FIRST: A Guidelines/Safety Box:

1) A VIDEO ON COYOTE BEHAVIORS, GUIDELINES & DOGS: a one-stop video, by me, on urban coyote behavior and how to coexist with them, how to handle encounters, and why culling doesn’t solve issues:

Original Coyote Coexistence Presentation, Condensed version: How to Shoo Off a Coyote

Charla en Español     好鄰居–郊狼”    English: How to Shoo Off a Coyote

*A protocol clarification for when walking a dog  (not addressed in the video): Your safest option always is flat-out, absolute AVOIDANCE: Whether you see a coyote in the distance, approaching you, or at close range, leash your dog and walk away from it, thus minimizing any potential dog/coyote confrontation or engagement. If you choose to shoo it away, follow the guidelines in the videos, but know that what’s safest is proactive, preventative unmitigated avoidance: i.e., walk away.


2) MORE LINKS TO COYOTE BEHAVIOR & DOGS:

citizencoyote-by-janetkesslerPress on image above for another crash course on coyotes

Aside

*A Quote Worth Pondering (blog follows)

“If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other.  If you do not talk to them you will not know them, and what you do not know you will fear.  What one fears one destroys.”      Chief Dan George

Charles Wood, a frequent contributor to Coyote Yipps, adds: “I want to try and express Chief Dan George’s words a little differently, though I believe the meaning is the same: ‘If you talk to the animals they will talk to you and you will come to know them. When you come to know them, you will love them, with respect, without fear. What one fears one destroys. What one loves one defends.'”

For more photos, visit UrbanCoyoteSquared: A Gallery.

ACTUAL BLOG WITH LATEST POST BEGINS BELOW

Dog Chase, Calling Dad, and Rendezvous

The evening began with Mom asleep — or half-asleep — close to some bushes: every once in a great while she raised her head to assess her surroundings, and then dropped her head and closed her eyes again. Meanwhile, one of her three 8-month-old pups — the boldest of the three — was out “grazing”: hoping to find a vole or gopher as he waited for rendezvous time.

Mom, half asleep, while 8-month-old pup wanders close by in search of voles and gophers.

That’s when 19-month-old yearling appeared on the scene, strutting confidently down the path. But that didn’t last long, as immediately an unleashed dog with no owner in sight decided to chase after him.

Yearling appears on the scene, and immediately afterwards, so does the dog.

The dog was no match for the coyote who — confidently — sailed over obstacles and ran that dog in circles. This went on for several minutes. The dog wasn’t deterred.

The dog begins a lengthy chase of the yearling.
The coyote continues to run from the dog as the dog wears out.
The yearling bounds effortlessly up a steep incline which is more than the dog can do at that speed.

But Mom was watching and decided to get ready to help. She stretched and slowly walked over to where the two had been running.

Mom is not quick to respond: she stretches and the walks over to where the dog is.

The next time the dog came around, she faced him. The dog took one look at her and knew she meant business with the look on her face, her hackles up, and not flinching as the dog approached. I saw that dog waver only for a moment, and then beat a hasty retreat towards his owner. We didn’t see him again.

As Mom approaches the dog, he has a sudden change of heart about chasing and turns away. Now it’s his turn to flee!
Mom faces the dog defiantly — i.e., she’s not running from him.
Yearling plopped down on a mound, almost defying the dog to come back. The dog didn’t return. These little acts of defiance against their tormentors shows how coyotes are willing to stand up for themselves when pressed.

Yearling brother returned and lay on a mound, sort of claiming it, in defiance of the dog, as seen above. He lay there, keeping an eye on where the dog had disappeared, just in case he might reappear. That’s when this video below kicks in.

The video begins with the pup’s grunting sounds which soon cease as Mom begins howling — he keeps himself in the distance near the shrubs. The dog was gone, but she was upset. However, it wasn’t the distressed howling that comes from being chased. After all, she herself hadn’t been the one who was chased. As she howled away, her chased yearling joined her. Mom continues to howl, now apparently calling out to Dad to come — they face in the direction they know he will come from — and sure enough, soon he soon appears.

You’ll see a greeting session with all that involves: kowtows, body rubs, grooming, nose touches, licks, nips, vocalizations. Dad then leaves Yearling and Mom then to check on the pup. Everyone then waits for the other two pups to arrive — which is where the video ends — before continuing their rendezvous and trekking for the evening.

Food For Thought, by Walkaboutlou

Hello Janet.

Recently I stopped by a spot to take a break with dogs. It’s country but by no means quiet. An isolated factory on one side, a major highway on other. Sandwiched between them is a strip of forest and a small swampy area.

I was literally eating lunch standing there dogs around when a blactailed doe came pronking towards us. Tongue hanging and sides heaving…she had obviously been running hard. 

She blasted away and I put my pack in a stay. These kind of things happen often out here. I thought little more. Finished lunch and walked a little. We were in a rise overseeing swampy spot when I saw her again moving strangely.

I realized..2 coyote were working her. She sought water but it wasn’t deep enough. We didn’t interfere. My pics are terrible..very far. But within a few short minutes they took her down.

Many people get mad at scenes like this. But coyote are predators. And they will rise to the occasion and hunt deer.

Terrible pics very far with phone…but..you get this gist.

Not all coyote. Many coyote are chased off and turn tail from healthy adult deer. However….

There are certain coyote that develop skills or are gifted in detecting weaknesses. Being hit by cars, being wounded by hunters and lost, being ill from various diseases or old age…many deer fall into this category regularly. 

And bring attention from these unique coyte.

A 40lb coyote isn’t a powerhouse. But they are very enduring. And some develop great hunting and fighting abilities.

I think it ironic that many people revile them..because truly…they are the most adaptable wild canid on earth.

On the other end, a farmer I used to know back east is irate with a local pack…because they enjoy his handouts.

He has been feeding deer years damaged apples from his orchard. They have food plots and apple piles off and on ensuring deer are growing to very large size. 

But they also have noticed a local pack of coyote has grown very large and healthy.

They do not bother livestock or pets.

But they sure love apple piles, clover plots, berry batches and deer offal or lost deer in Fall.

If someone wants to feed deer, (even where it’s legal) just know you are feeding and growing more coyote too.

I may have tested our acquaintance. I told him….you are growing very big coyote. Good job! 

And finally…my dogs and I remove nutria from ranches. This invasive giant rodent ruins ecological wetlands..and property. They can grow enormous and reproduce explosively. 

One spot we used to dispatch them..has seen them go down in number. Beyond our work. I was surprised to learn local coyotes have sorted them out..and harvest them now.

These are not easy prey. They send dogs to vets all the time. Yet the local coyote have added them to the prey list. We’re very grateful.

Local coyote learning to handle nutria. This is a young nutria.

Whether it’s preying on invasive giant rodents, flourishing on discarded apples or taking down compromised deer, the coyote continues to adapt and thrive in the lands we humans influence. They respond to the situations we created. And flourish.

I tell people..remember…they saw and dealt with megafauna. No problems. And We’re alot easier then a sabre cat or dire wolf. 

Lou

Updates on KinkyTail and RIP Slim Jim, by Walkaboutlou

Hello Janet, 

I’ve recieved updates on Kinkytail and as well news of Slim Jim’s peaceful death.

The 4 biology students who also are rancher’s kids and grandkids have really kept up especially with Kinkytail’s life. They have goals as not only biologists but to turn several vast ranches into one enormous bison operation. Great kids and very observant. 

Slim Jim was observed end of October very slow and wobbly. He slept in open spots not caring it seemed but usually in middle of bison or out on rocks. His daughter Kinky seemed to visit him regularly. He was seen stiffly yet successfully hunting voles though nearly 100% blind. He also..every day..still tossed sticks about briefly in play.

Early on in November Slim seemed to vanish. His vocalizations weren’t heard. And Kinkytail howled for days…one of the observer’s said “that’s stress. Thats loss”. 

On Nov 9th Slim Jim was found curled inside a rounded hay bale in fields. He seemed to have passed in sleep. He had a small stick in paws.

He was examined by the students and cremated on his land on ranch. He weighed 38 lbs and seemed in reasonable condition. All of his remaining 7 teeth were worn very low. His neck and upper spine vertebrae were deformed it seemed by traumatic injury…(likely the wolf attack nearly 2 years ago) but he healed and was mobile. If a human..wheelchair and canes would have been needed. Slim carried on. His cataracts were thick. Glimmers of light likely seen and shadows. Age likely 12-14 years. A tooth was removed to age in lab. 

The indomitable Kinkytail

Rest well Slim Jim. In his long life we only knew his latter years.His mate and pups were killed by wolves and he was injured badly. His surviving daughter Kinkytail not only survived with him..but grew up ultra advanced. Some call her mean and ruthless type. Kinky got her Mate early in life and pupped as yearling. She then came back to her old place and Slim (again). She fetched her Father when she pupped. He babysat. She seemed to check on Slim often in his little pocket of quiet. Currently..she has banished a daughter pup. She is driving off her Mate it seems. He seemed “lackluster” in helping defend turf or following passing wolves or dogs or seeing off coyote visitors. 

Older pic of Many Blows. His swelling is now reduced. He is a very scarred but powerful veteran coyote.

She is being visited often by Many Blows..an older veteran coyote who had swollen jaw months. Many Blows had 2 younger female follower..whom Kinkytail has routinely chased off. They have not been seen recently. And Many Blows keeps chasing the lackluster but confused Mate..and Kinkytail watches in approval.

Kinkytail grew up in enormous litter of two combined litters. Her older sister returned when widowed and bore her litter with her and Kinkys mom. So…

Kinky grew up with huge litter. Which attracted wolves. Her Mom and littermates wiped out, she stuck with injured Dad and grew up fast. Very intense little coyote.

Bad Ears Pack…making incursions but kept at bay.

Kinkytail will spot you and bark miles away. She trails wolves when they pass through and escorts them out. At distance. She accepts the students who watch her..and disappears on other humans.

Same with ranch dogs. She knows the locals. Including my pack. Chases strange dogs off her land.

She has an intensity and toughness surpassing any so far. Especially for one so young. She seems very strategic. All summer she has resisted the incursions and scouting of the Bad Ear Pack. All of them bear her tooth marks. It’s thought with a powerhouse like Many Blows Kinky Tail will do very well in future.

It’s always guessing with the coyote. Wild lives are tenuous and can change in literal heartbeats. But..Kinky Tails aura is no guesswork. And Slim Jim’s life was a great one indeed.

Lou

Four Coyote Myths Debunked, by Julie Zigoris of The SF Standard

Here are some myths I’ve been writing about for some time, at last appearing in newsprint!

For more, go to: https://sfstandard.com/community/4-myths-about-sf-coyotes-debunked/

Surviving Pup is Excluded

This was an eye-opening, unexpected observation. I arrived at dawn on October 30th to fog so dense that I could barely make out the outline of anything ahead of me. I was at a dog play pen and noticed what I thought were three German Shepherds meandering around. I climbed up the trail parallel to the enclosure looking for the owner of the three dogs. That’s when I encountered Ana, with her dog barking ferociously as she approached me on the trail and I wondered why. I asked her if she had seen the coyotes this morning, and she pointed to within the enclosure. The dogs in the fog had sure fooled me — they were the resident coyotes!

Most of my observations lately have involved single individuals, so I was happy to see several coyotes together for a change and hoped to record some interactions. Coyotes are highly social, so that was bound to happen. The fog and bad lighting were a problem — the “auto” focus was giving me a lot of blurr, but I managed to capture some telling activity.

I began taking still photos. The ones here show Dad, Step-mom and the single remaining pup. The pup’s sister had been killed by a car only a few weeks before. If you know coyote youngsters, you’ll know that they play with each other incessantly: they are always on top of each other, chasing, tackling, poking, teasing — life for them is one of perpetual motion. There were two pups that survived in this family until a couple of weeks ago when Sister was hit by a car and killed. So this remaining pup must feel exceptionally lonely. You would think that Mom and Dad might fill in the void, but that is not what happened as I watched. In fact, the youngster was excluded from the mated pairs fun and games.

Above you see Mom and Dad together, horsing around and teasing each other. Six-month old pup is off to the side.

Here above is the pup, reaching in their direction but not part of the play.

And here, above, he is looking on as his parents play.

The youngster attempted several times to join the fun, but they never invited him in. Instead, the parents were into their own courting play: pair-bonds are being formed and/or strengthened at this time of the year, so that’s where the focus and energy were going. In the last series of photos above, the adults end up turning on the pup angrily, snarling at him and grabbing his snout. In the last photo he snarled back at his step-mom. Below is a video of the group’s interactions immediately after the above stills were taken.

Hunters may no longer be dictating Wildlife Policy

A new philosophy is being established for how our country’s wildlife is being managed. Hunters and the NRA have always had a monopoly on decision making in this arena. But this is now changing, as explained in this article below. More environmentalists and non-hunters are entering the controversial conversation, and they want to rely on nature, in all of its glory, to balance itself more naturally, rather than massively killing predators. Please add your voice and support to the numerous organizations listed which are opposed to “managing” wildlife mostly for the benefit of hunters. I’m posting this as a follow-up to Walkaboutlou’s article on slaughter hunting. Press the long link below the photo to read the article which was published in Outdoorlife.

Repercussion of Slaughter Hunting: Survivor Coyotes, as observed by Walkaboutlou

A Genocide mentality

Hi Janet,

This email [won’t be liked by many readers of your site] but I wanted to share it with you. It’s hard to fathom some of the recent realizations I’ve had with some coyote hunters. But at same time it’s also developed coyote off the chart in abilities and toughness.

East of here 100 miles there are areas of enormous coyote populations. The terrain and food favor them. Also … 3 years of widespread fires have given new opportunities to coyote. 

I don’t worry about the species obviously. But it still is an effort to detach and analytically interpret the current situation area by area.

Some of these hunters are getting 30, 40, or more coyotes in less than 2 days. I find it excessive and morally repugnant. 

But then you realize … how far reaching this is to the species. I cannot adequately describe the survivor coyotes vigor and behaviors … except that they recover in populations immediately. They scatter, rally, create new packs or pairs … and thrive.

At same time … I’m sure it creates generational PTSD of sorts. Not as humans. But relatable. When a hiker or rancher says coyote came to their dog and attacked unprovoked … there are reasons.

These survivors were hunted by teams and packs of dogs accompanied by rifles, infrared rifles and more. A pack of coyote can be wiped out in moments. So the survivors saw, heard, etc… family wipeouts. The memory of aggressive dog packs … stays.

And hence why some coyote seem to act in ways seeming unfathomable.

I’ve lost some ranch property patrols due to not sharing local coyote knowledge. I don’t care really. 

Sorry to vent … but the numbers hunted as well as the behaviors it unleashes in human and coyote has been growing in ways I am still trying to grasp.

I can only take succor in knowing the coyote will absolutely overcome and thrive.

Lou

===================

Hi Lou —

Gosh, the bloodbath makes me want to cry — you have to wonder why and how this cruelty ever got so out of hand — in such a massive way. 

I know there is unbelievable hate for this animal. Even here in San Francisco, the hate boils over among certain individuals — individuals who don’t want to think, they just accept what they’ve been taught: that coyotes are vermin and need to be eradicated. People try to convince me it’s based on fear, but I don’t think so, I think it’s just hate, on the level of racial hatred in some people. Yes, occasionally, small dogs have been taken and killed by coyotes, but also by bigger dogs: one is accepted, one is not.

I’ve read where 400,000 coyotes are killed every single year here in the US, mostly by our own government “Wildlife Services” — which means that our tax dollars are supporting it. That agency works not to preserve and protect wildlife as the name somehow implies, but works at the beck-and-call of ranchers like the ones you know. 

It is known that the coyote population has not been affected at all by all this persecution: they soon make up the difference in their numbers. I’ve seen it on a small scale here in SF where an alpha male was shot by authorities (for protecting his densite), and then a newcomer male came in and bred with both the alpha female and her daughter: the stable social order was disrupted by the shooting. So this is how the population soon gets back to what it was. In this particular family, after one season, it’s back to one alpha male and one alpha female again. 

So this is exactly what you are saying, only you have an inside view of it all: the killing frenzy “among the hunters with their dog packs and infrared rifles”, and then how coyotes, amazingly, resiliently, respond: “by scattering, rallying, creating new packs and pairs and surviving.” I’m sorry you’ve lost some of your patrols. Thank you for sharing with me. The trickle-down effect of it all as you are able to see it from your immersed perspective is what’s most interesting.   :((  I myself think more people need to know about it.

Janet

=========

Hi Janet,

I think coyote hunting at this level across certain communities is at a political religious cultural biased prejudiced vibes. It is almost always by certain groups and the incredible thing is ….

It’s accepted and very enjoyed by whole communities … and that coyote actually go right back to even greater numbers. I cannot think of any predator or even mammal that can take that kind of sustained persecution save rats. And coyote are not rats.

It’s getting harder for me in some ways to go to certain places. I just do not enjoy areas that have this sort of hunting. It feels spiritually morally personally so wrong. 

And oh … yes … the trickle down is you have coyote who are ghosts … and also either stay invisible … or become really aggressive raiders. They will kill sheep goats etc..very erratically. They sometimes will surplus kill. They won’t return to any kills. They become real issues and very hard core. I have seen coyote keep to hills and jackrabbits. Then persecuted … becoming the coyote you don’t want. The pet nabbing livestock killing ghost you will never beat. In packs. People create the local coyote. Every time. I just can’t conceive how most people don’t get this fact. Leave them be: Pairs of stability. Hunt them hard: Canine chaos. I think many young men ENJOY the havoc of a predator that absolutely comes back. So it isn’t control. It’s..more of a deviant view of hunting morals. And it won’t stop.

Yes … there are people here that regularly kill scores of coyotes in mere days … and somehow … coyote return in more numbers then ever. The fires … the open areas created by fires … the relentless year round hunting..the arrival of wolves … all have caused larger packs and numbers of coyote. There is no animal as vilified or successful then they are. 

Lou

============

Hi Lou —

Yes, morally and ethically soooo gut-wrenchingly wrong. I have a question: You say there are MORE coyotes after the persecution, but I’m under the impression, based on what I’ve seen here in San Francisco, that their *territoriality* actually limits the population. Each territory here in the City is about 2 square miles, which is about half of what it is in the wild, and each of those territories is claimed by ONE family — no other coyotes are allowed in, so there’s not room for other coyotes except a very few interlopers who hang out on the periphery of territories, hoping one of the alphas who has a territory dies or loses ability to defend his turf. So where would the *more* coyotes fit in? More territories??

Janet

========

Hi Janet, 

In answer to your questions … I’m not a biologist and can only answer for what we’ve experienced regionally especially last 4 years. 

The thought and reality of territoriality is subjective to the realities of terrain and the canines there.

Your land there and ours here could be different planets.

Here … the lands are absolutely enormous for coyote. To them … without measure. And while they would like a solid territory and stable family… that simply is the exception rather then the case.

Several factors create local numbers of coyotes to increase. 1) 3 years of expansive fires have created vast open areas that within a year grow grasses…and huge populations of voles. The flush of new lands led to large litters. Then … east of us, several professional coyote hunters developed. These are not drive on dirt road take a lucky shot guys. They develop dog teams that lure in coyote for shots with high accuracy rifles. They even use infrared and night vision equipment. They literally can wipe out whole packs in moments. And they travel vast areas methodically and meticulously to hunt down any coyote anywhere.

When inevitably a coyote survives such persecution, especially if young, they scatter. They give up territorial claims in the face of overwhelming pressures. If they have seen a partner or pack wiped out they especially scatter.

Imagine dozens of coyote chaotically roaming while being hunted sometimes days or weeks or months.

When the hunters leave area or ease up, the canid diaspora settles … then you see by calls and behaviors almost a gold rush type of rapid influx. Coyote combing and marking and calling.

We also are seeing many coyote stay peripheral and semi nomadic. If a coyote is pressured by snares and traps and greyhounds and decoy dogs and distant marksman or night hunts, they simply give up any patterns of territoriality. They may prefer some areas but lay no claims definitively. You cannot claim homes when war is being waged upon you. You dont garden. You don’t set up. You eat. You rest. You move constantly.

Hence..a quiet spot gets many coyote nomads, locally flooding the scene…until spring denning time or hunting shifts everyone again. 

If this sounds chaotic..it is! And there are no hard and fast rules.

But in the face of extreme hunting, coyote become extreme. And will continue to roam rally and somehow…increase numbers even if giving up some traditional behaviors.

Lou

==========

Hi Lou —

So it’s the single youngsters who make up this chaotic group of increased numbers, and order presumably would be re-established when they pair up and claim exclusive territories. Is that wild group reproducing, and if so, where might they be hiding their pups if they don’t have protective territories? 

Janet

===============

I would think it’s yes ….mainly pups and yearlings that become nomadic in high pressure settings. Anywhere from 5 months to yearlings. Then they pair up … but the incessant hunting never ends. Never. So pairs of territorial parents just try their best to raise pups to a level of independence. High pressured packs usually are forced to fragment. Also … in some areas … nomadic coyote dont establish the typical den area. They den wherever its quiet. We’ve seen old tractors, sheds, barns, as den sites. Drains. And they move pups ceaselessly. Few days or week here. Move litters constantly here or there. 

PS-In essence … the coyote blueprint impels them to follow the canid plans. Establish territory. Pair up. Build a possible pack. 

However…

Incessant human hunting and pressures cause coyote to go into permanent evasive tactics and endless strategies. 

They do try to settle in lands. Most find it nearly impossible to live normally. So they switch into the chaotic often nomadic type of surviving until they sense a good place or time.

Ironically … some of them choose highway median stretches of grass … and have raised whole litters between highways! 

Lou

One of Scout’s Two 6-Month-Old Pups Killed by a Car

Xochitl (so-cheel) was only six months old when she was hit by a car, probably in the early evening as her body was cold by the time we found it predawn the next morning.

On Friday, before dawn, my friend Melina called me to let me know there was a dead coyote on the road. I was able to meet her 15 minutes later. I identify coyotes by their faces, but it’s almost impossible for me to identify a dead coyote by its face — I need to see the placement of his or her active eyes, among other things.

There had been two different coyote families living on opposite sides of that dangerous road, but recently we hadn’t seen any members of the first family and we kept noticing the second family — Scout’s family — encroach further and further into the first family’s territory. I wanted to confirm its identity by identifying the coyotes that were hanging out close-by.

Melina led me to where she had seen four coyotes up the hill; two were still there when we got there : they were lying down, watching the daybreak. I was able to capture this photo of their silhouettes only because the camera was aimed at the daybreaking sky — but it was too dark to identify them. Melina wondered if their lying there was connected to the dead coyote.

The two coyotes got up when they saw us and headed towards the road which they crossed close to where we picked up the dead pup. My camera would not focus because of lack of light and soon the coyotes were out of sight. Luckily, I spotted them again on the other side of the road, and was able to capture a couple of identifiable images in spite of no light and distance. Yes, this was Scout’s family: the coyotes who had been hanging out were Scooter (Dad) and Scout’s other pup. The two that were no longer there would have been Scout and a yearling.

What remains of Scout’s family now is herself and her mate, a two-year-old male, two yearlings, and one pup born this year. They cross a lot of roads as they cover their fragmented territory — two of them high-speed roads. Cars should be considered the coyotes’ main predator in urban areas.

A Rendezvous (with changing sibling dynamics)

One of the most exciting parts of a coyote’s day is the nightly rendezvous. Here, family members who have been resting and sleeping during the daylight hours in spread-out parts of their park, come together to socialize and reconfirm their bonds and statuses before going off on their hunting treks. Each rendezvous can be quite different, some involving the whole family, some involving just parts of the family, some all wiggly and happy with play and games, and some not so. As the pups and yearlings grow, their relationships to each other develop in a gamut of directions. Here is one such rendezvous. Unless you know the individuals and can tell them apart, and know what is going on, these interactions and their nuances can be easily missed. They often occur within a split second, so a camera helps firm up what’s happening. The portion of the rendezvous that I saw and wrote about here lasted a little over an hour. I use a lot of photos to explain the abundance of interactions and activity.

The picture galleries can be clicked on to scroll through them at a higher resolution.

It was hot when I arrived at the park about half an hour before sunset. Mom was napping only about 50 feet from the path — unusually close to the path for her — while one of her yearling sons had begun some early exploring and hunting before the family rendezvous. The few humans, some with dogs, who passed by were a quiet bunch. Many did not even notice the coyotes. The sleeping coyote raised her head off and on to watch some of the passers-by, especially if their unleashed, active dogs caught her attention, and the yearling wandered over to a secluded spot in the field where he sprawled out in the growing shade to cool off. It appeared that not much was going to happen with the coyotes socially until the evening wore on a little more — everyone was waiting.

Yearling brother #1 wandering around aimlessly waiting

But then a second male sibling appeared. He looked around, assessed that nothing was going on and found a spot where he, too could bide his time until the evening meetup.

Brother #2

And that’s when both brothers set eyes on each other, and things were not calm from then on. These two brothers used to be best buddies, but over time this devolved to where now Brother #1 can’t stand the presence of Brother #2. So, Brother #1 came charging towards brother #2 who knew exactly what to expect because the behavior had become routine by now. In response, Brother #2 crouched, drew into himself, and fell to the ground on his back while Brother #1 stood over him with hackles up and snarling menacingly. When Brother #2 found an opportunity, he made a dash to get away as Brother #1 watched him almost disdainfully (see photos immediately below).

Brother #2 continued heading away from his tormentor towards Mom who was still lying on her side in the grasses not far away. Brother #1 followed him. As they approached her, they hugged the ground and crouched, respectfully acknowledging her alpha status. When this ranking is no longer respected, if it comes to that, the youngster will be pushed out of the territory.

Approaching Mom requires a show of submission

But the two brothers were dealing also with their own interpersonal dynamic. In the first row of three photos below, Brother #1 makes an effort to divert Brother #2 away from Mom by getting between them. This is a coyote tactic I’ve seen before for keeping a rival away from another coyote. But Brother #2 still had his eyes on Mom, and was not giving up on reaching her as seen in photo #4. By photo #5 Mom snarls at what she knows is going on. She doesn’t normally care if they fight, but she doesn’t want it happening right next to her, so she squelches the activity by grooming the yearling closest to her. Grooming is often used to keep an underling coyote still and force submission — the youngster has to put up with it.

But the very minute Mom stopped grooming her yearling son in order to scratch herself, Brother #1 took the opportunity to attack his sibling again.

Above are a VIDEO and a few photos of the short but telling fight. When the fight subsided, Brother #2 walked away, but both brothers obviously retained stress from the event: Brother #1 started pulling up dry grasses and chewing on them nervously, whereas Brother #2 lay down closer to Mom and did the same thing. I wonder how much of Brother #1’s behavior is built in: this antagonism with siblings seems to be one of the factors that leads to dispersal. These siblings are 18 months old — the right age for dispersal.

Shortly after this, and as they were calming down, Dad sauntered into view.

Dad

Brother #1 seemed to have moved out of the area by this time — I did not see him again before I left. Brother #2 (below) greeted his approaching Dad appropriately by crouching low and reaching up to lick his muzzle, and then Dad hurried off to greet Mom, with Brother #2 at his side.

Mom and Dad with yearling between them.

When they caught up with Mom they exchanged nose touches, with youngster Brother #2 in-between, remaining in a crouched, close-to-the-ground position. The youngster appeared anxious to make contact with Mom — maybe this is what drove Dad again to make sure the youngster knew his place in the family scheme. The youngster obliged by flopping to the ground on his back.

And here is another VIDEO showing more of the above. The video actually consists of three clips from this rendezvous. 1) Mom, Dad, and Brother #2, showing how reactive Mom got when her son touched her — yikes! Family life is not all warm and cuddly as many people might think. 2) As it gets later and darker, a third brother arrives and is greeted by brother #2 and Dad; 3) People are still out walking at this time, and Dad diverts them away from the rest of the family.

Everything then calmed down and three of them — Dad, Brother #1 and Brother #3 — spaced themselves at comfortable non-interacting distances, yet together, ready to go when the cue would be given by Dad for the evening hunting trek.

There’s plenty of space between them now

My camera caught a few more interactions, such as the teasing and playing below, and then it was too dark, so I left.

Calm bantering continues on and off until I can no longer see in the dark.
Last shot of Brother #2 as I leave. The camera, amazingly, captured this and adjusted the light.

Scout Fall Update

Scout’s story continues, but without the obvious adventures she had in her early life, or maybe they are continuing in a more subtle way, below most human’s radars. I see her only periodically where she had her pups this year, and just as periodically in her old hangouts where I used to see her almost single day. Instead, she’s become a stealthy shadow which my field camera occasionally picks up on, and who I see in person only a couple of times a month, if that. But I know from other people who know her that she has been moving deeper into her new territory which has/does belong to another coyote family. Will this be a territorial takeover? We’ll see. Remember that she had a baptism by fire in territorial battles and takeovers when she was younger, so she’s well seasoned if this is the direction she’s taking.

Over the last month she has appeared a couple of times during daylight hours at her old, original territory. During one of those appearances, she spewed her anger and displeasure to the one dog on her nemesis list. I wasn’t there to see or hear it, but I was told about it and sent a video. I guess she’ll never give that battle up. Interestingly, her two-year-old son who serves as the mainstay of the old fort, has taken on doing the exact same thing to the exact same dog, most likely in imitation of his mother. Coyotes do pass things along to their offspring in an almost “cultural” sort of way.

On her second daylight appearance, I found her and this same two-year-old son curled up in balls where they used to hangout regularly over a year ago on their old territory. She slept — with one eye open — right through my arrival there, not budging at all, but HE slipped off warily into the bushes where he remained hidden from view.

Two-year-old slithers into a quieter space, while Mom keep her eyes closed.

Meanwhile she went back to sleep. It was before most dog walkers were out and about — she knew she had nothing to worry about until they started arriving.

BUT, soon the dogs arrived. These three photos above shows her lifting her head, and then slowly spiraling her way to a standing position and finally “messaging” an approaching dog to leave her alone. She really didn’t want to move, but with the dog slowly approaching, and her son on the other side of her, she put in the effort to look scary. The dog walker got the message if the dog didn’t and complied by going the other way, and Scout went back to snoozing for about 20 more minutes. That’s when sirens sounded.

Interestingly, these coyotes have never vocalized a whole lot during daytime here in a response to sirens — these have more often kept their vocalizations to night and twilight hours. I wonder if daytime vocalizing is reserved for strongly established territories that the coyotes are able to defend? For many years, Scout was a loner here and she rarely howled during the day, even to sirens, unless she was chased by dogs, particularly her nemesis I mentioned above.

Left: stretching in all directions; Middle: looking over at her son and subtly communicating with him; Right, she begins to howl.

Anyway, a siren sounded when I was there, and Scout got up, taking her time about it. She stretched backwards and forwards and upwards. She stood there a moment as though debating whether or not to howl, and then looked over to where she knew her son was hiding, possibly signaling him to join her, and she began howling in response to that siren.

After she began howling, he then joined her from the distance: you can hear him in the video. After a minute, she walked in the direction of his howls and met up with him. By that time the howling from both of them had ended, and they both walker off together.

Scout walks with her son to keep him company as he leaves. Her son is the bigger coyote to the left.

She then returned alone, and, as seen below, stretched again in all directions and again looked over her shoulder to where her son was, assuring herself that he was happy and safe, and then she fell asleep again — with one eye again partially open. I waited a little while for something to happen, but nothing did, so I left..

A couple of days later I found her and her mate at their new territory at dusk, or maybe it’s their territory’s extension. I saw them as silhouettes, but the camera sometimes does better than my eyes and captured the images below. She’s with her mate in the first photo. They’ve always worked together intuitively and in tandem, almost as one. I love watching them work together, communicate, and even look at each other. He looks so much bigger than her when they are next to each other.

And below she’s doing what mothers do: grooming the one yearling youngster that went with her to the new territory (or extension of her old one). I see her two pups very seldom which is a good thing. Pups throughout the city this year are running the gamut from casual acceptance of their surroundings which include people, to continued careful wariness of them. I don’t know where Scout’s pups this year fit into the continuum, but I think it’s a good thing that I haven’t seen them.

Response to The Chronicle’s “An infamous S.F. coyote named Carl”

https://www.sfchronicle.com/sf/articleComments/sf-carl-coyote-17484087.php

There is a lot of misinformation, speculation, and sensationalism in this article. The sad part is that a lot of it is supplied by our ACC and by an organization that does not know our San Francisco coyotes first-hand: Why would they make such incindiary statements? I need more room to comment than allowed in the comments section, so I’ve posted my comment here: 

1) The article states: “To some wildlife experts, the warning is more urgent than ever, since the death of an alpha male coyote like Carl may spur a breeding frenzy”. My response: I’ve read such possibilities in academic studies, but the alpha male’s death by gunshot, over a year ago did no such thing. A new male soon took the killed coyote’s place, and indeed both the alpha female and her daughter became mothers together on this one territory for just this one breeding season. AND THAT IS THE END OF THE DOUBLE FAMILY. That alpha male has left and all I see these days is the daughter and a male who may be her brother — these are younger coyotes who were born on and grew up on the territory and are now taking it over as the reigning alphas. Again, we have a stable pair in the eastern part of the park and this is due to their territoriality. With more food available, such as might happen with a big increase in feeding, what might happen is that the territories could shrink in size so that eventually we might have more and smaller territories. Right now we have about 20 territories. But it will not spur a breeding frenzy. Coyotes die and are replaced as a normal and continuing life process.

2) When the alpha male approached the child — note that the child was not touched, was not “attacked” — he was protecting his denning area. ALL alpha males and females protect their denning areas. The denning area, with three month old pups was right there. NO signs were up about a den. I offered to docent, hand out flyers and put up more signs, but no one wanted to respond to me. It’s the fault of the city more than anything else for not educating the public and putting up prominent and visible signs: they should have known about this very natural denning behavior and prepared the public for it. The year before, the city cordoned off a section of the botanical garden that included a den; but they did nothing of the sort in 2021.

3) Contrary to what the article states, the killed alpha coyote’s mate did not move into Corona Heights. She remained and remains in the Lake Merced area with a new mate. Rather, the killed alpha coyote’s SON has continued as the new Corona Heights alpha male while his dad, before being killed, moved to the Botanical Garden. Please note that Carl himself, when he moved into the Botanical Garden of Golden Gate Park, took the place of the previous alpha male there who probably died. This is how it works: vacancies are filled.

4) The article states: “This rapid cycle of denning and procreating . . .” — My response: WHAT is this supposed to mean?  There is NO rapid cycle of denning and procreating. Litters are born just ONCE a year. The first litter we’ve had at Corona Heights after two years of no pups was this year: two pups were born this year. This is normal. There is absolutely NO “rapid cycle of denning and procreating” occurring at Corona. Whoever is supplying this information doesn’t know what they are talking about. Carl’s litter in 2021 — he was killed when they were 3 months old — was seven, which is the upper limit in size for a litter, but most of the pups didn’t survive. The information and language in the Chronicle article is irresponsible and provocative.

5) The article states: “Some have suggested that one of Carl’s sons successfully “seduced” the dead father’s girlfriend. And coyotes are constantly migrating into the city, probably roaming from the Marin Headlands and crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.”  My response: Again, there is absolutely no truth to either of these statements. Carl’s son who was two years old last year paired up with a 1 year old most likely from Glen Canyon. They did not have pups last year — there were no pups at Corona last year or the year before. They had pups for the first time ever this year: they had two pups. And for the second statement, please tell me which coyotes have migrated into the city from Marin — I don’t believe there are any.

6) The best way to avoid encounters with coyotes is to stay away from them, especially if you have a dog. Coyotes are very defensive against dogs who constantly go after them: they’ve been taught to be this way by aggressive dogs who go after them, chase them. Small dogs and children must be kept away from coyotes: this means you have to be vigilant if you are in a coyote area: all coyote areas should have signs saying this. If you start hazing — scaring off — coyotes indiscriminately, they eventually get used to it. Therefore, they should be hazed or scared away only when they are actually approaching your dog who hopefully is leashed and next to you.

7) The “stakeout” talked about in the article by Captain Amy Corso of ACC was set up by me. I did all the work. She had the badge and gave the ticket. I found the feeder, I found where the food was being left, I found the time the food was being left, and I found where the Captain could hide. ACC is not very good at giving credit where credit is due.

8) Coyotes don’t “drift through” San Francisco, as ACC states in the article. We have a stable situation of families on territories and very few transients. The population does not peak in September, in fact, that’s when it diminishes as the yearlings begin to disperse. Peak of population is right after the pups are born in April.

9) The article states: “Brace for what could be an eventful mating season”. My response: It sounds like sensationalism to me. WHERE does this information come from?

10) OF COURSE a new male entered Carl’s territory — vacated niches are always filled. The new male in Corona happened to be Carl’s son who actually grew up there. He filled Carl’s empty spot. This is normal behavior: I’ve seen it in all the parks. After Carl was killed, a new male replaced him in Golden Gate Park, having moved there from Glen Canyon.

Slim Jim Continues: Old Coyotes Can Raise Our Spirits, by Walkaboutlou

I found this photo by Martin Cooper on Flickr: “Very old coyote, hardly any teeth, half blind, full of arthritis”. It’s not Slim Jim, but it could be.

Hi Janet.

Summer is behind us. Fall is here. Still hot but..foggy mornings briefly tell us..yes..Fall.

I’ve spoke to the family who have for 3 generations allowed coyote in their vast ranch and ranges. They know the packs and individuals. They have “trained” the coyote with LGD, allowing coyote habitat to give them areas, and by allowing coyote to become stable and territorial. Coyote..DO NOT like to share turf with strange coyote. Thus..stable couples and packs keep out nomadic coyote who have their own habits and behavior.

It’s here that I’ve told you about Slim Jim the older coyote. Quite elderly and mostly blind he was last seen with daughter Kinky Tail and 2 pups.

Updates: 

Slim Jim is still alive and well. He had moved back to buffalo herd areas and spent rest of summer with them mostly. He has been very busy. He has easy hunting with voles. Even with multiple misses he gets enough.

He was seen hanging about an apple tree for about a week. At night he fed side by side with deer and slowly fed on big apples. 

Wolves have been seen going thru via trail cams. Slim Jim disappears days if wolves travel thru.

An elk died a few miles into range which is usually beyond nearly blind Slim. 

Kinky Tail and 2 pups and her Mate all fed from it. Kinky Tail returned next day..closely followed by Slim Jim.

He fed long and well..stomach huge. Kinky then walked back towards Slim’s areas..and Slim followed so close it seemed his nose touched her tail. Walking well along..Slim followed daughter Kinky until “home”. Kinky disappeared. And Slim Jim went back to apple tree, ate an apple and slept by nearby cliffs. The ranch family watched him and took turns seeing how long he slept. 7 hours till he woke and yawned…and slept 3 more hours. 

About a week later, Kinky and her family came around and seemed to have stayed. Slim Jim has company again and Kinky seems to have claimed old territory. But Slim Jim is allowed to do his thing and is peacefully accepted.

How old is he? We don’t know. He seems VERY old after summer. His teeth look worn. Pale face fur. But..hearty appetite. And plays with sticks often.

Slim Jim carries on. 

He has cataracts. He has outlived all mates. He has built packs and is related to many local coyote. He has been attacked by wolves and seen them kill his pack. 

But he’s here. And daughter Kinky Tail seems to watch over him. 

It’s a gift to live long. Have a place. And eat apples.

To Slim Jim

Take care Janet. Old Coyotes can raise our spirits. 

Lou

Madeline Woodbury’s Follow-up from F&W

Janet,

I’m comforted knowing you are there fighting for wildlife as I am.

F & W called me this morning; they will go over and call these neighbors.

On the other hand I realized The Sergeant’s own dilemma: she is just one of two F & W police.  This is a problem in itself: we need more enforcement and responsibility of humans.  I asked her calmly where does one begin to speak out, shift laws currently in place…. 

We both uttered Snohomish County Council.  I will begin here; I must speak out for the lunacy in which humans can get away with murder and the wildlife will lose every time.  Safeguarding your own animals is one place to begin.

I’ll find the next County Council meeting.  

But she has the address of the responsible neighbor.  I asked for follow up; she said I will not get a return call but to call later for an update.

I didn’t see blood [on the dead coyote] even when I turned it over, so it probably was not shot; it was in such a state of decomposition with the heat and blow flies and their larvae.  I wore a mask, gloves and brought a Native American smudge stick already lit and smoking.  If ever one needs aid for masking the smell of decomposition, bring this with you in a safe carrier, glass, metal, etc. it can help but nothing will mask the smell of death unless wearing a gas mask.

The wildlife officer stated exactly what you did about it’s being too late for a necropsy: the coyote was already too decomposed to perform this.

I would like you to post about this.

Thank you as always,

Madeline


Janet,

I had another follow-up with F & W; she did go and visit the coyote killer’s residence.  Before she visited them, she visited my site; we walked the property, saw where the woods meet boundary lines.  The residents who live there are treating my land as a park or woods that is public or as if it isn’t owned, or walked by other humans and pets, or perhaps other neighbors; they just don’t care. 

Postings such as: Keep Out, Private Property, No Shooting, etc. are what the F&W Officer recommends right now and cameras that send instantaneously to my phone or computer.  Do you have a camera that sends data to your computer or phone straight away?  And you like?  No red-eye, she recommended.

Would you believe the F&W suggested I fence the back woods?!  I was in dismay with her.  First, the wildlife should have free access coming and going.  Placing 6′ fences really sucks to me.  She could tell by my response fencing the woods was not going to happen.  So much for keeping it wild!  Damn, if we walled, fenced, wired all land – where would the wildlife go?  See, it’s this type of insensitivities that bother me.  Fence out the illegal activity.  But what about the wildlife that depend on roaming.  She could see I was very irritated at the suggestion of fencing this in.  

Instead of reprimanding gun-nuts and poisoning wildlife, she wants me to install fencing to keep the illegals out from shooting and killing wildlife?!  It more than stinks as suggestion!

Yes, please post this.  We can’t wait for someone else to do the thing that needs to be done, if something is egregious and we can take part in changing the egregious act – we need to be involved.  Change will not happen on its own.  We need to be involved.  I believe the more eyes and minds that read your site will see and learn too they can be the change against egregious acts.

For wildlife – thank you!

Madeline


  • To report a violation in the state of California, press here.
  • To report a violation in the state of Washington press here.

Bear With Me, by Madeline Woodbury

Madeline knows her coyotes through her field cameras. Above left: a limping youngster; middle: that same limping youngster acknowledging another family member whose eyes are all we see; right: a coyote who got some debris caught around his neck — it looks like a radio-collar, but isn’t! “They are so beautiful in their wildness.  And they’re so clever and smart; committed to their pups and family, aware, cautious, playful, determined, continuously searching for food and safety; they work hard staying alive in this world.  I admire them beyond compare.  Why they have been so persecuted; it’s as taking any group (people) many decide to trounce on, demean – torture and kill. I see them and they fill me with happiness.” 


Hi Janet,

Two days ago, Mostly and I, he’s my dog, found a deceased young coyote.  He or she was down by the creek.  Prior to this, for the past few days we’ve been smelling a corpse smell but weren’t sure where.  He and I searched a couple of different places.  But just this past Thurs or Friday we saw a turkey vulture land.  I happened to be sitting on the deck and just taking in nature when it flew in and landed.  It was around the area Mostly and I kept smelling the smell of death; I thought it was larger than a rat or rabbit or … but this was to the right of the deck.  *Note: we’ve gone back through this area searching, nothing yet.

Yesterday Mostly’s nose was going; I followed.  Behind the garage, down a small ravine and there on the other side, a young coyote.  I just teared up.  Of course, the smell was overwhelming, we’ve also been under fire watch, ashes pouring down on us for 2 days.  It was late and I figured I’d go out today to bury her.

I called Fish and Wildlife on Saturday.  They took my call and got right back to me.  Wasn’t sure I’d see anyone that day but had requested someone look at the body to establish: poison or shot.  

I wrapped him/her in a large paper compost bag and buried for the smell.  I don’t even know if F&W will follow-up.

It’s the bloody neighbors I just know it.  We haven’t had this issue since a few years back since I had it out with the neighbors to the south; I haven’t heard them trap or shoot a coyote since, and they own no livestock.  But these people.  I did tell you I ran through the woods when I heard gunshot a couple weeks ago?  We had it out.  They shot again and I yelled and threatened to call the sheriff in which I have and made a report with them.  What’s illegal is firing in to my woods: he could kill more than his designs such as me, my dog, a neighbor…

I called my neighbor who is also empathetic to animals.  I recounted what happened.  I told him I have a young coyote dead down by the creek.  He’s not happy about it; he told me years ago a neighbor’s dog was shot and killed for running after another’s cows.  He told me that neighbor who owned the dog was not happy.  What we knew of this neighbor is, his dog was abused by the family, it was mean, it ripped up a person’s arm needing stitches.  Why is this even worth mentioning: irresponsible again expecting a different outcome or not even being involved with your animal as it’s chasing down cows.  This dog was not even put down after biting people several times.  My heart went out to the abused dog with the idiocy of so-called owners.

A call in to F&W.  So, a respite on gun shooting but now poisoning, luring in an animal with meat/poison?  This is a first from them.  I told you these people are less than smart on how to keep their animals.  Makeshift tarps for keeping them in, etc.

I’ll call F&W tomorrow if I don’t hear from them.  The shooting, I have filed a report.  This is on my property; the woods run right up to where they keep their chickens and ducks.  But they will not continue to kill coyote because of their less than intelligent ways of keeping poultry.

I will reread F&W for Western WA and find out about poisoning, etc. wildlife.

Due to man’s idiocy wildlife pays for his ill-keeping of animals.  It’s not right; they list coyote as nuisance wildlife as a raccoon, bobcat, and you can dispatch any time?!  Man or woman does not even have to act accordingly they have the permission to kill any of these animals listed as nuisance.  I have work to do and to stand for.

I’m a little set back with my own health though as soon as I’m on my feet again, “nuisance” tagged on wildlife is ill-informative, hurtful to them; it’s brushing them off so someone doesn’t have to act responsibly.  Not right.  I won’t stand for the abuse, the carelessness.

I wanted to try to see if she was shot and it was extremely difficult today.  But it’s why I wrapped her in case F&W wanted to view.  I’m asking too much right now, aren’t I?  This just is not in their league, is it?  It’s why these entities need replacement with thoughtful and responsible persons fulfilling this work.  All around care especially for wildlife.  Not thrown off random acts of violence and poison.  Safeguarding your own pets, livestock, etc.  One needs to stand and be responsible for how they keep animals.

I’m frustrated, sad, and tearful.

Thanks for being there to talk it out,

Madeline

Vida Eliminated — with input by Walkaboutlou

[The first part of this is re-posted from my Instagram account, and then I explore a coyote territorial “takeover” scenario with input from Walkaboutlou].

Vida was a three-year-old first-time mom who suddenly went missing on July 25th, and we’ve not seen her again. She was a tiny and easy-going coyote who minded her own business and stayed away from people and dogs in her park. She was an absolutely ideal neighbor.

She had two four-month old pups whom she would not have just left. No, something happened — but what? There have been no DOA coyotes picked up by Animal Care and Control since then, so she doesn’t appear to have been hit by a car. The one hint as to what might have happened is the incredibly intense distressed coyote vocalizations every night around midnight close to her denning area over the period when she went missing, the kind I’ve been hearing, not after a simple chase by a dog, but after a much more intense and relentless hot pursuit by a powerful dog bent on “getting the coyote”, as I’ve recently posted.

I can’t help but think of the possibility that her disappearance might have been due to such foul play. The disturbing vocalizations went on intensely for many nights and pointed to violent upheaval of some type. I know it sounds far fetched — and this would be a worst-case scenario — but I wouldn’t put her disappearance past someone with a hunting dog who hates coyotes — maybe even brought into the city by a seriously disgruntled park-going individual. More than once I’ve heard several individuals say they were going to shoot the coyotes — take the law into their own hands because they didn’t like the law — the law didn’t suit them. The law, BTW, here in San Francisco, is that you can’t harm or harass wildlife.

There are a number of humans who are outraged and outspokenly livid that trails were closed by the Park Department this denning season, having been closed off to keep both dogs and coyotes out of each other’s way and to curtail conflict. In their minds, “whole sections of parks were turned over to the coyotes.” The people who think this way are not many, but they sure are vocal, loud, and self-righteous about it. They are individuals who feel THEY have a handle on how things “should be” and are unable to accept anything different — anything inconvenient to them. I want to point out to them that until the 1920s, Bald Eagles were considered vermin and shot on sight for hunting small animals and as a dire threat to children — they were one of those animals that “shouldn’t be here”.

I have seen large dogs sicced on coyotes by their owners in other SF parks — I was there and stopped it. What I do know is that Vida is gone and there were intensely distressed vocalizations tied into her disappearance, and then another female suddenly appeared and filled her niche. Fortunately, last I saw, Dad was still regurgitating food for the pups, picked up by a field-camera, so they are continuing to be taken care of. Vida has never reappeared.

As I said, I don’t have absolute proof that dogs were involved, I’m just speculating, as a possible scenario, based on my observations of the overall situation and all the input I’ve received. On the face of it, that’s the most likely scenario of what happened. But I want to interject another script or storyline possibility, no matter how unlikely, to show the breadth and depth of coyote behavior more than anything else.

A full month after Vida disappeared, my field camera in the area captured a pummeling fight between two female coyotes. The aggressive victor of the fight turned out to be none other than Libe, the new alpha female in the territory — the one who replaced Vida. I had no trouble identifying her. As I watched the video clip a thought passed through my head: What IF the smaller coyote had been Vida? This potentiality came to mind because the smaller, losing coyote had a similar size and body configuration as Vida. In spite of that, in Vida’s case, there appear to be too many negating factors: Vida has always been easy for me to identify, but I was unable to in the clip; the fight happened a full month after Vida stopped appearing, whereas if she had been forcefully driven away she would have tried repeatedly to reclaim her territory and family, but she didn’t — coyotes are intensely tied to their families; and she would have been more the aggressor rather than simply putting up a defense as might a dispersing coyote, as seen in the video — in the video it’s Libe who is doing all the pummeling.

So, more as a point of interest, I want it to be known that “takeover” situations — i.e. “stealing” — though exceptionally rare when there are pups, appear to be remotely possible.

Duking it out

I asked my friend, Walkaboutlou, who has revealed his deep understanding of coyotes from years of first-hand interest and observations, if he had ever heard of, or thought it possible, that an outsider single female could come in and fight and oust a mother with four-month-old pups from her territory? Could this happen? Do coyotes “steal” each other’s families? Ever? Commonly? I’ve never seen it. I myself had seen single coyotes ousted from territories, but in those cases, there were no pups and there was no mate, and I’ve seen the territories of older coyotes who have lost their mates taken over forcefully by a more robust and younger coyote pair.


Hi Janet,

I’m not a canine behaviorist professional in domestic or wild canids. However I always say …

Almost anything is possible.

I’ve seen seemingly stable and generational coyote packs that all have degree of relatedness and various affiliations too. Most areas are extremely fluid because coyote typically on average live rather fast lives. If you only have a few years to live, hold a place and have some pups hopefully … you live intense.

The ranching family I know who has known their coyote packs decades has mentioned take overs or changes. Sometimes a male or female is “driven” out. And their mate leaves with them. 

Other times … it seems some mates are determined to stay in territory, and join the victor. Much like cats.  The territory holds them more than the bond. 

I think any outcome or dynamic is possible. The contact calls and stress vocalizations would happen with dog aggression, or coyote take over. Its upheaval. 

I also know some coyote depart like ghost never to be seen again if they lose territory. And others are very stubborn to relinquish old stomping grounds.

However … the intensity of take over merits … usually … short term stuff. It’s usually just so stressful to both hunt and survive the usual … AND wage battles for turf it’s usually too much to maintain any length of time.

That being said … a Mother of pups and with mate is rarely usurped so early. It would be very interesting to know the history of challenger and her relationship with the current male. Some coyote …(like some people) don’t care about property rights, laws … or bonds. They see a place. A territory. A pack. And say…MINE. Take it or leave it. I’m coming in. You are leaving or submitting. Its mine.

It seems harsh. But many coyote feel impelled to take actions asap especially in areas where territory isnt easy to find.

I think there are outsider females and males that absolutely will take over everything. They may drive out the whole family. Or just the same sex target. (Mother, Daughters)

Fascinating stuff. 
Lou


BTW, the new female, Libe, two years old I would say, had been living in an adjacent territory as a loner for at least a year. That adjacent territory was not ideal in that it was entirely on the urban residential grid, composed of 25×100 foot lots with houses and apartments, and little open space in addition to small backyards, whereas Vida’s territory had it all: neighborhoods to trek through, a vast wild open space, a mate, pups. Libe trekked through her urban territory daily, usually at night, dawn or dusk, and kept away from people and dogs but allowed herself to be seen without any fear. I had seen her trekking right up to the periphery of Vida’s territory within a month of Vida’s disappearance, and may have been entering and assessing the situation. The only real interactive “behavior” of hers that I’ve ever seen is that fight in the field camera where she showed her mettle: she was pretty darn spunky and in control there. But recently she also has shown a spunky defiance towards dogs, challengingly occupying their play-space for short spells.

So, what I’m saying here is that Vida was most likely brutally eliminated/killed by a dog. BUT, almost anything is possible in the coyote world, as stated by Lou, including for an outsider coyote to come in and steal — lock, stock and barrel — what belonged to another coyote. Another circumstance diminishing that latter possibility here is that Vida and her mate were extremely supportive, playful, and affectionate with each other. It seems he would have defended her. But maybe not?

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