Maybe the Pot Of Gold at the end of the Rainbow is a Coyote?!

One of our famous long-standing myths is that there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow, guarded by a tricky leprechaun. This photo shows that the pot of gold is actually a coyote — or maybe it shows that the leprechaun is really a coyote?! Read more about rainbows in the link below — you are bound to be surprised by some of the information.

In my own observations, I would say that rainbows and coyotes have the same effect on most people: people feel uplifted, happy and even thrilled to see them. Many people have told me that when they see a coyote on their early morning or evening run or walk, they see it as a sign of good-luck. Throughout history, as seen in folk-lore and ancient myths, coyotes have always *stood* for something — and they continue doing so today.

I think of them as reflections — symbols — of ourselves and of our American spirit, as I wrote in WildCare Magazine in February, 2011. They are native only to America where they exhibit the same rugged characteristics in which we ourselves take pride: they are intelligent, curious, playful, protective, adventurous, innovative — even cunning at times, independent, self-reliant, self-sufficient, have family values, a frontier spirit and strong individuality. They also exhibit some “softer” characteristics such as affection, care, happiness, patience, timidity, dejection. By looking more at WHO they are, you may be in for a thrilling surprise — a pot of gold, in the form of a cornucopia of character traits, at the end of the rainbow!

http://science.howstuffworks.com/nature/climate-weather/atmospheric/10-rainbow-myths.htm/printable

Lauren Strohacker’s New “Coyote Anthropophony”

I’m excited to let everyone know about this artist, Lauren Strohacker, whose art examines the ever-growing conflict between humans and animals as our manufactured environments (physical, political, and economical) expand into natural habitats. I love this art, and I love Lauren’s message. Lauren now has a Creative Residency in Scottsdale, Arizona, titled Coyote Anthropophony. This is an interdisciplinary project that utilizes sound, photography, projection, and education to better understand historic and contemporary relationships between humans and coyotes.

“Coyote Anthropophony, visually and sonically explores coyote adaptation to life alongside humans in suburban and city environments. Collaborating with art and technology collective, urbanSTEW, I capture images of local urban coyotes with infrared trail cameras and record and manipulate city sounds (the anthropophony) to mimic coyote vocalizations, conceptually blurring our perceptions of human and animal domain.”, says Lauren.

In conjunction with this installation, Lauren will be giving a workshop which will focus on coyote education and art making. Visitors will learn more about urban coyotes through a screening of Citizen Coyote​, an educational/informational presentation aimed at youth and classrooms, and everyone else. Following the 30 minute film, Strohacker will lead an all-ages workshop where she’ll teach visitors of all ages how to transform local maps of Metro Phoenix cities into origami coyotes — see the little fellow to the left!! If you are in the area, here are the details: Coyote Anthropophony Workshop with Ecological Artist, Lauren Strohacker, Saturday April 29th, 2017, 11am – 2pm, 7034 E Indian School Rd, Scottsdale, Arizona 85251.


Here is Lauren’s apropos artists statement. Thank you, Lauren, for your amazing vision and for spreading it via your beautiful art and dedicated workshops!

Animals disappear: some literally, in the wake of human expansion, some metaphorically, becoming ubiquitous and fading into the urban landscape. 

My suburban upbringing was filled with mediated representations of the animal: literature, television, and corporate branding. While the feeling of attachment to wildlife was authentic, the wildlife itself was artificial. Even an encounter with a living, breathing animal is bound by unseen regulation. Populations are controlled, predators are decimated, and survivors are displaced to the edge of human comfortability. Boundary lines are drawn and animals are expected to obey, and subversion of this obedience is punishable by death. 

These realizations underpin my exploration as an artist. Often collaborating with environmental organizations, I compose interdisciplinary interventions that utilize human networks in order to reimagine and reintroduce wildlife systems destabilized by our manufactured environments. Both real and imaginary interactions with animals influence human perceptions of cohabitation vs. conflict, a dichotomy that ultimately determines the uncertain fate of wildlife in the Anthropocene.

Precept or Percept? by Charles Wood

In her post on messaging, Janet quoted some material and shared her thoughts about it. I wanted to also comment on the following: “One individual suggested that he thought it might not be a good idea to give-in to the coyote’s demands by leaving — he thought this might be teaching the coyote the wrong *lesson* — that it might be best to *push your way through*. He has had good results with scaring the coyote off, but the coyote continues to habitually follow him and his dogs.”

Pat-1

How do we interpret coyote behavior? From precept or from percept and instinct? From an idea? Or from what it looks like and what it feels like? Pat 1 isn’t being hospitable. It’s rude. The message isn’t so clear with the two photos of my Dad coyote of years gone by.

Dad 1 is charging. Dad 2 is the stance Dad took after he halted his charge. Note that there is a chain link fence separating us that doesn’t show in the two pictures.

What should I have done about Dad charging and then halting, both done as a way for Dad to message his displeasure at my dog and my presence? Should I have acted from a precept like “…it might not be a good idea to give-in to the coyote’s demands by leaving….”, or, should I have acted, well, like what then? I did wonder at the time if by my behavior I was encouraging something that later might not be good for Dad or for another person. At the time I thought, well, at least I was holding my ground. But there’s more to it.

Dad-1

When Dad halted his charge he did stand as pictured. After that encounter, and after a couple previous years of similar encounters, Dad’s behavior toward me changed. He was much less confrontational after that day. I can describe from memory how Dad’s behavior toward Holtz and me changed.

As Janet pointed out, much of coyote messaging behavior is patterned, ritualistic. We know that coyotes are territorial. And we know that at times they are more territorial than at other times. That day Dad was highly territorial and charged my dog Holtz and me because he had pups around. However when the pups were older, my coyotes weren’t to be seen. They were there, but with older youngsters Mom and Dad would not bother with us as much. However, I did notice a change in Dad’s manner toward us when younger pups were around for Dad to protect. Dad would still message us. Yet he would do so without his former vigor. For example, at times when he saw us he would saunter over in our direction, kick up a little dirt, and then wander away. Or at times he would not message us at all. When Mom coyote was around, she would message and Dad would also, but with less vigor. That’s how his behavior changed. The question remains as to why his behavior changed. As to the question of why his behavior changed, at issue is whether or not Dad from reflection, from thought, made a decision to change his behavior toward Holtz and me. I acknowledge that I don’t have an objective basis from which to answer the question: “Did Dad’s behavior change because he thought it over and decided to change his behavior, or did his behavior change for another reason, or for no reason at all?” The answer to that question is presently beyond the reach of science and I want to be clear that the following speculations about Dad’s mind are my subjective assessments of why Dad’s behavior changed.

Dad-2

It is a guess for me to say that the Dad 2 picture shows why Dad changed. My guess is that in the moments before, during, and after the Dad 2 picture was taken, Dad formed a judgment about a couple years of his messaging experiences with Holtz and me. The basis for my guess is ‘vibes’ I felt that day as I photographed Dad coyote. So the following is a story I tell myself based on vibes. My account has value to my poetic self as a story, but only has value to my scientific self as evidence of the workings of one aging human male’s own subjectivity.

What I felt when Dad was halted and looking at us, looking into the camera, was that Dad was just flummoxed by how Holtz and I behaved. Here he had peed, pooped, scraped dirt, and charged. None of that worked for him. Holtz and I just kept standing there. I kept taking pictures. And you can see from the Dad 1 picture how earnest Dad was and you can imagine how uneasy that charging behavior of his could make me feel. In the Dad 2 picture, I felt sorry for him, he seemed to recognize that whatever he did, it just didn’t do any good. I could sense the gears grinding in his head as he contemplated the situation. I could tell the gears were grinding slowly. I felt bad for putting him in a mental situation where he was shown to be ‘slow’.

From Dad’s point of view, we hadn’t moved, reacted, or responded to his messaging behavior. I regard it as fair to say that Dad engages in messaging behavior to effect change. I regard it as fair to say that Dad could tell he wasn’t effecting change by his behavior toward Holtz and me. I regard it as speculative to wonder if Dad recognized Holtz and me as dysfunctional compared to all the other animals in his community. Why dysfunctional, speculatively? Because I, as a human animal, didn’t know how to act like all the other animals Dad had experiences with. I regard it as fair to say that almost any other animal must have given Dad respect in such situations and left the area. Spring is the time in nature where we all gorge. The babies of other species are abundant, easy to catch, chew, and swallow. That’s why we get escorted away by coyotes. They want to prevent their offspring from being eaten. But as to Dad, I had often wondered why he was so slow to realize we weren’t a threat. Well, he was slow because after all, Dad was a coyote. I wondered during those years if he would ever go off script, if he was capable of that. As it turned out, he did go off script.  It took a couple years for him to go off the script of his ritual behaviors. Again, if I consider that Dad thought it all over, it’s just my interpretation of why he changed. If someone said Dad, in the moment pictured, tarried from a bout of bad gas, then I couldn’t with evidence refute it.

If Dad thought, well, what did he think? My story is that Dad thought Holtz and me were mentally about the slowest animals he had every come across. We just didn’t get it, we didn’t know how to read plain animal-ese. And we seemed incapable of learning simple animal-ese. And so he began to disregard us as hopelessly irrelevant although he could not convince his wife, Mom, of that fact. She would visibly be upset with him when she saw that he had relented. She would get real irritated by him over that. Mom and Dad were married alright, yes they were. Kids coming, kids all around and Dad becoming unreliable? Not in her world. She just took up the slack and had an evil eye for him over that.

Again, if I sound like I’m anthropomorphizing, then you are probably looking at my story from precepts of science. The beauty of science is that science will change its ‘mind’ when provided with a supportable basis for a particular change.

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

Pupping Season: What Behaviors to Expect If You Have A Dog, and What You Can Do

Reposted from two years ago by popular demand!

Coyote Yipps

Coyote pupping season is in full swing, which is obvious from coyote behaviors I’m now observing in our parks. Since mating occurred through mid-February and, now that it is mid-March, dens are being selected and dug. In preparation for the big event, all coyotes, especially males, are vigilantly contributing their share to the process: they are safeguarding their family territories to help make them safe for pups. Where does this come from?

We all need to become aware of coyote behaviors so that we can know how to prevent issues. Coyotes don’t like canine intruders in their territories: they even don’t allow non-family coyotes in. All canines, be they wolves, dogs, foxes or coyotes, don’t really like each other and all will exclude the others, as well as members of their same species who are non-family members, from their territories. This is instinctive behavior. We can’t really change their instincts for survival, but we can…

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Gallery

Messaging: Challenging Displays Are Warnings

[*Note corrected title from mailing]

This is a clear *message*. It’s so easy to abide by it to avoid escalation. Simply tighten your leash and walk away.

If the message is ignored, as seen below, a coyote could up the ante by attempting to nip the haunches. In this case, the coyote pinched the dog’s ankle which made the dog wince and move on. The owner could easily have prevented this by leashing and moving away from the coyote.

In one of our parks, folks have been worried recently about the sudden change in behavior of their neighborhood coyote from fairly mellow and chilled to snarly faced with bared teeth, high arched back, tail tucked under and sometimes walking on tip-toes.  I call it a halloween cat pose. Please know that this is an challenging display that may not need to lead to an attack if the dog and owner understand it. This is *messaging* in the only way this coyote knows how.

This stance is taken towards dogs that come too close, leashed or not — it’s a classic posture. Please keep dogs as far away as possible from the coyote so that dogs and coyote may feel safe. It’s pupping season, and whether or not any coyote is having pups, during this time of year it will display more defensiveness for its self and its space. If the coyote ever comes in your dog’s direction, simply leash and walk away. There’s no point in challenging it simply because it wants to defend itself and defend the only space it has.

Here is what has been experienced in one of our parks:  1) One individual suggested that he thought it might not be a good idea to give-in to the coyote’s demands by leaving — he thought this might be teaching the coyote the wrong *lesson* — that it might be best to *push your way through*. He has had good results with scaring the coyote off, but the coyote continues to habitually follow him and his dogs. 2) Someone else said that the scaring tactic didn’t do a thing, and that the coyote followed several hundred feet, even though there was no dog involved here. 3) In another instance, a dog-walker saw the coyote on the path, stopped and waited for it to run away, but it wouldn’t. The result was a standoff — each waiting for the other to leave. The coyote arched its back, ears back, tail down, and showing teeth. Continuing on their walk caused the coyote run away, but one time it came back and followed a little.

I’d like to comment on these experiences. We’re learning that coyotes, over time, just get used to “hazing” and eventually stop responding — then, when you really need a tool to get the coyote away from your dog, you won’t have one. The better tactic is avoidance.

It’s probably not a good idea to *push your way through* or walk in the coyote’s direction. By doing so, you aren’t *teaching* the coyote anything except that your dog is a threat. *Backing down and leaving* teaches the coyote that your dog isn’t a threat. A *standoff* is a challenge. Over time, the coyote could even become more reactive — upping the ante to get his message across. You wouldn’t have a standoff with a bear or even a skunk! Instead, be wary of the animal and keep away from it. Best to turn around and leave, and then come back a few minutes later. The coyote could be protecting something of value, be it a food source or maybe even a den.

As a rule, coyotes don’t go up to humans, but they can become food-conditioned to do so. So if a coyote follows you, there’s a possibility that the coyote may be hoping for food which he/she has received from walkers in the past. All of us need to be ambassadors for the coyotes, spreading the word to not feed and not engage in any way with this coyote. MOST following is out of simple curiosity, or because they want to find out why they have become an object of interest to you. If they feel threatened by your dog, the coyote may follow to assure itself that you and dog are leaving: the coyote is just being cautiously vigilant and protective of its space. This is a manifestation of their *wariness*. Sometimes a close chance-encounter can’t be avoided, in which case both you and the coyote may become startled. Here again, the coyote may follow you.

My advice is to just keep walking away. Don’t engage, and walk away. Avoidance is always the best policy: Avoid, Avoid. Any type of foot-stamping or scaring should really be done only as a last resort, and always as you are walking away. You don’t need to *teach* the coyote anything — just walk (don’t run) away from it. Walking away shows you are not interested in him — and this is what the coyote wants to know. By the way, turning around and facing the coyote — gazing at it — as you walk off is often enough to prevent it from advancing further. Feeding and friendly engagement of any kind is what will teach a coyote the wrong lessons — they are hard to unteach. Avoidance, as I’ve seen over many years of observing urban coyote interactions with dogs and people, is your most effective option, resulting in a win-win-win solution for everyone: dogs, people, coyotes.

Heavy Rains in San Francisco Produce More Mosquitos

This long howling session involving coyotes communicating after a siren sounds, has been clipped throughout so as to show the coyote dealing with pesky mosquitoes by snapping at them, scratching, shaking them off, and even yawning (I deal with some things this way, too!) The deeper barking coming from the bushes is the male. He doesn’t emerge into view until the howling and the video are over. A third, distant coyote, unrelated to these two, enters the conversation once towards the end — it can be heard at about 1:16.

Los Angeles Sirens, by Charles Wood

Unisex Pat

My March 22, 2017 post showed three coyotes, a male protector and two other coyotes. Better pictures of those other two coyotes are Mary and Unisex Pat. I’ve decided that it is Mary, Mom and Dad’s daughter. Mary Macbeth I should call her given Rufous and her history with Mom and Dad, now deceased. At best they kicked Mom and Dad out of the territory about four years ago.

But Mary is clearly showing. After all, Unisex Pat is one of Mom and Dad’s grandchildren and so I can’t hold a grudge against Mary. Rufous, if he be there, has proved himself. He does make a good living on a fine piece of property. And he helps with the kids; isn’t out and about, god knows where, instead of being home like he is supposed to be.

Mary

So I have made my peace with Mary. I can’t wait to see more grandchildren!

The LA Siren video was taken to get the howling sound. I wasn’t sure if the coyotes were in the brush until the siren sounded. That day I never did see them. The siren video has three separate videos combined. The first segment is when the siren was far off. There was a lot of howling at that. Oddly, when the emergency vehicle went right by on the road, the coyotes went silent. After the emergency vehicle passed, the coyotes made some more howls. But that last set of howls sounded ineffectual. Why is that?

Maybe it’s that the howling was supposed to keep that big bad whatever away. When it came close they got very still and quiet. I guess they thought that their magic howl didn’t work this time. The thing came closer anyway. So when it left it was sort like a feeble “And don’t come back, ah, whatever.” Am I anthropomorphizing?

No. I’m not. I’m making reasonable guesses from what I know about myself and from what I know about coyotes. Coyotes and humans know what it is to be scared and brave at the same time. And to get still when things look like they could get real bad. There is a symmetry to it all.

Ah, you might say. Poor man. Hasn’t he read Descartes:  “I think, therefore I am.” Animals don’t think, you might say.

I say rubbish. I say  “I am, therefore I think.” I say no organism could ever live and has never lived without a faculty for thought. And so the argument goes. I may be right, you may be right; and we just differ on that principle.

Or maybe, just maybe there is a logic to it all and we might as yet find an idea of “self” for all living things that is clear and intelligible. Maybe then we would get some respect for being investigators of the heart, rooting around for truth by perceiving what situations seem like and how it all feels.

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

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