The Coyote Hunt in Hancock, NY has been CANCELLED Due to Your Help!

UPDATE: But it’s not over yet. Whitney Point Coon hunters (which isn’t far from Hancock) have picked up the dates that were planned on. The killing of innocent animals will be carried on by a hunting group. Sorry about the news.

Gail updated us with a link to this “Hancock FD Coyote Hunt Cancellation Statement” which I’ve posted here with a screenshot. Gail monitored hundreds of posts and saw no threats of violence, as the statement purports. Please take note of some of the angry comments posted by those supporting the contest, threatening to continue to kill as many coyotes as possible. It’s a mindset which Gail notes speaks for itself. Thank you everyone for signing the petition! We all made change happen with 20,606 supporters!

More information: Coyote Carnage: The Gruesome Truth About Wildlife Killing Contests, by Ted Williams, Yale School of Forestry, May 22, 2018.

Please Help Stop this Barbaric and Reckless Slaughter

Five states have finally eliminated these primitive, inhumane contests. We need to stop them in the rest of the country. Please continue to add your signatures to these petitions.

Press the image to sign the petition

After signing the petition I encourage you to reach out to the mayor of Hancock, NY to ask her to cancel the kill contest. Here is her contact info. If we are civil and respectful, and strong in number, we have a better chance.

Mayor Carolann McGrath
Phone: 607.637.8172

My email to her can be seen here.

Send a message to New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo by pressing here.

More information: Coyote Carnage: The Gruesome Truth About Wildlife Killing Contests, by Ted Williams, Yale School of Forestry, May 22, 2018.

‘Tis The Season Of Sharing – Let’s Share The Earth With Coyotes, by Katherine Howard

This write-up by Kathy Howard — perfectly timed and appropriately named for the season — appears in the December issue of the Castro Courrier. Kathy has taken information about coyote family life from my recent presentation at the Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA and filtered it into her own words in a fun and informative way. Enjoy! Happy Holidays to everyone! [Digital version in the CastroCourier. It will appear in the WestSideObserver soon].

Press the above image to continue reading (the linked paper can be enlarged by pressing the “+” button).

Coyote Anger: Cat-like Growls or Screams

When coyotes communicate, there’s little room for misinterpretation. You already saw this in my last posting about “coyote insistence” through body language. If they are insistent towards humans and our dogs, you can be sure they are just as insistent towards each other. This short video clip, above, shows this. It was taken after a family howl session in response to a siren. The howling and yiping in response to the siren were sing-songy and upbeat as you can hear here:

The family howling then segues into the evening rendezvous, where the entire family excitedly meets and greets for the evening trekk and other family activities. But Mom is not so keen on having all that high-energy wiggly and excited youngster activity around her. Her vocalizations at this point, as seen in the above video, are of the “raspy” type I discuss in my posting on Coyote Voicings. These are anger, annoyed, and warning vocalizations directed at family members. She’s telling the rambunctious youngsters that she wants space and calm: “get away from me”. She also displays her frustration by complaining with a wide vocalized gape to Dad who happens to be standing beside her. These are sounds you may not have heard from a coyote: they are very cat-like — the kind of sounds a cat would make before swiping at something with its claws.

Remember that coyotes also “pounce” for prey in a very cat-like manner, they toy with their prey as cats do, they splay their toes as cats do, and they “warn” with that very familiar “Halloween Cat” stance which includes a hairpin arched back and often a gape and hiss. I have been asked if coyotes are cats or dogs: I can see why such a question might be asked. Of course, coyotes are neither: they are simply themselves. However, they can reproduce with dogs and have many dog-like qualities, but they also have several very cat-like behaviors which dogs don’t have.

Insistence in Coyotes

Dear Janet,

My name is Lynn and I live in Berkeley.  About one year ago my friend Billee told me about something that happened to her son Tod, who’s about 20, when he was walking home late one night from a cafe where he played guitar.  He was on a tiny narrow street of houses en route to his house which is near that mountain that has the cross on top of it.  He noticed some– what he thought were dogs– slipping around him and then two coyotes faced him in the road.  He’s an outdoors guy, he’s always been an independent kid, and their family is a very kindly anti-materialist family with ancient pets who live forever and are cherished the whole time– just so you know.  Well to Tod these two scared him so much– he could not pass them, and I believe him.  It went on a long time and he ended up yelling for help and a woman called to her husband to open the door when she looked out from an upstairs window.  He opened the door and Tod ran inside their house.

He could not get used to the feeling that these animals really felt such ill will toward him.  But that was clear to him.

When he got home,  nobody could believe in this experience, especially his brother who picked him up.  But I believe it must have been true because why should he lie?  He just isn’t like that.  I thought maybe someone was feeding them there, and they thought Tod had come to steal their food.

I’m so glad to be able to ask you about this.  I read about coyotes in the book, “The Secret Lives of Dogs”.  I think that’s the title.  It was very poignant, about the coyotes. It said, “they know people hate them.”  If that’s true I hope they don’t know it.

Sincerely, Lynn

Hi Lynn —

Thanks for contacting me about this story! It’s an interesting one, and I’ll give you my thoughts about it.

I think there are various things that might be coming into play here. First, late night and shadows can play tricks on human imaginations — especially if the human is tired or might have had a little bit of alcohol or such? But also, depending on the time of year, a parent coyote could have shown a little more bravado or insistence than normal if a youngster coyote was nearby that the parent wanted to protect. And I’ve seen males become protective of their females in the same manner at certain times of the year. Another possibility is that these coyotes could have been protecting a source of food that they just found — say some garbage.

If a coyote is insistent, which is what Tod was saying, it can be VERY frightening. This actually happened to me once years ago. It was the coyote’s insistence that was so scary because it left me feeling helpless: none of my actions caused the coyote to move, and resorting to screaming for help did not work either (no one heard me), but walking away, with my dog in tow, did help. This is what the coyote wanted.

There is also something known as “demand behavior”: (see “Demand Behavior”). You speculated that Tod might have looked like someone else who had been feeding them. I suppose this also could have been driving those coyotes’ behaviors.

It’s important for everyone to know that anyone can save themselves a lot of anxiety and fear by always backing off and moving away from a coyote the minute you see one, before it ever even comes to what happened to Tod. Tod’s kind of encounter doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s best for us all to remember to take the step that’s easiest, most comfortable, and most effective for us and the coyotes: move away and then keep moving away. That’s really what they want.

I don’t believe the coyotes were after Tod due to ill-will towards him or humans in general. IF coyotes harbor any ill-will towards humans, as far as I know it would be in areas where humans caused that ill-will in the first place. I’m in contact with ranchers who have confirmed my own observations: where coyotes are respected and left alone, coexistence works well. But where coyotes are persecuted/killed, there’s a never ending battle revolving around a coyote’s need for survival. Read some of the postings on my blog by Walkaboutlou. So yes, I’m sure they know and feel the hate and antipathy towards them where people indeed have persecuted and hated them. Interestingly, I myself have felt the continued animosity of several walkers who I’ve had to confront about their unleashed dogs chasing coyotes: it’s palpable.

Hope this helps? Let me know if you want to discuss more!!


The minute you see a coyote, even if it is in the distance, walk away from it rather than getting closer and closer.

The Watering Hole

Well, it’s not exactly a watering hole, but I’ve named it that because a number of animals pass through here, and there are a number of houses up the hill which I know have dripping spigots which may be the attraction. But in addition, there’s an accumulation of bones in the area: beef bones and chicken bones, so there may be more up the hill where these come from.

Noises from screeching hawks and squawking ravens in this spot gave me the idea to set out a field camera. I seldom use these cameras, but I had a couple lying around from last Spring, so I set one up.  Indeed, soon afterwards the camera caught images of these raptors, so I left it out for several weeks, and even caught one coyote passing through! The only other animals I caught were dogs: they sniffed around, urinated, and took bones — and then the camera was stolen.

I was reluctant to try again, but decided to put out the other camera only at night when it was less likely to be taken. I put it out only sometimes, and sometimes I captured critters. I would have liked to have caught some owls, which, by leaving the camera out at night I was hoping for — both Great Horned AND Barn Owls are seen regularly close by. But this did not happen. What I did catch were opossums, skunks, raccoons and more coyotes. The spot where I placed the camera forms a narrow passage, a kind of bottle-neck, which animals appear to traipse through rather quickly and uneventfully, but a number of times they’ve lingered long enough to display some behaviors, which is why I’m posting this. The best is at the end, I think, where a feisty little skunk first gets spooked by a twig it steps on, and then not only fights with another skunk, but also charges at a coyote! 

Both dogs and coyotes have enjoyed “marking” the area repeatedly with their urine: they’re all trumping each other. The coyote chewing on the bone was kind of fun — right there in front of the camera: just like any dog might do. And there’s a short clip of a coyote “burying” something — maybe a bone? — by brushing the ground with its snout.

I’ve put these short clips together and called them “The Watering Hole” euphemistically, because I didn’t want to call it “the bottleneck” or “the bone dump.”  “Watering hole” is usually where the elephants and lions fill up on water in Africa, but it’s also what a bar or pub is called, where individuals might pass through during the wee hours of the night for a nightcap of some sort, like here!

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