Injured Front Paw

I remember thinking a few days ago that possibly this coyote was limping just a tiny bit. It was so minor that I forgot about it until today. From a distance the coyote seemed to function normally, but as it approached I definitely noticed a limp and that the paw was held higher at times. I can only guess that maybe a thorn has become embedded in the paw or maybe the paw became twisted as the coyote maneuvered over uneven terrain. The coyote’s behavior seemed totally normal: It hunted for a while but caught nothing — but this kind of bad luck occurs even when there is no paw injury. The coyote spent time resting by a path — this, too, is pretty normal behavior, though the injured paw may have influenced the coyote’s lying down.

Wild animals sustain all kinds of injuries. A while back I saw a coyote limp severely for well over a month. It was not until six months later that I met a person who had actually seen the accident which caused the injury: the coyote had been hit by a car as it tried crossing a busy road during peak traffic time. That was over a year ago: it involved a back leg.

UPDATE: It was suggested to me — something I had not thought of — that it was a dog chasing the coyote which probably caused this recent foreleg injury. Right before I first noticed the leg injury there had been an intense chase by a dog who was actually faster than the coyotes — this is not the case usually. The speed and distance was tremendous, even with two coyotes involved. That I noticed the leg injury right after this should have alerted me as to what had caused it. In flight, there is little time for a coyote to scan the terrain for glass, rodent holes, protruding rocks, sudden drops in topography or other hazards. We never think how treacherous an escape can actually be, but at full speed, when a coyote is running for its life, the obstacle course can become treacherous in places. Just walking over the same terrain I have caught myself repeatedly as my ankle gave way under me.

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