Long Legged

2014-05-23 at 08-09-42 (1)


Garbage Patrol

in a parking lot – rejected item – in the parking lot  
retained item – ten minutes of leaning up – peeing/marking

It was dark out, so the photos were blurry, and there was no feel for nighttime or darkness because the camera compensates for the lighting, making it look like daytime. So I experimented and came up with a lighting solution which really does give the viewer the right feeling I had when I took the photos — taken in the dark. Is this how things look in infrared? The tint seems to mask the graininess caused by low light.

Only about 2% of a coyote’s diet, as revealed by scat analysis, is composed of human produced items. Coyotes always prefer their more healthful, natural diet of rodents, berries and vegetation, but sometimes they indulge in “finds” for the change. Coyotes at times will visit picnic areas, trash cans and grocery parking lots where, if our trash is lying around, they will opportunistically pick things up for a special treat. I’ve seen them spit out stuff, so much of it is totally unpalatable to them. But some is enjoyed as you can see here.

On this particular evening, there was debris strewn in this parking lot, and the coyotes noted it as they trekked by. After briefly surveying the surroundings for safety, they did not hesitate to enter the area and went at it! Almost no one was around, and there were few cars — I guess the coyotes noted this, too, and that’s why they entered the parking lot. They wandered around, sniffing things on the ground — almost all of it was rejected and they’d turn their attention to the next piece of trash littering the ground. Finally I saw one of the coyotes pick up a plastic bag and run to the grassy edge of the lot with it. She spent a full ten minutes cleaning up whatever was in the bag. I guess that was enough for her because immediately left the lot after peeing on the spot where she had eaten. I have no idea what she had consumed, but  thought that it could have been the discarded portion of a burrito or sandwich.

leaving – walking down a street – about to cross street
something sumptuous found – keeping an eye on the moon? – rubbing her face
rubbing her back – crossing a street – body rub under some bushes

I followed her down several streets to a neighborhood residence where she went straight to a spot she must have known about, dug something up and nibbled on it. She stayed there eating whatever she found and looking around, and up, to make sure she was safe. She was there over ten minutes. My thought is that, since she went straight to that spot, she may have buried something there. When she finished she licked her snout, then went over to a patch of ground with grass only a few paces away and rubbed the sides of her face on it and then her chin. Hmmm — interesting! Then she got up and walked over to a bush which she used to rub her back against, back and forth: was she actually scratching her back, or was there an oder on the plant which she was trying to absorb? She then crossed the street where she found more shrubbery which she rubbed against and under, again, for a considerable period of time, as if she were wiping on, or wiping off, an odor.  Finally she trotted off, peed again, probably as a message, and was off and out of sight.

Eats Seeds and Pods from a Field of Wildflowers

2014-04-29 (1)

2014-04-29 (2)


Coyotes indeed are opportunistic eaters. Here a little fellow is eating seeds and pods from a field of wildflowers, and seemingly savoring his succulent epicurian find! Who would ever have known!

Coexistence in Niagara Falls, with Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada

That coexistence with coyotes is working and that more and more folks are embracing it and helping to make it work is now a growing trend! Working tirelessly on this trend is Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada, a preeminent leader in this effort.

Lesley is helping to get crucial and much needed information out to the public. Coyotes live in almost all urban, suburban and rural areas, and it’s extremely easy to get along with them: it takes just a little bit of education and some minor precautions to accomplish a very peaceful coexistence and to dispel unwarranted fears.

Here is an interview with Lesley Sampson of Coyote Watch Canada, and the Mayor of Niagara Falls. For more information about Lesley’s organization, visit her website: CoyoteWatchCanada.com. Thank you Les for your fantastic efforts!



Fallen Logs and Tree Stumps

Coyotes seem to like lifting themselves on tree stumps and walking along fallen logs: often for the better view, and often for the fun of it!


Coyotes Celebrate Coming Out Ahead: Intact and Uninjured, and Still In Charge of Their Territory

Here is a typical morning in an urban park where there are coyotes and where dogs run free. If you have a dog and know coyotes are out, or if you see a coyote, you need to leash up and move on. In this park, there is a particular team of dogs which chases and harasses these coyotes on an almost daily basis.

On this day, coyotes were out finishing their nighttime trekking. They picked one of their favorite knolls to hang out on. They often stay out to watch and keep an eye on the dogs which visit the park daily, but also they are there “to be seen” by these same dogs: they want these dogs to know that the territory is already claimed — their presence sends this message. It is a purposeful activity. They knew the route and the time that most dogs would walk by, and that time was coming up. They plopped themselves down high up on the incline a substantial distance from any trails and began grooming themselves.

Most dogs and their owners passed uneventfully, as usual: most folks in San Francisco are in awe of and love their urban coyotes in the parks: It makes the parks seem a little more “natural”, a little closer to the nature that humankind once knew, a little further removed from the city right next door. Both coyotes and dogs learn something about each other as they watch one another, and peace is maintained by the owners keeping their dogs away from them.

Unfortunately, there are antagonistic dogs who pursue, and owners who allow their dogs to pursue and harass coyotes. It is always the same dogs, and it is always the same owners who allow it, and it happens on a regular basis. It happened again today, as predictably as the dawn itself. Two dogs from the same family — therefore a “pack” working as a team together — came up the trail ahead of their owners and went searching for the coyotes, saw them and chased after them. The coyotes ran further up the steep incline which was difficult for the dogs. The coyotes stayed up high on the hill and watched. At one point, when the second dog appeared they came down a little, still keeping their safe distance away.

One of the dog owners, one who had no intention of ever leashing his dogs to control them, ran up the hill towards the coyotes and starting heaving rocks at them, snarling, “Darn coyotes, stop bothering my dogs!!”  The coyotes backed up a little preparing to flee, but the dog owner backed down the hill. Of course, it was the dogs and owner who were doing the harassing, not the other way around.

Eventually the recalcitrant dogs and disrespectful owners walked on. The coyotes watched them leave and then hung around to watch and just “be” for a short time, grooming themselves and probably communicating in ways we humans cannot understand: their distress, relief, joy, excitement, and fears, among other things, are communicated simply by the way they act — by their body language and facial expressions.

Then it was time to go. The coyotes ran towards each other, tails wagging, bodies bouncing and wiggling, and headed off. They were all intact, there were no injuries, the territory was still theirs. They seemed to celebrate all this as they left the area hugging next to each other as they went.


Poisoned Meat Balls Being Investigated Again — In The Sunset District

More poisoned meatballs found in the Sunset District on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo

More poisoned meatballs found in the Sunset District on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo

We are getting word that more poisoned meatballs have been spotted in San Francisco neighborhoods in dog walking areas, this time in the Sunset District at 24th Avenue and Ortega: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/More-suspected-poisoned-meatballs-in-S-F-5456894.php .

previously found meatballs looked like this

previously found meatballs looked like this

There have been two previous incidents of poisoned meatballs, both on Twin Peaks, the first at Crestline Drive and Burnett Avenue just before July 4th of last year, and another at 80 Crestline in San Francisco on about February 28th of this year. It seems to be happening again.

The poisoned meatballs injured at least three dogs, and killed a little 7-year old dachshund, Oscar last year.  Strychnine had been inserted into the meatballs — it’s a rat poison. It causes seizures and muscle spasms 10 to 20 minutes after ingestion.
The meatballs had all all been hidden in places where they could be sniffed out by pets, such as along curbs and in bushes.
Of course, coyotes are also at risk, as are birds of prey such as owls.
We need to protect all of these animals. We need to stop this activity. A $23,000 reward is being offered for any information leading to culprit of this sick behavior Any suspicious activity or tips about anyone trying to poison pets should call the SF Police Department’s anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444.

Touching The Wild, With Joe Hutto

I have found a videoed wildlife experience amazingly similar to my own! I can’t seem to embed this beautiful video, so the link will have to do: http://video.pba.org/video/2365224462/. What joy to hear someone who is exactly in the same position, psychologically and physically, as I am! As I watched this video, I had to write down many of the things Joe said — they are words he could have taken straight from my own mouth when I talk about the coyotes I watch.

The main difference between his Mule Deer Experience and my Coyote Experience is that I have never invited, or allowed, a coyote to get close to me. Several coyotes tried several times to approach me, on the same level that the mule deer approached Joe: it was a kind of a “reaching out” and acceptance after having seen me so regularly for many years, but I always walked away, and the coyotes respected that. I was also offered food a couple of times, but I never took it — I hope they didn’t think I was impolite!  

Here are the many things I penned down as I watched the video. Most of what Joe says reflects my own experience and thoughts, and a few things don’t!

  • I’ve been doing this every day for six years — can count the exceptions on one hand [For me, it’s been 8 years — and can count the exceptions on two hands!]
  • One chance encounter would lead to a study that has taken over 7 years of my life
  • What I study is hard to quantify — I’m going beyond science with my observation and connection
  • Joe met a buck (and I met a coyote) who had such a peculiar interest in me — my question to the wild critter was “WHO are you?
  • I made a gesture that must have spoken to him — we stared — and he clearly understood that I was not a threat
  • Day after day I would encounter that same fellow, and the rest of the herd would respond as if to say “Ahhh, it’s that guy”
  • That wild animal was able to see me as an individual and that I granted him his individuality
  • I was not seeing some “thing”, I was seeing some “one”
  • In that moment I realized what potential there was in these animals
  • And I was perfectly placed to study them (In San Francisco, I have many parks within a few minutes drive from my home)
  • My aim was to uncover their private lives
  • And I wanted to be the voice of this extraordinary animal who’s in trouble
  • I don’t just “study” them — I try to zero in enough to get to know the characters of the individual wild animals
  • Joe approached them to be part of them (in my case, I never approached them and didn’t want to be part of them. I wanted to be ignored, as part of the landscape which they could trust not to harm or interfere. My goal was to get to know them without being part of them)
  • One shouldn’t underestimate what is involved here — it does not happen overnight — it took going out there every day for 2 years before they displayed any trust of me
  • A pivotal moment was when they were’t running away  — they were letting me be there
  • Gazes become softer when you are accepted
  • None of the animals pays attention to me, which is the perfect perspective
  • They have distinct faces, personalities and relationships — relationships which are complex; the way each one walks and behaves is different
  • Some are bold & fearless, some are cautious and wary
  • A female was the leader — she would come near, but not close
  • They are wary and elusive of humans — after all, they have been game animals for humans
  • If another human appears, they run from fear, so my presence isn’t “habituating” them — these are still wild animals
  • I’ve had a chance to get to know an animal the way no one else can — to see their world through their eyes
  • They are profoundly intelligent — they have to live by their wits because they live side by side with what always has been their human enemies
  • Their intelligence can be identified by their curiosity
  • Only family members can groom each other
  • Blossom knows her name (this is not true of coyotes — I never use their names and would not ever try calling to them)
  • Deer migrate and spread out in winter. RagTag, Raggedy-Ann’s daughter, stayed that winter (coyotes don’t migrate)
  • Rag Tag led Joe to a secret place — to her fawns (Whereas I have stayed distant from all den areas always, but I have a friend who was led to pups this way once!)
  • Joe says they got to know his voice before they were born so they didn’t develop fear of him (Whereas I think it’s the mom’s comfortable reaction to him/me that youngsters picked up on)
  • There’s a grieving process
  • Raggedy Ann was supported by family members before dying
  • I feel privileged to have known them
  • RagTag gets sick and dies. Three days later her fawn, Molly, is still searching for her (Maeve looked for her mate a long time after he disappeared)
  • They cling to life the way we do. They fear death as we do.
  • Their reactions serve to warn you when you need to be vigilant
  • Joe had to face up to the relationship with humans — hunters (I’ve had to face up to the relationship with humans — their fears and hate)
  • These animals are nervous during hunting season (coyotes are especially nervous when chasing-and-exploring-dogs and dog packs are in their parks)
  • Babe was a friend — there was a relationship of sorts based on mutual knowledge of each other  [and, for me, respect for boundaries]
  • It’s hard to sever the tie


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