A Dominance Interaction Between Two Coyotes

This looks like a dominant fella lording it over the guy in the water in an intimidating manner. The dominant guy struts and stretches, hackles raised and tail up, and then moves in closer with a snarly expression and more intimidation. Submissive guy stands still with his ears and head down, a non-threatening and submissive pose, and then walks away only when he thinks the coast is clear, tail down and constantly checking in back of himself.

My experience has been that young males are driven away from their birth families — out of their birth packs — by either a more dominant sibling or their father, or sometimes their mother. It looks to me as though this is what is going on in this video.

This video was sent to us by Amy Ries from the Raptor Resource Project. She said the EagleCrest Hawk camera is normally pointed at the tree, but the guy who pans saw the coyotes and filmed them. Thank you, Amy for sharing this!

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Charles Wood
    Feb 14, 2012 @ 10:48:59

    Thank you Amy, very interesting film.

    Looks like submissive guy wanted to get out of the water and dominant guy didn’t want him to get out of the water. By seconds 26 and 27 it looks like dominant guy is going to leave as he walks to the right of the frame. Meanwhile, submissive guy is saying where he wants to go, that is, to shore, by having his whole body headed toward shore. Submissive guy’s posture is meek, but he is asking if he can get out of the water. Seconds 28 through 35 show dominant guy turning to prepare for his final statement to submissive guy.

    Seconds 36 through 39 show, in my view, a key ritualistic signaling by dominant guy that his next move will be a charge. Those four seconds show dominant guy stretching. Stretching limbers him up and pulls together his intent and focus. I’ve watched my coyotes stretch the same way during dominance displays towards my dog and me. They have with us always followed a stretch with a charge. It is very interesting to see a charge following a stretch in this clip, it looks so very familiar. When dominant guy stretched in this film, I thought “Oh no! Here it comes!”

    The exchange between them also demonstrates why urban coyotes can’t be successfully relocated to the wilderness. They just aren’t wanted around by established coyotes and they most likely starve or are killed by other coyotes.


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