Seasonal Fur, by Charles Wood

These pictures show my mom and dad coyotes in Summer and Winter fur. I’ve also included a picture of Dad after he went for a July 2011 swim. He looked surprisingly skinny. Both Mom and Dad in 2011 were underweight. I agree with Janet who had surmised around summer of 2011 that their 2010 large litter and two new pups in 2011 left Mom and Dad with less food, three or four of seven 2010 pups surviving and staying with them through late 2011. When too many coyotes are around, fewer coyote pups are produced, again as Janet reminded me this year when we saw just one pup. Again, Mom and Dad had two pups in 2011 and in 2012 they had one.

For me, my July 2011 encounter with Mom was significant and I want to describe it. The July 2011 picture of Mom was taken from a bridge and shows her looking up and at a time when her milk was drying up, a time when she was a particularly busy coyote.

Coming into view from under the bridge, Mom at first hadn’t sensed that I was there. The sound of my camera alerted her to my presence, interrupted her travel and she stopped. She hadn’t wanted to stop, but I again had bothered her and that disliked dog, my dog, was there too. She had to stop and “deal”, it’s the rule.

Stopped, Mom seemed only slightly disturbed. Then she slowly scratched herself, trying to rid herself of us like two dastardly fleas. Done scratching, she still did not look up at me. Instead, closed mouthed, she turned her head to the right and stared motionlessly off into the distance at nothing, focusing. Mom composed herself for several more moments, preparing to speak while exuding patient exasperation. She knew it was me there, above her on the bridge looking at her for the hundredth time, that horrid dog at my side. We were too close, but not unforgivably so because the proximity was entirely impassable height. Mom contemplated a safe yet unwelcome circumstance. Self-possessed, she sorted through the implications. Mom’s pregnant pause was longer than I expected. My mind cleared of all except anticipation. Mom looked deep within herself, carefully considering her next words.

What do you say to an errant grown man who, though knowing the rules, repeatedly insists upon transgressing beyond endurance despite having been told over and over again not to do so? “You, man, and me, coyote: here we are, too close now, inconsequentially albeit. I am unpleasantly surprised and actually sir, we don’t know each other all that well, now do we?”, she could have thought to herself. When Mom was ready she looked up at me, was composed, calm, stern and seemed to say: “Do we three have to do this again?” Mom asked me: “Must we?” That question was also her statement about who she must be. Before she had spoken thus, I didn’t know her.

Having interjected myself into Mom’s intimate space, from taking her away from her more important tasks, and from having been spoken to about that by Mom, I felt sheepish, humbled if not shamed. Yet I took her picture as she looked at me. Then, as she trotted away, she seemed wise and I like a child. She talked to me alright, and it was a significant encounter to me because that is when I recognized her. From that recognition, I began to love her. For my having taken Mom’s picture then, I would say to her, “Mom, you are a coyote, and I am human, we each are what we must be.”

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

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Knupp
    Oct 26, 2012 @ 09:01:54

    Love this story! When we built our house on the farm, we discovered 2 coyotes who seemed to consider our farm to be their farm. The property had been crop land and no human had actually lived on it for years. The coyote pair – my husband named them George and Gracie – kept their distance but felt free to trot down our driveway in early morning or at dusk. We often thought they looked upon us as unwelcome intruders who had some nerve to invade their property. I saw George watering a hay bale by the barn one afternoon. As we gardened one evening, one stood about 50 yards away looking on with disgust. What is happening to the neighborhood? Sadly, George was probably hit by a car. I wonder what happened to Gracie. We rarely see a coyote now except for photos on the game cameras. The new guys are very reclusive and are careful to stay out of sight. We miss our sightings of George and Gracie.

    Also, thanks for the photos of Mom and Dad. Their condition looks similar to the very gaunt coyotes caught on the (quite bad) game camera photo from June.

    Husband found remains of a wild turkey in one of the fields yesterday. Could a coyote take a turkey? There are no dog packs in the area. The only other nonhuman predators here are a bob cat and hawks. An adult turkey would be difficult to take, I would think.

    Reply

  2. Charles Wood
    Oct 26, 2012 @ 18:20:13

    Thank you Barbara. Coyotes will eat birds, but birds don’t account for much of their diet, from what I’ve read. Coyotes do eat eggs from nests on the ground as shown in the Chicago study regarding geese and coyotes.

    Relations with your coyote neighbors sound as they should, where you just don’t see the coyotes. I wouldn’t want a George and Gracie coyote couple coming around my house marking things like they own it and even 50 yards is too close. We wouldn’t tolerate human neighbors popping in on us whenever they felt like it to stand around and stare disrespectfully at our goings on. A coyote who does that around human habitation needs an attitude adjustment, such as reinstilling their natural fear of humans by a good hazing.

    Reply

  3. Boni
    Nov 14, 2012 @ 13:16:03

    I have a question. I live in central Fla, I have a high population of coyote out here in the woods. Recently I’m having a problem with one harassing my dogs. He has been close to the house calling, and the minute I bring my dogs in off the deck he comes up and marks all around my deck. Do I need to be concerned with this behavior?

    Reply

    • yipps
      Nov 16, 2012 @ 03:17:31

      Hi Boni —

      In my experience, this is a simple game of oneupmanship. The coyote is both playing and testing. Obviously he’s afraid to approach when your dog is out, but he seems to want to find out about your dog and he wants to let your dog know that he’s around. Your dog is actually responding in his own way, visually and with body language. We don’t know exactly what the communication is though.

      From what I have seen, this won’t go on for too long — the coyote will get bored and move on to a more interesting endeavor. You could try shooing or frightening the coyote off whenever it comes on your porch — if you are consistent he’ll learn that this is the treatment he will get whenever he crosses that line.

      In order for Wildlife Conflict Manager Mary Paglieri to more accurately analyze what is going on, she asks the following questions:

      1. How long have you been in the area and has this happened before?
      2. Have the coyotes always been close to your property – if so, what time of year, is there a pattern you’ve noticed?
      3. How close have other coyotes come to your house/property?
      4. When did this issue begin with the one coyote?
      5. Describe his/her call.
      6. What kind of dogs do you have?
      7. Are your dogs male or female?
      8. Are your dogs fixed?

      If you can answer these questions, Mary will be better able to analyze what is happening. Janet

      Reply

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