An Injured Leg

Some coyotes are less visible these days because they are having pups. But this is not the only reason one might become less visible at this time of year. Today I spotted a coyote which I had not seen in a number of days. I saw it because it had been “flushed out” by a dog. The dog had not gone after it, but the dog inadvertently came close enough to upset the coyote — the coyote had been on the other side of a bush. This coyote began an intense defensive display: hackles up, scratching the ground while bucking up, lips pulled back and teeth displayed. The dog owner and his dog turned around to go the other way to get away from the coyote, but the coyote followed them — in this case this was a behavior used by the coyote to warn the dog from coming back. When the man stopped on the path, the coyote began a long barking session: “don’t mess with me.”

I thought to myself that this particular coyote behavior could very well have been mistaken for that of a new mom coyote during pupping season — this is what first came to my mind because of the coyotes unusually edgy behavior. But there was another factor, which may in fact be the entire reason for this strong behavior: the coyote had a substantial leg injury. An injured animal may act much more protective of its personal space for its own feeling of safety.

As this coyote barked its discontent at the dog, a limp in the left hind leg became readily apparent. And yes, my photos show not only the leg being held up, but also a long red gash on the very lower part of this leg. So, in this case, rather than there being a new litter of pups involved, there was the phenomenon of a bad injury that would have kept this coyote lying low and out of sight for the past few days. I have noted several times now, after not seeing a coyote for an extended time, that its “lying low” was attributable to such an injury.

I know of at least three times within the last two years that this same coyote has sustained severe left back leg injuries. This time, however, is the first time I have seen a wound. I’m wondering why this same leg continues to get hurt? Could the coyote have been in a fight with another coyote or a raccoon? Or could it have been trying to escape from such a fight when it sustained this injury?

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carter Manning Wade
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 14:37:44

    Poor guy


  2. Lisa McDonald
    Nov 07, 2010 @ 22:44:15

    Are there wildlife rehabbers in the area that could treat and release an injured coyote? A lot of rehabbers in TX won’t, unfortunately, because they see them as “varmints”. Unfortunate attitude toward our highly intelligent and resourceful native wild dog.


    • yipps
      Nov 07, 2010 @ 23:29:55

      Hi Lisa:
      It is my belief that nature does a good job of taking care of these animals unless the injury is absolutely incapacitating. In the case here of the injured back leg, the injury is/was not bad. There was a paw injury in another coyote recently which did not warrant interference.

      Even in the incident a year ago where there was an extremely severe limp in the hind leg of a coyote for over a month — we found out that the coyote had been hit by a car — the injury healed slowly on its own. Any kind of trapping at all is going to absolutely transform not only the injured animal’s life, but it’s entire pack’s, and could endanger their very existence.

      In the case of the car accident, there were pups involved which few people knew about. The situation would have hurt more than helped if anyone had attempted to “help” by trapping to rehabilitate. This is one thing few of us humans think about. We often think we are the only ones who can save an animal.

      That being said, if a coyote were completely incapacitated by an injury, it would have to be helped. Yes, fortunately we have animal rehabilitators in this area for such extreme cases. And, fortunately, we have an Animal Care & Control Department which is reluctant to take in an injured animal unless it is clear that this might lead to death or aggression.

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