Training Coyotes and Dogs, by Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet. 

We have started patrols on quail ranch and it’s been very productive so far. This is a new venture and we’re very hopeful .

A retired biologist purchased an enormous sheep ranch and transformed it to a quail ranch of sorts and Bird Dog Center. 

Sheep out. Quail in. Both native and introduced quail call this home. It wasn’t easy. Raccoon, possums, and an enormous feral cat population as well as rats, hindered quail nesting in some sections.

Then coyote came in.

Attracted to now natural grasslands, several coyote packs established themselves.

And quail number exploded.

The coyote keep racoon, possum and rat numbers very low. The feral cats are gone. And the coyote don’t seem to hardly interact with quail much. 

With quail numbers steady, now Bird Dogs are being trained here, as well as limited hunts will be allowed.

Some coyote challenge dogs. And this isnt what clients want or expect. 

Back to drawing board.

The biologist knew, and with several discussions with locals confirmed, if you hunt territorial local coyote they will immediately be replaced by nomadic coyote and your issues will likely increase. These coyote keep out other coyote. And quail benefit from their hunting. They are wanted…but can’t also harass bird dogs.

It’s tenuous. And needs reinforcing both sides. But coyote and dogs can live and work and share ranges. This pack lives and works among coyote weekly. And both sides are fine.

This is where we come in. 

This pack of mostly older dogs have patrolled vast properties many years. We engage and teach coyote..back up. Don’t come in. Yes..its tough love, but also natural. Wolves, coyote and Range Dogs all coexist out here. And all usually dislike each other. What I can do here is teach coyote to use the land to their advantage. And timing.

The hills and woods and treelines of this 4,000 acre ranch..can be for coyote. The open fields, the dogs flushing quail in Fall, are to be avoided. 

We travel throughout the property sticking to trails and fields. When coyote approach, the pack is more then ready to counter. But we remain together. And the coyote inevitably (and vocally) retire to woods and hills. They are learning not to rush dogs, and clients are instructed what areas the bird dogs are allowed to train and hunt in..and what is risky. 

Can coyote and bird dogs coexist? Yes. With instructions and non lethal (but sometimes rough) behavioural influences on both sides. Coyote absolutely can learn to stick to hills and woods. And bird dogs can stick to birds. Our pack introduces the idea to coyote that dog packs move through but go and DONT EVEN COME IN TO US. DONT ENGAGE THESE GUYS. They have thousands of acres to choose from.

We just encourage wise choices. And they almost inevitably do.

We will be busy this next few weeks. But its working.

Take care, 

Lou

Intensely Agitated

Listen to the intensity of the distress of this 9-year-old mother coyote whose pups are four months old. Recording courtesy of Dave Samas

A week ago I was hearing reports of a coyote screaming distressingly in one of our parks, which went on for 20 minutes or longer. Even folks who don’t know coyote calls well were able to decipher that something was terribly wrong. It happened again several days later within the same time frame. I hadn’t been there when these vocalizations occurred, but the reports came from people whose judgement about the coyotes I have come to trust.

Then today, I was sent a recording of the same type of vocalization, and indeed they are unsettling sounds: it was obvious that the coyote was extremely upset. These vocalizations, I was told, had gone on for about five minutes before my friend Dave turned on his recorder and caught the last 7 minutes of it which you can hear in the above video. But he said that it was the first five minutes which were the most agitated. Dave could hear the sounds loud and clear from right in back of his home. I hurried over to the park to see if I could locate the individual coyote who I imagined the worst about. I searched but I didn’t find anything except a homeless camp and wondered if that might have been involved in the coyote screams.

The trail I was on was a winding one with a wooded area off to one side and grasses and scrub on the other side. Suddenly there appeared on that path, not far in front of me, a large gray poodle. He was worked-up and panting, with his tongue hanging out, running back and forth frantically and excitedly in hot-pursuit mode, keeping his eyes directed in the forested area. This wasn’t just a dog chasing a coyote for fun, it was a dog who was intent on getting the coyote. The chase had been going on for a while, as per when the vocalizations were first heard, and the way the dog was panting. And it had been over a substantial area of the park. Once before I had seen this dog behavior, with this exact same type of dog, a standard poodle, who knocked me off the path in his focused pursuit of a coyote: poodles are powerful animals and this one was easily 80 pounds.

Then the dog-owner and a companion with her dog appeared on the path. I immediately called out to them to please leash their dogs, that it was a denning area and their dogs needed to be stopped from chasing the coyotes, that they needed to keep their dogs leashed in this area, after all, it was a leash-law park. To their credit, they immediately leashed up, which doesn’t always happen in such situations. They seemed absolutely unaware and oblivious to what was going on. There were two walkers and two dogs, but it was the poodle who was in “go-get-it” mode. Since they complied without incident, I thanked them and moved on, and so did they with their now leashed dogs.

As I left the park, the coyote’s screaming began again. I looked up and spotted the gray poodle again. The two dogs and owners were also exiting the park. The dogs were still leashed. The owner wondered why on earth the coyote was howling. I let her know that a dog who pursues a coyote may find itself followed and screamed at by the coyote for some distance, and even in the future without an initiating chase: coyotes remember everything, every dog, every incident. I hurried back into the park to see who the coyote was: it was Chert, the 9-year-old mother whose family I’ve been documenting over the last dozen years. She was defending her denning area with screams that were far more intense than I usually hear — maybe an intensity to match the dog’s vehemence in pursuing her?

Please, everyone, don’t allow your dog to chase coyotes. It may be entertaining and gobs of fun for your dog, but its hugely upsetting for the coyotes whose very life and family become threatened. These chases often result in leg injures which take a long time to heal, besides creating unnecessary stress. Also, it should be known that it’s illegal to harass wildlife, which is exactly what was going on here. And if you’ve ever wondered why coyotes don’t like dogs, now you know — even if it wasn’t your own dog that did the chasing.

And now, all the howling I had been hearing about over the last few days made sense. I realized that on those previous days, at this exact same time, it had to have been the exact same situation: this same dog after this mother coyote.

Chert is a mother again this year. She has three four-month old pups who are beginning to explore beyond their den area. A mother coyote can’t always control their wanderings — at this time of year they’ll be out during the twilight hours. Her screaming was probably more than just being upset at a vehemently energetic dog going after her: it was probably also a warning to her pups to take cover. The vocalizations in this recording are particularly piercing, I think: I felt her anxiety and distress, and the dire situation she felt she was in: this is what I’d like you to listen for and hear in the video.

Below is a photo of the dog whose owner just didn’t get it — didn’t even know her dog was chasing a coyote, didn’t even know why the coyote was barking at them as they left the park — she was absolutely oblivious to what was going on and not too interested. I’ll go out and monitor for the next few days.

Two Instances of Crippled Pups This Year

I’m posting videos from two families today. Both families lost one of their pups early on — we don’t know the cause, but we do know that young pup mortality rate is high. In addition, each of these families has a youngster whose walking is compromised, leaving them physically challenged and disadvantaged.

The mobility problem, as seen by a wildlife vet who looked at one of the videos, seems not to lie in the legs, but in the lower back. I saw both of these youngsters early on in their lives, either in videos from field cameras or first-hand, and neither began life with this disability. It’s highly possible there was a lower spinal back injury, or there may be a developmental problem, or a disease that caused this, such as distemper. With distemper, which is a disease currently going around in our wildlife community, tremors, twitching, imbalance, and limb weakness all may occur. Signs may progress to death or may become non-progressive and permanent. Recovery is also possible [Google]. There is no cure.

Both the vet and I decided that it would be best to leave these animals to live their lives naturally. Coyotes are hardy, hopefully they will overcome their handicaps.

This is Tiny Tim. This video was taken at 2.5 months of age. He has improved tremendously and I’ll post that improvement soon.

I named the first little fella Tiny Tim, taken from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The second I’ve named/labeled Adams after Jane Adams, John Adams’ daughter, who was left crippled after contracting a fever as a young child. Please know that childhood diseases and injuries can lead to life-long disabilities in all species.

The important thing to note here is that these compromised youngsters are not being rejected by their families: they are right in there, interacting and participating to the fullest. It’s heartwarming to see this. It will be interesting to follow these two, if we are able to, to see how their lives progress.

If you see a coyote with walking difficulty — maybe not even difficulty, but definitely walking differently — please video or photograph and send to me: we can do updates occasionally! The second video in this posting in fact is not mine, but sent to me by Nick Jago who did a great job of videoing this family. Thank you, Nick! :)

This is the second youngster — taken when the pup is four-months-old — with apparently the same affliction. Notice how she interacts absolutely normally with her family members: the compromised animal, though disadvantaged, is living a normal life.

Flopsie, by Pete Dardis

Eydie! No!  

Dang it.

Eydie! Come!

Like that’s gonna work.

Eydie had seen the local coyote, Flopsie, and was chasing her across the hillside.

Flopsie is a male coyote, born in the neighborhood two years ago. I first saw Flopsie’s mom about seven years ago, with my then much younger dog chasing behind her.  I have learned so much about coyotes in the years since then.  I stay alert and leash up when I see a coyote around.  (Thankfully, our park is off-leash).  Eydie still loves to chase them, but at ten years old she has no chance of catching one now.  

But today I never saw Flopsie until the chase was already well under way.  He had run across the hill and then down, arcing back across the hill behind some temporary fencing.  Eydie, following behind, had cut the corner and was now stuck behind the fencing, while Flopsie, in complete safety, arched his back and bared his teeth menacingly, signaling his claim to this part of the hill.

Eydie gave up and came back to me, and I clipped her leash on.  The fun was over.  But not for Flopsie.  After a quick nibble at the low spot in the fence, he hopped over it and followed us up the trail at a disrespectful distance, until I bent down as if picking up a rock.  He turned and backed off immediately.  We went on our merry way.

Eydie and Flopsie on opposite sides of the fence, then Flopsie jumps the fence, whiffs up the information where Eydie was standing, and then follows at a disrespectful distance until intimidated to leave. They then each went on their separate ways.

The Indomitable Loudmouth, by Walkaboutlou

Hello Janet!

August is here and we do our ranch patrols and land surveys prior to sunrise. Such predawn movements are necessary in this hot smoky time of year.

A new personality has come to an old coyote family turf and taken over.

A wolf pack dispersed the former coyote group and the surviving daughter Kinky started new life in new places. She is thriving with her 2 pups and mate elsewhere. 

This male is now here…and letting all know, man or beast. He’s about 3 or 4, extremely vocal, erratic and tenacious. His voice has a mule like bray to it. He has been dubbed Loudmouth. 

The Indomitable Loudmouth

All evidence is that he came from east of us, which is highly pressured lands. The ranches usually hunt coyote year round. Also, the wilderness areas east are territories of wolf packs. 

So . . . when you see a coyote come from such areas and he’s relatively older, you are seeing the stereotypical extreme canid. The herky jerky zig zagging crazy elusive then alternately bold coyote. It’s not a judgement. But rather, a reflection of human cultures and land pressures.

Loudmouth is as tough as they come and twice as wild. He likely has dealt with decoy dogs, staghound packs, and wolves. He knows LGD and likely respects them…but could make farmers pay for their persecution if they aren’t dogged up. 

Snares, traps, hunters, he has survived and eluded them all.

Likely he is more then able to dominate other male coyote. The two yearling females following him…dont seem daughters. They clearly are a pack. 

Listening to Loudmouth and Twisted Sisters

They have moved in. And Loudmouth is ensuring all know he intends to stay. 

He was quite upset with our patrol and fence check. 

When I returned to my blind for coffee break, Loudmouth erupted from it. He had doubled back, and pooped in my chair.

Welcome to the Ranges Mr. Loudmouth.

Take care, 

Lou

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