Covering Her Scat

looking back at the dogs

Coyote scat is normally deposited right on a path and in plain view to all-comers: it serves as a territorial marker, or it has been placed there or even “performed” visually in a dog’s presence as a message to that dog, the message being that the dog is not welcome. Our own use of the negative explicative, “s..t!”, exudes contempt or worthlessness, which is probably not far from what a coyote is messaging. :))

Today I had a partial view of a coyote defecating behind a tree after eyeing some dogs not far off who she might have had trouble with in the past. Then, surprisingly, she began to cover it up — bury it — by using her snout to push wood chips over it. She covered it thoroughly, pushing with her nose repeatedly. I waited until the coyote trotted away before going over to confirm what I had only partially seen.

the wood chips under which I found the scat (which I moved to the left)

Since there was nothing there to be seen, I had to review my “pooping” photo of her to locate the exact spot where the “mess” had been deposited and then hidden. I moved the wood chips with my boot, and, voilá, there it was: brand new scat. I gathered it up in a doggie-bag: it was still warm.

The question is, since it is normal for a coyote to leave these “messages” out in the open, why had she covered it up? Had she changed her mind about the dogs? How often do they do this? I’ve only seen this behavior a very few times. I had to laugh at the thought that this coyote might have felt it was the right thing to do to remove or cover her mess as she has seen all the dog-walkers do! This area has heavy dog-walking traffic. :))

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Elinor
    May 13, 2018 @ 01:17:48

    What a sweet girl!

    Reply

  2. Cindie White
    May 13, 2018 @ 19:07:17

    Love this.

    Reply

  3. Audrey Hight
    May 13, 2018 @ 21:27:48

    Maybe a mother coyote chooses to cover scat during her pups early weeks…to make her location less obvious?

    Reply

    • yipps:janetkessler
      May 13, 2018 @ 23:04:15

      Hi Audrey — Thank you for your suggestion. Brainstorming often comes up with likely answers. However, in this particular case, this particular coyote is a loner: she neither has a mate nor pups.

  4. Sarah Asleep
    May 15, 2018 @ 13:20:07

    I often track in the big wilderness above and around my house here in Flagstaff taking my heeler…is interesting over the years the amount of communication that goes on between he and the coyotes …almost all of it done with scats and urine…eventually they run into ech other…and when it happens ..not a problem just a bit of comfortable distance…the coyotes may even walk along side of us and disappear into the trees after awhile.. undoubtedly an immense amount of communication going on with smells and markers like poop and urine over days and months…we have a comp!ex trail system in our long distance of running in mountains and deserts…my healer has a very particular way of marking trails…and he knows..often long before it we will run into bears. .elk..deer or coyotes..how to avoid it find them…a few times I have gotten confused on isolated trail systems…and my dog always knows the way back on track again…canines are amazing creatures…I can see why they have always been with us humans…since the very beginning…they enhanced our senses and chances of survival…hunting.. Protection…and deep abiding friendships…dogs..coyotes \ wolves all have all these amazing traits…we are so lucky to have such around us…teachers and friends <3

    Reply

  5. Betty Naughton
    May 19, 2018 @ 16:57:54

    Hi Janet,
    Your observations are so interesting. While common behaviors are well known, it’s the exceptions and the individual variations that fill out the whole picture of behavior. I think you know more about urban coyote behavior than the researchers who study them. Thanks for your fascinating blog. I always recommend your blog when I talk about coyotes.

    Reply

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