Fateful Encounters: Life and Death

Very occasionally I’ve seen the spoils of coyote encounters — pelts and skeletons and viscera that were left behind after a coyote, or several coyotes, had finished feasting. I have added these to show additional indirect signs of coyotes in an area — and to show more activities they engage in — activities that mean survival for them. What should be brought to mind is the interconnectedness and dependence of one life on another. An unexpected chance encounter at dawn between two creatures on different levels of the food chain might bring death to one, but it will enliven the other. So that one can live, the other must die. We tend to sympathize with the underdog, but nature sees things differently.

I show carcasses of a possum, a skunk, a raccoon, two semi-digested voles or mice that seem to have passed right through the digestive system, and yes, a cat skull. You can’t be sure how the cat died — older cats are vulnerable as prey to coyotes but also to raccoons — we have many more raccoons than we have coyotes. The raccoon remains were by a roadway, so probably it was hit by a car and already carrion by the time the coyote found it. Most adult raccoons can keep a coyote at bay.

There is a gopher and a squirrel being held by a coyote. These are eaten whole, for the most part — no spoils to be found. Then I have photos of a gopher hole where the coyote dug hard and deep to get its prey.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Josh
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 06:19:09

    Today I was walking my dog. I was on a dirtbike and we came across a coyote. My golden did not see it but the coyote definitely noticed us. I was 20 feet from it. The coyote backed up 5 feetand started yipping high pitched. I drove away and called my dog. She came and we back tracked. To my surprise I turned around to see the coyote in full pursuit ears pinned back chasing us. I sped up and got my dog to sprint. The coyote chased us for over 2 km. Full speed full pursuit. I have never witnessed such behavior. It gained within 10 feet but did not catch us. The trail is well used within city limits by bikers dog walkers and atvs. Have you ever encountered such behavior. I have come across a number of coyotes but typically the are way more scared of me then them. Especially strange as I was on a loud dirtbike.


    • yipps
      Jul 04, 2011 @ 11:57:40

      Hi Josh —

      Sounds like you had an adventure. No, I’ve never heard of a coyote chasing a dirt bike. Did your dog chase the coyote in the past? It’s always best to leash dogs in coyote areas. Typically coyotes will avoid you, but not if your dog has intruded upon them: startled them or come too close to a den. It is pupping season and coyotes are very protective of their territories and denning areas. It is your dog which the coyote is worried about, not you. As you, I would think that a coyote would want to avoid a loud dirt bike.

      You did the best thing by leaving. However, you probably looked like you were RUNNING away — that could be interpreted as an invitation for the coyote to chase you. I’m not sure how I would have handled this if I were on a bike. On foot, its best to walk off briskly with dog leashed, even facing the coyote. If the coyote gets too close, scare it off with loud noises such as your angry and dominant voice, flailing arms and even tossing stones in its direction (not at it) to ward it away. I have two postings which reiterate this: https://coyoteyipps.com/2011/06/16/new-pups-are-appearing-—-please-keep-your-distance/ and https://coyoteyipps.com/2010/10/31/coyote-coexistence-and-behavior-an-update/. I’ll try to think more about the bike angle. Meantime, I hope this is useful to you! Janet

  2. Charles Wood
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 10:44:44

    Hi Josh – That sounds like a difficult situation and that it ended okay for you and your dog. Janet makes excellent points.

    Like you did, I have come across coyotes when out with my dog. Usually they do run away. It sounds like your coyote was startled, that maybe it didn’t see you soon enough to just run away, that it got scared and began that high pitched yipping. The first time I saw a coyote yipping at me and my dog while fairly close was scary and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. The best thing to do is to leave. And what I now do before leaving is to yell at the coyote and work to get my dog close to me. If the coyote moves forward I make myself big, yell at it, stomp. I try and keep it back while I gather my dog to me. What I want from the coyote is for it to stay where it is, even if it keeps up with the barking. The main thing is to keep it away from my dog, keep my dog close to me and to not move toward the coyote. I don’t try and chase the coyote, the stomping and yelling should move it back a bit.

    In your situation, where you had a bike, I may have left the bike there. Yelling and stomping should keep it back, or get it to move off a little. That’s the time to leave. Back up with your eyes on it and give it some room. If it takes a step towards you stomp, yell, make yourself big, keep your dog close. Keep increasing the distance, but keep your eyes on it, walk backwards if you have to. If there is enough distance, you can turn your back on it, but keep looking back all the time and if it moves towards you, face it, stomp, yell, etc. You can always go back for the bike. It is really hard to manage a dog and a coyote, and really really hard to manage a dog, a coyote and a bike. I think a barking, yipping coyote is saying it doesn’t want to fight, but at the same time is saying its unhappy with you, and saying you better leave. The messge to give the coyote would be yes I’m leaving but you better stay the heck away from me while I do.


    • yipps
      Jul 07, 2011 @ 23:13:26

      Charles’ advice is superb — not only for what to do with a bike, but also for what “message” to impart to the coyote!

  3. vivian Flynn
    Aug 07, 2011 @ 02:18:19

    My neighbor’s older cat was killed and snatched away last night.
    Do coyotes return again and again if they were successful getting prey at a specific area. I am asking because we have a cat that likes to explore the area the cat was killed in (near the LA River). I am bringing my cat in by 7:00p from now on. I usually wait until 10:00p.
    Will a coyote hunt in day light?


    • yipps
      Aug 07, 2011 @ 12:25:55

      Hi Vivian — I’m sorry about the sad loss of your neighbor’s cat. There is always the possibility that a cat — especially an older cat — left out in the open and unattended might be killed, be it by a coyote, raccoons, dogs or a car, and it can happen at any time of day, just as these cats themselves might take the lives of birds, rats, voles, moles, gophers or mice at any time of day. The only way to totally protect a pet is to keep it indoors, or by watching it when it is out of doors.

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