“Mom Intensifies”, by Charles Wood

Friday evening I watched from the river bank looking east.  I stood at the chain link fence that separates their field from the bike path that runs the length of their field.  With me was my dog, Holtz.  We watched a dirt road about 130 yards from us, a road often used by my coyotes.  I hoped to see youngsters.  Instead I had an encounter with Mom.

I watched for a while and saw no coyotes.  Suddenly Mom was at the chain link fence, confronting us.  Holtz slipped his leash.  He barked and chased Mom south along the fence.  I ran and retrieved him.  Mom returned to face us.

I have observed her for a little more than a year.  Upon seeing me last Sunday she was content to mark and perform a short mock charge, the first aggression she had shown towards us.  Friday evening her display was intense.

My past impressions of her were of a timid coyote.  Her display this evening differed little from the Dad’s aggression.  She didn’t vocalize where Dad often does.  The fur on her back was raised, yet not as extremely as Dad’s.  She urinated whereas Dad usually drops scat.  Like Dad, she scraped dirt repeatedly, prowled back and forth and included a yawn in her performance.  She then withdrew to watch us.  What she saw was Holtz and me retreat north.

It was too dark to see if she stayed put or followed.  I took the bike path under the east-west main street.  As I emerged on the north side a bicyclist called to me that I was being followed by a coyote.  She had gone under the bridge, though it was too dark there for me to see her.  I reached for my flashlight and found I had lost it.

This evening was the first time Mom was out of her field on the bike path.  The bicyclist kept me appraised of her position.  He soon said she was looking at him from the top of the southern embankment of the east-west street.  By the time I reached him she was gone, presumably back to her field.  I went to my car and left.

It is important to remember that my coyotes specifically direct their aggression towards my dog and me.  Many travel the bike path on foot or bicycle and never see my coyotes.  A few people visit their field and are not bothered by the coyotes.  In contrast, the coyotes recognize me as an individual who, with his dog, while frequenting their field, got too close to their pups.  Until that event, I was able to visit their field and rarely saw coyotes.  When I did see them, they saw me and avoided me.  Clearly I transgressed and am singled out for negative treatment.  Perhaps the value of my experience with them is as an example of how to not behave towards coyotes.  Don’t, as I have done, continually bother a wild animal with its young.  Doing so brings risks that are difficult to manage.  My primary motive was to photograph them.  To do so, I ignored the best advice and the best advice is that when you see a coyote, avoid it and let it avoid you.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for these and more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

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