensifies, with the coyote engaging in sequences of darting at the dog and retreating, and finally, if the coyote can get away with it, with a nipping at the haunches of the dog to herd it away from itself, cattle-dog fashion.

The problem is that although coyotes tend to “go home” shortly after dawn, this is not always the case. I have seen coyotes out at all times of the day: 10:00 am, Noon, 2:00 pm, 4:00 pm — these are not the times one would expect to see a coyote, and although the chances are less at these times, the possibility is still there that you might encounter one. So a coyote might be just around the bend on a path or hidden behind a nearby bush where it will surprise you, and you will surprise it. This is another reason why it is important to keep our dogs leashed in coyote areas. Although a young coyote would normally just flee, the mother will stand up for herself and for her pups, grown though they be. This kind of surprise encounter could easily lead to a charge-and-retreat sequence. If your dog is leashed you can hurry off, rather than let your dog react.

Another behavior I have seen, the significance of which I’m still working on, is the short “chase-chase” behavior — this seems to occur only between a dog and a coyote which know each other, either through previous visual communication, or because of a chasing episode which they both remember.  In this case the coyote will be traveling in the same direction as a walker and his/her unleashed dog, and will come in close with a little “darting in” and “retreat”. The dog will return the behavior. It is almost a “dare” or oneupmanship” with no other intention than just this — it verges on play. A leashed dog can easily be led away from this to prevent its reacting.

A mother coyote may come to the aid of one of her full-grown pups and the two will work as a team to vex a dog to get it to leave: one coyote will distract the dog, the other will come around to dart in from the other side. This coyote behavior can be quite intimidating because of its intensity.

Pupping season is upon us — April for birthing and May through October for raising the young. We all need to know that all of the self-protective and defensive behavior coyotes display throughout the year will be intensified during pupping season. A coyote will be defending a den and a large area around it, and she will be more sensitive to rambunctious or intimidating dog activity. Please be especially careful during this time about keeping your dog leashed and calm in coyote areas.  A coyote will leave your dog alone if your dog leaves her alone and gives her the space she needs to feel safe. A dog off-leash cannot do this on his own. He needs your help and guidance in coyote areas.

With all of these behaviors, leashing the dog creates a barrier of sorts: it calms down the dog — and this can be seen by the coyote. But it also  keeps the dog right next to the owner which serves to deter the coyote from coming in closer. Coyotes do not want to tangle with humans.

Also, if you are walking in an area where there are several coyotes who are either sitting on the lawn, hunting, or headed in a certain direction, it is best not to intrude upon them, but to leave — why test this situation with your dog. By simply being there, they have claimed the area temporarily.

There are various types of dogs that upset coyotes — that cause them to react. It is mostly the more active dogs that appear to arouse the coyotes. Leashed dogs are calmer and the coyote picks up on this. There is an exception to this: if a dog owner becomes anxious, he communicates his anxiety, via the leash, to the dog and this causes the dog to become even more actively anxious. If you know you are an anxious type of person, maybe you could walk in a different park.

Small fluffy very active dogs seem to cause an instinctual adrenalin rush in the coyotes: I’ve seen a coyote monitoring when such a dog passed on a path — the dog and owner were unaware of the coyote perched on a ledge above the trail. The coyote stood up, hackles raised and began trotting back and forth on the hilltop. In this case, the dog’s owners moved on quickly, but the little dog was not leashed. Most dogs are calmer when they are leashed. I’ve actually seen a coyote calm down as a dog was leashed. Two different dog owners told me that when their dog sensed that a coyote was around, they actually “asked” to be leashed by hugging against their owner’s legs! Leashing gives a sense of protection to everyone.

Any extremely active dog may arouse a coyote. I’ve seen a calm, resting coyote jolt up to attention when it saw this kind of activity, even from the distance. I think this may be because coyotes themselves are not at all hyperactive unless it is in a predator type of situation. It might be that seeing hyperactivity, such as that engaged in in dog-play may arouse predator and defensive instincts in a coyote.

What do coyotes do when dogs are not around? Life is exquisite for them in our urban parks which are full of small rodents and sources of water! I’ve seen young ones play, I’ve seen them all hunt, I’ve seen them sleep, and mostly, I see them resting on hilltops, basking in the sun, just like the little bull Ferdinand. Ferdinand was discovered by his captors as he sat on a bee: he was taken for being the most ferocious bull in all of Spain, when in fact, he just wanted to sit in a field and smell the flowers. Coyotes, too, are not aggressive, but they will defend themselves from dogs. Dogs are a coyote’s main threat in an urban area. Thanks for reading this.

IN SUM

*coyotes are not aggressive, but may actively attempt to keep their territories safe for themselves and their pups. The biggest threats to urban coyotes come from our dogs. We can help keep both our dogs and the coyotes safe, and feeling safe, by keeping them well apart in our parks.

*keep dogs leashed in a coyote area

*avoid active “play” with your dog in a coyote area, such as catching a ball

*if there is an encounter with a coyote and your dog, leave the area for both animals to calm down.

*you are unlikely to see a coyote often, but when you do, it is best to know what behaviors it might exhibit.

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Three Disturbances in One Morning is Too Much

Most coyotes you might pass in the mornings in the parks are on their way “home”. For the most part, they are shy so they don’t linger where they can be seen for too long — they prefer not being seen at all. However, they might stop out of curiosity: “what are you doing and where are you going?” Soon they will have ducked into the underbrush, and they are gone.

The few bolder coyotes, usually mothers and leaders of their families, don’t mind being seen at a distance on occasion. Until they go “home”, they might sit in a protected spot high up where they can rest in peace, like the little bull Ferdinand in the story book, and where they can keep an eye on things. If these coyotes are disturbed, interfered with or chased, they will complain loudly and openly rather than just run away, and they may turn around to defend themselves. I watched as this type of coyote was interfered with three times today.

I arrived at the park in time to hear the distressed barking that a coyote engages in after it has been chased or disturbed. This intense barking can go on for as long as 20 minutes. I decided to follow the sound and found the coyote still engaged in its complaining. Although I had not arrived in time to see what actually caused the complaining, I assumed that the group of walkers I was hearing had had an encounter with the coyote, and this distressed barking was the result of that. After taking a photo, I left the coyote barking, and continued up a hill on my walk.

Soon afterwards, I found this same coyote, calmed down, in a different part of the park, on a ledge where it had stationed itself. I watched it and took photos for a while. It relaxed most of the time, but stood up now and then when a runner or dog on a nearby path caught its attention. It always went back to its perch after these had passed.

THEN things changed. The coyote bolted up and stared at something on the path below which I could not see. The coyote got flustered and began running away as a woman yelled for her dog which was now chasing the coyote . The dog pursuing the coyote was a very large German Shepherd. The coyote ran towards a more protected part of the park and started, for a second time, 20 minutes of distressed barking. The dog owner must have grabbed her dog because I did not see it again. Meanwhile, the coyote continued its complaining, keeping its eyes on all paths that might lead to where it was. I have seen that these incidents only happen with unleashed dogs. Although everyone knows that coyotes are in the area, not everyone wants to take the precaution or responsibility of leashing a dog they know might disturb the coyote.

The coyote then trotted a little ways in the direction where the dog had come from, where it continued barking for a short time. The barking session then ended with a few little breathy grunts. The coyote, now calmer, walked back over to the ledge where it had been resting before the German Shepherd chase. The dog and owner were gone.

And now, there is an important point I would like to make. These two incidents may have emboldened the coyote somewhat. If they had not occurred, the coyote may not have gone into a defensive mode or set herself up to be ready when a third dog appeared. What I’m seeing is that if several dogs chase a coyote or interfere with it, the coyote’s defenses may build up. If one person lets their dog confront the coyote, it makes it harder for other dog owners to deal with the coyote which now has its ire up and is emboldened and feeling defensive.

The reason I say this is that I then watched a THIRD disturbance for this coyote — the third in one morning. Right after this last incident had subsided, a female runner could be seen jogging with her two Weimeraners. These also were unleashed. The coyote saw them and stationed itself to watch from a place where dogs could actually reach it — wasn’t this a bit provocative? The coyote now seemed prepared for defending itself if it were chased. As the woman ran by, one of her dogs went towards the coyote — maybe out of curiosity — I did not see if it was a full blown chase. The coyote was in no mood to be interfered with again and it did not head away from the dogs. Instead, coyote gave the display you see here and even ran after the lagging dog to herd it on. The woman ran ahead calling her dogs which were some distance in back of her. As this group ran out of sight, the coyote stood and watched them, and then trotted off in the other direction.

My point in writing this is to let everyone know that coyotes don’t want these interactions. They do not want to be interfered with. They want to be left alone. They want to rest calmly. But, if this type of coyote is approached or interfered with, and if its ire has already been awakened so that it is in a defensive mode, it might very well stand up for itself. ALSO, if a dog has had previous interactions of this sort with the coyote, the coyote remembers, and is prepared for this particular dog. The coyote may even make the first approach in an effort to warn the dog off before the dog even thinks of disturbing the coyote: better warn them off before they chase you.

These encounters can be avoided if we keep our dogs away from the coyotes to begin with by leashing them. Please help establish a peaceful coexistence with our coyotes. A coyote only has its self-protective instincts to follow. Dogs also have to deal with their instinctual and “playful” needs, but in this case the owner can call the shots by preventing an encounter. It is the dog owners who have control. They need to prevent all interactions so as to protect both our dogs and the coyotes.

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.

Encountering More Than One Coyote

The morning, which ended up in such a leisurely fashion, did not begin this way. I spotted this mother coyote early on as she headed up towards a rock. She stayed up there, moving between several high rocks, and eventually sprawled out on the highest one, but she definitely was keeping her eye on something on the trail below. Then, in a flash, she dashed off. I thought that was the end of my coyote viewing for the day. Within minutes the coyote began her distressed barking — she only does this when she has been chased or interfered with by a dog — it may be one of her ways of keeping dogs at bay, but it also shows that she is upset.

It turns out that she had seen a dog, a dog she has seen often, which got too close to one of her yearling pups — she had come to its aid. The pup was probably in absolutely no danger, but we have to see it from this mother’s point of view: after all, dogs have chased her plenty of times in the past. When she first appeared on the scene, the dog, which should have been leashed, chased her off — this is normal unleashed dog behavior. But she responded by returning and coming in pretty close. This is typical coyote behavior. It can only be prevented by leashing our dogs immediately when a coyote is spotted, and not allowing a “casual” encounter — you cannot predict what will happen with any animal, much less with a wild animal, and in this case there was more than one coyote — the mother and the yearling. Keeping your dog leashed and close to yourself will serve to deter a coyote from coming in closer as you move out of the immediate vicinity.

There is usually an alpha female somewhere around in any coyote group: she is the only one that breeds and she is the one that controls the group and is responsible for their safety. If we allow our dogs to approach or threaten — or even appear to threaten a coyote — the female may come in to help so that you might be dealing with more than one coyote. Coyotes work as a team when there is more than one of them, with one serving to distract while the other goes around to approach from the other side — this usually is more than most dogs can handle — dogs feel overwhelmed by this behavior. But the coyotes are trying to send a message as clearly as they can: “Leave!” and “Don’t mess with us.”  They will continue this behavior, coming back again and maybe again, until dog and owner move on out of the immediate vicinity where the dog had come too close to the yearling.

The dogs, too, may feel they need to defend “their pack”, which includes all dogs or individuals in their party. Each side — dogs and coyotes — want to feel they have “won” by making the other leave. In this incident today, once the coyotes left for the first time, the dogs thought they had “taken care of the matter”, but the coyotes returned to continue vexing the dogs and owner until they left. Only we humans can prevent these interactions from happening by leashing our dogs. It is a canine-canine thing which needs our intervention if we all want to coexist together: humans, dogs, and recently returned wildlife.

The best policy is to leash up and move on. Please read about coyote safety and how you can shoo a coyote off if you encounter one at a close enough range to make you uncomfortable: Coyote Safety published on November 3, 2009.

Stealthy behavior in the dark: Coyote behavior

Today I was up way before dawn, so I headed out to see what kind of day it would turn into. It was dark and clear when I left home in the car. As I reached the top of a ridge it was both dark and foggy. Not too foggy, but foggy enough to create a glow around the street lights in the distance. The San Francisco area has wonderful diverse microclimates which can all be found at the same point in time within half a mile of each other. On one of the exposed roads it was windy, lower down it was totally windless. In a swampy area it was ten degrees colder than elsewhere.

I reached my intended park where I encountered a fellow walker — the only other pre-dawn walker I have come across — and we began to talk. We stood still, remaining in the same spot as we conversed. It was still dark. We then moved on, and as we did so, a form materialized out of the shadows about 40 feet away. The coyote was barely discernible at first and not initially easy to identify because of its stance and the way it was moving. After seeing the coyote for a moment, my first thought was that something was wrong, that maybe the coyote was sick or had been injured. The stance is one I’ve seen coyotes assume, but not maintain for any length of time. This coyote maintained it for this entire encounter. It had its hackles up, its back was curved up high while it kept its head down — it was a strong U-shape, and it was walking on tip toes very slowly and deliberately. It approached the dog that was with us within about 15 feet, but never got closer. Occasionally it pulled its lips back to show its teeth in a menacing sort of way. The dog ignored the coyote and continued walking on the path in front of us. The coyote backed up along the path, keeping its distance, keeping its eyes on the dog, and remaining in its hunched over position. It did not run off, but remained about 40 feet ahead. Then as we kept walking, the coyote disappeared off to the side somewhere after which we did not see it. It did not follow the dog.

This coyote must have been observing us the entire time we had been conversing in one spot. Possibly it did not like the dog lingering there? I actually had a totally different feeling from this coyote encounter than what I have experienced in the past — maybe because of the darkness, but also maybe because of the stealthy nature of the animal and its stance. I remained in the park, but the coyote did not approach anyone else — in fact, it is unlikely that anyone else even saw it while I was there. Later on I noticed it in the distance, just for a moment, where it looked perfectly fine and normal. It had been much too dark to take photos.

Mother/Pup: Affection/Protection

I saw lots of coyote affection and protective behavior this morning. I was waiting for the rain clouds to blow by so that I could get a shot of the crescent moon. I like moons. I was sticking the camera back in its bag when I noticed a young coyote only about 30 feet in front of me. It had to have just arrived and sat down. It was too dark for photos except that of the moon. The coyote allowed me to look at it for about a minute before it headed off walking, and then disappeared.

A few minutes later, I heard a walker whistling loudly. He and his dog were coming up a distant trail. The coyote apparently had heard or seen this walker, because I saw it suddenly run away from the walker. It sat down to watch. Neither the walker nor the dog saw the coyote.

At about this time the mother coyote appeared on the scene, right in back of the young one, and sat down. The young coyote was ecstatic to see her: there was jumping up, muzzle contact, licking of the face of the young one by the mother, licking of the mother’s back by the young one, body contact. This affection frenzy lasted about three minutes. My camera settings were out of sync — so the photos are totally blurry, but I posted a couple anyway: they convey what they need to.

Then both coyotes sat, one in front of the other, watching the area where the whistler had stopped to talk to someone. This man soon walked on. Things appeared calm, so the young coyote got up and walked around for about 6 minutes.

This is when the first set of dogs appeared. These were two unleashed dogs which rushed right after the coyotes. The young coyote disappeared into the brush area, but the older, protective mother, after initially fleeing, came back, as is her normal behavior. She assumed her defensive stance: hackles up, pawing the ground, snarly face. One dog returned to its owner. The mother coyote made short charge-and-retreat motions towards the dog that remained to try to get it to leave. The owner of this dog called, hyper-hysterically, and ineffectively, for her dog to return. Eventually, the dog slowly made its way to its owner, whereupon the owner leashed it and departed.

Even before this first incident was over, three more unleashed dogs appeared, all belonging to one owner. They also ran after the coyote — the owner had absolutely no verbal control of her dogs. She seemed resigned to them going after the coyote, even as she ineffectively called them. I tried to let the owner know that this was a mother coyote who was going to defend her pup. The coyote was leading the dogs away from where her pup was in the brush. The owner of the three dogs decided to leave them — they were nowhere in sight. She went back down the hill. Then the mother coyote started barking, which is how I found where she was. The three abandoned dogs were near by, out of breath, and looking for their owner but couldn’t find her. The largest of the three dogs decided to go after the coyote again, causing the coyote to dash off to a hill further off where it continued its barking. The dogs, I assume, were eventually reunited with their owner, because the coyote was no longer being pursued by them.

This entire episode, or I should say two consecutive episodes of two and then three dogs going after the coyote, took about 18 minutes.  On the hill the coyote barked distressingly for another 3 minutes before calming down. With the dogs gone, she moved higher up the hill where she relaxed for about 45 minutes, keeping an eye on the spot where her pup had hidden.

Dog Reactions to Seeing a Coyote

There are all sorts of dog reactions to a coyote. Some dogs never see a coyote which is right there in the open, some stop and look, some go after the smell without even seeing the coyote, some chase, some bark and chase, and some dogs ignore it.

Dogs seem to be calmer and more in control when they are leashed. If a dog is on a leash, obviously it will be the owner who is calling the shots, whether it is a mild dog or an active one. An owner can easily drag his pet away from a coyote if it is leashed, rather than having to call a distraught dog to him/herself first. Yesterday, someone told me of a bizarre incident which happened a year ago: that they were jogging early in the morning with their dog, when a coyote came in at them from the side, making a running leap to land on the dog. This itself is very unusual coyote behavior and the only instance that I’ve heard of it. The dog owner was able to yank the leashed dog, and the coyote missed its target! This happened last April, which is the prime pupping season — coyotes are much more territorial and protective of their areas during this time.

If a dog is not leashed, there are several ways the dog may react to a coyote. If the dog is more timid and obedient, it may look to the owner for what to do: the dog will either stay beside the owner or come when called. Some dogs have been told in the past to stay off of the coyote, and they do so. One of my friends has an obedient dog, which has been told to stay off of the coyotes, and it always does so. On one occasion, this dog hugged its owner’s leg as it walked. The owner sensed that there might have been a coyote around, even though he never saw it — the owner told me this was very unusual behavior for this dog. In this case, the dog was trying to communicate unease to the owner.

The majority of dogs are somewhat curious about coyotes — they know the coyote is something “different” from other dogs. But different dogs have different degrees of apprehension or fearlessness or sense of fun and adventure regarding the coyote, and they act accordingly.

If a dog is not leashed, and the dog is an active type out for its free run, the dog will often chase the coyote, thinking this is great fun. It may end up barking incessantly at the coyote once it gets within about 15 feet if the coyote does not flee. The coyote will easily outdo the dog in length and intensity of barking — this becomes boring or tires out the dog. However, it is only when the coyote turns to chase or nip at the dog that the dog really starts to think.

Please see my entry on Coyote Safety” of 11/3, as well as the three entries on how coyotes react to dogs: “ANOTHER reaction to dogs” on 11/17, and “Some reactions to dogs” on 11/04. “Significance of a Seemingly Unprovoked Challenge” on 12/1. “Blatant Visual Message for Newcomer Dog” on 2/8/10. “A short back-and-forth chase:oneupmanship verging on play” of 2/4/10.

Significance of a Seemingly Unprovoked Challenge: Coyote reactions to Dogs

I’ve come to realize that all coyote behavior has significance. Figuring out what the significance is, is the challenging part!  Last week there was a dog/coyote encounter with all sorts of possibilities for interpretation which I will consider here. The coyote described here is a dominant one — the boss. The coyote instigated the interaction with lots of “challenging display” activity, but it did not attack. It was a bold display to communicate its needs, probably territorial, and maybe to try to make the dog leave. The dog’s owner could easily have shooed the coyote away, but decided not to because of the dog’s mild reaction — the dog did not feel terribly threatened or in danger. After this initial four minutes or so, the day became a totally peaceful one for the coyote — I was able to watch it for several hours.

For about 4 minutes: Early, a coyote appeared suddenly on a path in back of a dog walker — I was able to observe this from my position further back on the path. This dog is one who shows no interest in coyotes, but has growled when he didn’t like the way a coyote approached — that has been the extent of his reactions, as far as I know. However, subtle communication and challenges are hard for a human to pick up on. The dog is a large intact male Labrador. In the past, this coyote has shown a curious interest in this dog, walking a short distance in the dog’s direction and watching him from off to the side — I don’t know how much of this behavior was provoked/invited/caused by the dog itself in its own subtle ways. Today this coyote did not just curiously observe. The coyote approached the dog, not at all casually. Rather, it went into its “challenging” state with a message which seemed to say “don’t mess with me unless you want to deal with this”. It was scratching the ground, hunched over, lips were pulled back, head lowered, teeth barred, nose wrinkled, and its hackles were up. The dog appeared to remain totally calm, keeping its tail up and slowly wagging, but it did not retreat. And I noticed tongue movements in both dog and coyote during this encounter: the tongue sticking out in various degrees — a little like a snake’s — does that mean anything? That the coyote’s behavior was to communicate something was very obvious.

So, the pawing behavior occurred as the coyote approached the dog, and the dog growled with a look in his eye that said “back off”, and the coyote did so. Then the dog proceeded casually, tail still wagging slowly, towards its owner — the owner thought the dog did this either for protection or because he needed approval: the owner keeps his dog under tight verbal control, and he’s been told to stay off the coyotes. As the dog walked in the owner’s direction, the coyote came up again, this time from behind the dog, coming in almost close enough to touch the dog. The dog sensed this — he was facing the other way — and turned around. The coyote again backed off, in a bouncing retreating manner when actually faced by the dog. This same behavior was repeated a second time before the coyote headed off a greater distance not to return. Maybe it sensed that the “message” had been received?  In this challenge display there may have been many messages. In addition, I noticed that the coyote looked towards the brush area several times during pauses in the action of this encounter. I wondered what other coyote family members might have been hidden in this brush area. The message had clearly involved a “warning” — was it a warning that was possibly supposed to protect this coyote’s nearby family?  Other coyotes which we have seen early in the morning have slithered into this or other hiding areas at about this time. Or maybe this coyote’s sideways glances were just for planning an escape route in case the dog got fed up?

A professional dog walker told me that intact males seldom display any more aggression than any other dog. BUT, the problem is with the OTHER neutered male dogs: the other neutered male dogs all pick up on the hormone scent of the intact male and they are the ones that show hostility and aggression. Dog walkers have to be very aware of this. HOWEVER, female dogs, especially older females, tend to get excited and dance with glee around intact male dogs. This was not going on in this particular coyote/dog situation.

This coyote is a dominant one, I have come to see, who controls the family pack and its territory. In this instance, the coyote’s warning might have been telling the dog to move on -– we had stopped and had been lingering on the path after the coyote’s first approach. It might have been a warning to “not mess with me.” The coyote might have been making sure that it had the power to fend off this dog if it needed to? It might have been a “test” to see if the dog might turn on the coyote — even thought provoked. Could its challenging display actually have been for the benefit of those that might be in the brush area — could it have been a warning to them? Might the coyote be trying to “show” other coyote family members that it doesn’t like them dealing with this dog? This last is a question which comes to mind since two other coyotes from this group have come up in quite a friendly way to this same dog — never too close — it seems out of curiosity and with good will. We have felt that once, when there were two coyotes which approached this dog — one of which circled around so the other could approach from behind — that this was a coyote “training” session. This dominant coyote knows this dog is harmless, so I’ve tried to address the possibilities of why this coyote might have tried to challenge it. The coyote/dog interaction here took place within a span of about four minutes. The day became totally calm after this.

For 2 hours: The coyote then went off to the side of a hill where it lay down, even though the dog was still there on the path. By doing so, was it claiming this patch of ground temporarily? At this point, the dog walker and dog decided to move on, to leave and continue their walk. For the next forty minutes the coyote relaxed, keeping its eye on two thicket areas. After half an hour, the coyote sat up, just for a moment, when another dog walker passed in the distance. After yawning and stretching, the coyote repositioned itself a few feet over, and again lay down, continuing to watch the brush area in-between bouts of dozing, but nothing ever appeared from the thicket: were the other coyotes in the thicket?

For 45 minutes: After about two hours of being curled up in the same spot, the coyote got up and meandered up to a path, sitting down to watch a couple of dogs and four people in the distance coming up the same path — these may have been the reason for the coyote to move. The coyote walked several hundred feet up to an area where I have seen it relaxing before: not hidden, but next to growth where few people would notice it.  Here it lay down and calmly watched the few dogs and walkers that passed, none of which noticed the coyote. The “challenge” behavior earlier in the morning seems to have been an isolated incident, and specifically meant for that particular dog. After about half an hour the coyote got up, moving slowly, lapped up some water in a culvert, urinated and defecated, and then ended up on a sidewalk outside the park for three minutes before returning to a thicket where it was hidden from view.

For 45 minutes: The coyote meandered about in the thicket for a short time. It casually looked around, probably for any sign of gopher movements in the ground. It dug up what appeared to be a grub, carrying it off a few feet in its mouth. I assume it was eaten. The coyote then lay down sphinx-like, watching for activity which I could not see. After half an hour, the coyote moved on again. The coyote’s route included the same stretch of sidewalk as before, before it casually walked down into an open field in the park .

For 15 minutes: The coyote wandered in the open field, casually searching for food for about fifteen minutes, until voices could be heard. At this point the coyote stood fairly still by some bushes, moving its head just enough to take in and assess the sounds: maybe it was assessing where the sounds were coming from and the number of voices involved. As the coyote trotted off, several individuals could be seen on the several paths the coyote could have taken to leave, so the coyote leaped up over some rocks and then vanished for the day. I had been able to watch this coyote for about four hours.

For additional coyote reactions to dogs see three posts: “Dog Reactions to Seeing a Coyote” on 12/07, “Some reactions to dogs” on 11/04, and “ANOTHER reaction to dogs” on 11/17. Also, please see the entry on Coyote Safety” of 11/3. “Blatant Visual Message for Newcomer Dog” of 2/8/10. “A short back-and-forth chase: oneupmanship verging on play” of 2/4/10.

Coyotes Differ from Dogs

A coyote might resemble a small German Shepherd when you first spot it. Western coyotes are relatively small, averaging about 25-30 pounds, with a 26″ height and a 5 foot length including the tail. The tail, which is a key distinguishing characteristic, is very full and cylindrically shaped and is not normally held up high: rather it is always lower than horizontal. The tail ends in a black tip.

Coyotes are tri-colored, including white, black and brown — the brown runs from reddish to yellowish. Their over-all look from a distance ranges from brownish to grayish, and they often have distinctive patterns of color on their backs, but always with variations of a black and white fan-shaped stripe across the upper-mid back. A coyote has a thick undercoat plus outer weather guard hairs. In the fall and winter coyotes gain a much fuller coat which make them appear larger than they do in the springtime, when they can look very, very thin, after loosing these winter coats. The coyote’s underbelly, inner legs, and chest area in front of its front legs are white.

Compared to dogs, coyotes have a much longer snout, they are very thin and lithe. The long, thin snout may help them retrieve gophers and voles from burrows — I have actually seen a coyote “dive” head first into such a hole after the rodent has stuck its head out. Their thin and lithe bodies make them very quick. Cheek fur actually makes the coyote’s face look wider and emphasizes the thinness of the snout. The coyote’s bones, tendons and muscles are made so it can run after prey, leap and twist when pursuing quick moving small prey, and lope a long period of time without tiring.

Their high intelligence, aided by their very keen senses — hearing seeing and smelling are very acute —  has helped them survive in the wild and adapt to entirely new environments. They use their ears, which are triangular shaped and point up, to communicate with each other. Backs of their ears are a rusty red. They have yellow eyes, which can see in very dim light.

Coyotes are very secretive and and are very evasive, which is why most people don’t see them. They are naturally fearful and cautious of humans. However, you may see a bolder one right out in the open, quite unconcerned, maybe on a hillside. They keep their dens well hidden, keeping several of these as alternatives. This way, when fleas build up, or if the coyotes feel a threat is nearby, they move on to one of their other dens. They dig these themselves sometimes, but sometimes they just fix up hollows which they have found. Only 5-20 percent of coyote pups survive their first year.

The coyote’s front footprints can be distinguished from that of a dog, because its two middle toes actually point inwards, compared to those of a dog. Coyotes walk only on their toes!

Coyotes have the same teeth as dogs: four canines for holding on to prey. The teeth behind these, the premolars, are used for tearing prey. And they have molars for chewing, but these are not used frequently by coyotes unless they need to crunch bones or nuts. One thing I’ve noticed is that a coyote’s tongue is very long and maneuverable — possibly more so than a dog’s: a coyote can curl its tongue way out, encircling its nose!

Coyotes in desert areas are active during the cooler early morning and twilight hours. In mild climates they are active during daylight hours. When food is plentiful they might hunt at night, sleeping during the day. All of these alternatives have been noted in San Francisco.

Coyotes yip, bark, huff, yelp, whine, whimper and howl: these are quite high pitched compared to a dog’s bark or a dog’s baying. Coyotes may engage in these vocalizations for a considerable period of time — sometimes 20 minutes or longer. No dog bark will ever sound like the high pitched and continuous bark of a coyote!

I’ve mostly seen coyotes hunt alone. But I did see two females dig at the same spot. It could have been that they were working as a team: one digging at a burrow, the other waiting for the rodent to emerge. Coyotes are opportunistic eaters, which means they will adapt their eating habits to food in the area. They eat small rodents, insects, reptiles, fruit and berries. Several of them will prey on larger animals, such as deer, when the rodent supply is down or in hibernation.

Aggression should be addressed here. Coyotes are not particularly aggressive animals. Most coyotes pose little threat to humans. However, they will defend themselves against dogs if they are chased or interfered with — defending and aggression are not the same thing. One needs to look at statistics to really understand the minor extent of danger to humans: as of this posting, there have been only two human deaths from coyotes ever reported. These were bizarre anomalies. Dog bites, however, including from one’s own pets, are in the tens of thousands, and deaths from dogs are in the hundreds. The relatively few coyote aggression incidents have mostly occurred in Southern California where they have been linked to feedings, even if the feedings were unintentional. Please, never feed or try to tame a coyote: feeding them has been isolated as the source of their aggressiveness towards humans. Once they have been fed, they begin pursuing humans for the food they think is owed to them. Also, please keep your dogs leashed in coyote areas, both to protect the coyote and your dog!

A Few Hours of Morning Rest: Coyote behavior

I am going to describe two and a half hours of one coyote’s mostly-restful morning. The coyote moved four times after I saw it. Its “on the go” times were 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 20 minutes and 10 minutes. It stayed 15 minutes in the first location, an hour in the second location, 4 minutes overlooking the park and then disappeared into the brush. Here are the details:

At 6:30, before my camera would even operate, a coyote appeared suddenly below the path, fairly close. I think it had come in my direction because of a dog — a calm dog who does not chase coyotes. It sat on the slope of the hill, facing downhill, and looked at us over its back. Then, within only a few moments, it ran off into the brush. About five moments later it re-appeared again much further down the hill. We walked around to this area, a 10 minute walk, to find the coyote still sitting where I had last seen it. My walking friend and dog departed and I stuck around for the light to get better as the day progressed — maybe I would get some photos before the coyote slithered into the underbrush. The coyote had been resting here for about 15 minutes.

At 6:49 the coyote suddenly took off up the hill, to a wooded area next to some wooden stairs. I lost the coyote for about 20 minutes. During this time it probably wandered some more, and may have foraged, but I can’t be sure. It re-appeared sitting on the path a ways in front of me. The wooded area above this path is fairly secluded and shaded, not close to the path. Most people and dogs would miss seeing a coyote here, unless they were actually looking for it. After wandering up to this wooded area, the coyote remained here for the next hour:

  • 7:15 eats some grass
  • 7:25-7:30 lies down
  • 7:30-7:43 sits up and is “on the lookout” because a group of walkers and dogs have approached. These are dogs that have chased the coyote in the past. I am asked if the coyote is around and I nod. They see the coyote, then leash up. The coyote hurries up to be closer to an escape route, but remained in view. After the group has left, the coyote returns to its former resting spot.
  • 7:45-8:05 lying down again, eyes closing and head nodding, off-and-on
  • 8:15 again on the lookout as various individual dog walkers pass below — none sees the coyote. At 8:17 the coyote  yawns and at 8:23 it gets up and stretches, and then takes a bite of a twig

At 8:25 the coyote starts to wander, keeping itself interspersedly occupied:

  • 8:27-8:30 hops on a tree stump with all four legs — apparently the coyote likes the tree stump because it remains here a full three minutes, looking around.  Then it continues its walk
  • 8:38-8:42 it stalks a cat, initially staring at it and then moving ever so slowly and quietly towards it — “cat-fashion”, and then suddenly dashes in. Cats are too fast for coyotes to catch unless they are old or ill. The cat easily lost the coyote.
  • 8:45 the coyote urinates and continues on, wandering in an easy manner.
  • 8:46-8:50 the coyote has reached a rock outcropping, which it lithely runs up, and then over to the furthest ledge. Here the coyote remains, scoping out the wide swath of park below
  • 8:50 the coyote suddenly runs down the rocks, then trots briskly through the wooded area and down a hill towards a little rise on the hill below. The coyote sits here for just a few moments observing the lack of activity below, yawns at 8:56 and then disappears into the brush for the day at 9:00

I noted a lot of scratching during this time frame:  at 7:12, 7:33, 7:43 and 8:19.

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