Scout Winter Solstice Catch-Up

I went to see Scout a few days ago for a year-end catch up session. I hadn’t been to see her in months. Although Scout’s story is unique to her, in a certain way, hers reflects the lives of coyotes generally, particularly urban coyotes.

Philosophy: Each coyote has her/his own story with many of the same elements, or variations of those elements. Coyotes are all dealing with both the joys and challenges of life and survival, each in a slightly different situation — not so different from the different situations we humans ourselves find ourselves in: we’re born into different circumstances and inherit different traits, and then make the most of what there is around us to live as well as we can. I’m pointing this out because I think that seeing these parallels helps us understand and relate to them more fully. Circumstances dictate so much of who we are: if we have one or two parents, how many siblings we have, where we fit in AND our relationships with those siblings, whether we have a house or are required to continually move. Whether our parents were able to provide for us: some of us begin with big inheritances (some coyotes inherit their territories) and some of us don’t, some of us have good and useful educations and some do not. Personality counts for a lot. Finding the right partner counts for a lot. Making a living is important for survival: coyotes hunt and protect their territories; we work at different things and pay for others to hunt or raise food for us and buy locks. The twain (humans and coyotes) love family life and indulge ourselves in play and games, though family life can reach a point of negativity at times with certain individuals. On and on: it’s really the same for coyotes as for humans. Neither of us chose to be here, but since we’re here, we’re making the best of it for ourselves. Some people tell me it’s not the same, I say they are wrong, and it’s only one’s anthropocentrism that’s preventing them from seeing this.

For those who haven’t followed her story: Scout is in what I would call a Fifth Iteration of her life. The first was growing up with her parents in her birth territory — she was a singleton pup who was left alone a lot. The second was her dispersal and life as a loner, consumed by her interest in human activity for 4 years — during this time she sought human attention and food, and she chased cars because folks were tossing her food from cars. In her third phase, she found a companion, but within months, her territory was taken from her by a more powerful female coyote and she was driven away, and in the process she lost her companion: this period of her life lasted six months. In her fourth phase she finally met up and formed a pair-bond with a lasting companion who she is still with: during this time she transitioned from a human-oriented coyote, to one who became absorbed in her own coyote family life. And now, her fifth phase, she’s absolutely absorbed in her own coyote family life along with a new, expanded territory, having moved away from the intense visibility she had experienced in her fourth phase. By putting “Scout” into the search box of my blog, you can access many of these stories.

The family. Scout’s immediate “nuclear” family (above) these days consists of her seven-and-a-half-year-old self, her mate Scooter, her one surviving pup out of three born this year, that’s Xiomar (an infant died early on and a young female pup was hit by a car at 6 months of age), and one yearling out of six born last year, Cyrano. They live for the most part in the newly expanded extension of their territory, but return and visit the area they used to use as their main hub where two of her yearlings remain in charge (see two photos below, one year and two years of age)). It’s almost as though these two yearlings have now become Scout’s “extended” family, and that she has ceded that part of her old domain to them. YET, she appears to remain in charge even here as a sort of super-alpha, visiting them regularly.

So, what I saw during my visit was really heartwarming. When I first spotted them, the family was joyfully playing chase and running through a field during their morning trekking session. The wind was overwhelming, so much so that I could hardly stand up, much less hold a camera still. That gale wind intoxicated the coyotes with energy and joy. I only got a few “catch-up” shots that day because of the wind, but I returned over the next few days. Below are some images I captured of the family in mid-December, 2022.

Play (above)

Upon my return over the next two days, I was able to capture Scout trekking with her family at dawn — I would find them singly, in pairs (any of two paired up), and as a whole family — that’s what I mostly saw them doing together though I’ve again caught her exuberantly playing chase and catch me with the rest of them: it’s always exhilarating to watch the family’s joyful interactions. Doing things together such as trekking together to mark their territories or hunt strengthens bonds, as does playtime — same as with humans.

Trekking over fields, paths, and yes, crossing streets (above)

As they trekked, there was grooming, relaxing, wallowing, stretching, avoiding ravens, hunting (above)

Issues. By the way, if you think these coyotes live cushy lives, that’s not totally so: ravens, dogs, cars, people, feeding, rat poison, not finding food, coyote intruders: these are stressors and hazards that are ever present in an urban coyote’s life.

For Scout, as for other coyote families, there were and will always be dog issues during the pupping season unless folks keep their dogs leashed and as far away as possible from all coyotes and their denning areas; dog issues have subsided substantially since the pupping season. Folks have learned to leash and walk away from them — possibly because of the signs I had put out during the pupping season, but also just spreading the word by mouth on a daily basis. And there are still human issues: people continue to feed and trying to entice coyotes towards their cars with food. But she’s much more wary of approaching cars than she used to be, and I’ve not seen her actually chase any cars in a long time. These are issues that exist at almost all of our parks, not just Scout’s. Please know that coyotes don’t need to be fed, and that you are simply creating issues for them and everyone else by doing so.

Dogs chasing, ignoring, or protecting themselves from coyotes! Dad marks to let them know what he thinks of them. Last photo is a recent intruder coyote in Scout’s territory : another headache for her and her family.

And then there are intruder coyotes, and I saw one only a few weeks ago in Scout’s territory: such coyotes are always a problem for the resident family because they just could be thinking of challenging the current family for the area. It happened before to Scout once before, bigtime! This being said, Scout has expanded her territorial boundary tremendously over the past year, pushing another family closer to the edge. I tend to believe that her mate, Scooter, was born into that pushed-away family, but we’ll have to wait for the long awaited DNA results to confirm.

So that pretty much sums up Scout’s current situation. Above is a rare photo I caught of her at her old haunt several months ago — she still appears to keep her toe in the doorway there, even though she’s ensconced in the newer area of her expanded territory.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. MelindaH
    Dec 23, 2022 @ 02:23:33

    Magical stories , even the rough parts, and pictures from Scout’s life. Thank you so much for sharing. I was entranced reading this.


  2. Morbeau
    Dec 24, 2022 @ 17:01:49

    “Some people tell me it’s not the same, I say they are wrong, and it’s only one’s anthropocentrism that’s preventing them from seeing this.”

    How true. Some days I think the challenge of anthropocentrism is is just convincing people that it exists. Thank you for sharing your stories and observations. All the best for 2023!


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