Change Is Ongoing

I’ve learned that “change” is a constant within the lives of coyotes — it ebbs and flows overs the seasons, the years, and over a lifetime. Youngsters grow up and leave, loners acquire mates and maybe territories, oldsters lose territories when intruders take over . . . or oldsters just leave because they know they can’t defend the territory or their reproductive years are over or maybe the food supply has dwindled. Death of a loner or dispersing coyote may hardly be noticed by other coyotes (or us), whereas the death of a father, mother, or mate will have far-reaching and life-changing effects on numerous coyotes. Ownership of a territory, can be stable and long-lasting or short-lived and life-changing: I’ve been informed that a coyote female who was driven out of her long-time Presidio territory by an intruder female last year has been found killed by a car in Pacifica. :((  That intruder now claims the territory.

One of the loner coyotes I follow is going through a change. Any observable change in routine behavior is the first clue that something has or is taking place.

Her routine treks through the area started shortening in duration, occurring at irregular times, and then she skipped coming altogether for days at a time, at least during what had been her routine daylight hours. Looking back at my notes, I realize there were some clues which, of course, registered only now with hindsight.

For instance, I documented her angry reaction to what I bet was an intruder coyote in her territory on November 26th [see: Gaping].

A month earlier, it turns out, there was a purported sighting of two coyotes at the site of a “cat incident” nearby.  The possible arrival of another coyote is something I always keep in mind, but neither I, nor anyone I knew, had seen any other coyote, and continued not to. Had another coyote simply been “passing through”? Then again, a shy coyote might be around and hanging low. A new individual would indeed explain some of our coyote’s change in behavior, but there was no evidence beyond hearsay and suspicions.

A month after the gaping observations, on December 21st she seemed to be her usual self (see the first tier of photos below), except for a couple of brief episodes of raised hackles and angry kicking, as seen in the tier of photos below that): none of this behavior suggests anything out-of-the-ordinary occurring. But might the miniscule anger displays have been more telling than I had thought? I’m actually continuing to see these behaviors of hers.

Moseying along as normal and approaching cars to beg which is unfortunate but normal for her.

But occasionally moving along with hackles up or stopping to kick dirt angrily.

After fewer reported appearances for a while, she was again her old self in full-swing on January 2 — she played, hunted, slept, trekked about, and relaxed happily. Maybe what I had been noticing was simply a little hiccup in her behavior? Even though sightings of her had apparently plummeted, those who saw her continued to regard her visits as no different from what they had always been. But I felt that her changed schedule and bouts of anger had to be due to something.

I resorted to placing a trap camera on one of her routine routes at night: maybe the darker hours would reveal a clue? After several days she indeed appeared on the screen at 4 am in the morning. The infrared revealed that she had new facial scars which she hadn’t had before. And then, within less than a minute another coyote passed by on the same path — a larger male. Ahh! That was on January 10th.

Several days later, they again both appeared on the screen and that next morning, my friend Gary who lives closeby, reported that his dog, Ellie, woke him up at 1:30 am, to the ruckus of two coyotes screeching and carrying on loudly in the wee hours of the morning: this “pack howl” is something we don’t regularly hear in this territory.

But the next day, our coyote was out again — alone — during her normal daylight hours. That was on January 15th. Although she hung out and hunted as she normally had, she also spent a long time sleeping on her side by the edge of the road which I’ve only seen when she’s not feeling well, such as after an injury. To me she looked tired and older than she has.

Since then she continues to appear without the other coyote. A week ago, a couple of people reported that they saw a definite “change” in her demeanor and behavior as they watched her, saying she looked “larger” and “different” and “behaved ‘dazed’ and not so secure as normally”.  Could that possibly have been the other coyote? They had no photos to show me.

Today she wandered through her turf uneventfully, hunting a little and then walking purposefully away, down the middle of the street: there was again no indication that anything was amiss. We’ll have to wait and see what, if anything, develops.

This now is the time of the year when coyotes who don’t have mates might be looking for them. Might she be interested in pairing up, or is she, at just about five years of age now, a confirmed perennial loner? Might that other coyote be sticking around?  He seems to have been in the area, even if only off-and-on, from at least mid-October through mid-January. Is he a suitor, or a pursuer — friend or foe? She’s had both types of visitors in the past. There’s always a lot to find out. Please keep your eyes open!

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dina Athanassie
    Jan 26, 2020 @ 20:05:52

    The female you reference in the 1st paragraph that was killed by the car…was that the one that got into the territory fight with the coyote that had the tracking collar?


  2. Claire Perry
    Jan 26, 2020 @ 22:57:26

    Could she be suffering an unseen injury…internal ? Medical situation that we cannot pick up on? She’s so lovely. Thank you for this VERY special blog.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jan 26, 2020 @ 23:25:01

      Hi Claire — Thanks for your input. Perhaps, but we have to let nature take its course. Capture is absolutely terrorizing to these animals, and confinement is worse. And, after human intervention, then they are never the same again. So, unless they are truly immobile, they are left alone. Nature is a great healer, so that’s what we have to rely on. Let’s see.

  3. injuredsteticpatient
    Jan 29, 2020 @ 04:49:17

    Janet I started reading this after a search for German shepherds and coyotes sent me . Why do you not appear mention or encourage hazing? That is what our wildlife people in Nevada tell us. By the way, I don’t want to co exist with them, I want to be able to sit outside with my small dogs and enjoy the landscaping I recently upgraded before I started hearing of sightings all day long,


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Jan 29, 2020 @ 21:02:34

      There are various reasons I don’t support hazing/scaring generally. Most people don’t know how to do it and they do it at too great a distance. Also, many people, especially oldsters and children, are afraid to haze or should not. These people don’t feel comfortable “confronting” a coyote, which is what hazing is. If a coyote is coming towards you at a very close range, then you may have to resort to it, but really, all you need to do is keep your distance and move away from the coyote and keep moving away from it. This is what the coyote wants, so, hey, do it. It tells the coyote that he/she is not of interest to you, so they have no need to act defensively: you go your way and they go theirs. When scaring a coyote is done from too far away or ineffectively, it accomplishes nothing and just gets the coyote “used” to this “strange” human activity. They start ignoring it, and their ignoring of it (of your hazing) causes even more fear in humans. Hope this helps! Janet

  4. rallyp
    Feb 08, 2020 @ 16:09:46

    Hi Janet, we’ve run into you a few times in this coyote’s neighborhood (I have the ‘shy’ greyhound – white with brown patches). Looks like she’s paired up! I saw both of them walking by this morning. They definitely looked like they were more working ‘together’ than not.


  5. rallyp
    Feb 08, 2020 @ 23:33:20

    About 7:15am… a couple of blocks further south than we usually see you.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Feb 09, 2020 @ 03:04:15

      Thank you, RallyP! I came later than that. I hope they continue to keep a low profile — and that she doesn’t teach him her bad habits. I got some photos a couple of days ago: my estimation is that it’s a yearling. I’ll be posting soon. Thank you, thank you!!

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