Canine Chess, by Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet,

Fall continues on. And so does the canine chess on local ranches. It’s frustrating yet fascinating at same time. The ranches that don’t allow coyote hunts have some really interesting packs and dynamics. The spring pups are now foraging and moving about independent of parents. Sometimes you see them meeting other youngsters and you can tell by their excitement and inexperienced body moves they are still pups. But learning who is who and where is where. Some are too bold and vocal, in regards ranch dogs. But that will change in time.

On other ranches, the development of a new local hunt is underway. But incredibly, the local coyote are already responding with canine chess moves.

There are dogs of greyhound/staghound/deerhound/ wolfhound crosses who are being developed in packs to run down and dispatch coyote. These packs are young yet, but already proving they are good at this.

However, coyote response has been instant and shown new insights.

Coyote territorial integrity is a fluid thing. Normally highly rigid, territorial rights can vanish with certain situations.

For example, a dead deer, elk or cow will draw in many coyotes, no matter who holds the turf. The resident pair will contest, snarl, and sometimes fight and chase new arrivals. But they cannot hold entire groups off for long. All local coyote hone in on huge carcasses. Then feast over, they retreat to respective territory.

On the ranches where sighthounds are hunting, the coyote are developing strategies. They recognize a sighthound now, and even at a distance, hide. Or, they disperse and literally run for hills and woods. Open pastures and land is forfeited.

And finally, they run for the ranches where LGD live. They actually beeline for the Pyrenees/Anatolian and other livestock guard dogs. They pass the sheep and make for these huge rugged dogs. If the sighthounds cross into these lands in pursuit, the guard dogs engage them. No dog can stand before these guard dogs. And they normally are in groups of 2-5.

They scatter the sighthounds who now have to run for their life. And the coyote quickly disappears.

I don’t necessarily enjoy the dynamics of a pack of huge sighthounds closing in on a single coyote. But I and other locals are astounded by the ever changing ingenuity of these coyote. Ironically, the LGD don’t bother much with coyote. Because the coyote fear them and keep distance. In a sense, they submit to these massive powerful guards.

And apparently, they have no qualms about using LGD to ward off fast footed hunters.
Take care,
Lou🐾

End of Summer Ranch Observations, by Walkaboutlou

Here are some amazing end-of-the-summer observations I wanted to share. There’s so much information here, lots of detail, and incredible insight, beautifully woven together into a letter. Enjoy and learn! Janet

Hi Janet,

Lou here. Summer is ending and I’m piecing together local coyote snippets and news and ranch situations. All told, very consistent with local human behaviors.

On the ranches where no coyote are hunted, (and livestock are cattle) everything seems very “stable” to minimal. Small litters of 2-5. Predictable vocalizations. The usual subtle background living Coyotes seem to enjoy. The scat in these areas is full of plum and apricot seeds, deer hair, tons of blackberries, and overwhelmingly rodents.

Overall, of course each coyote is a fluid and distinctive individual, subject to rapid change and stages.

But if my summer scouting had a theme, it would be the contrast of Coyotes behavior even in similar regions.

For example, non hunted coyote in cattle ranches (4000 acres or more) seem to develop small, stable packs and territory. The food and ecosystem are abundant in large ranches. If the cattle can range, grass grows leaving vast regions of insects, and rodents. The pups learn early to forage on grasshoppers, mice. Very predictable quiet patterns. Often seen in distance in diurnal behaviors. By Fall, usually 2-3 pups remain. (accidents and natural predators curb litter survival) Pups seem to want to hang with pack a year or 2. Also, prey is scavenged until gone. A deer dying from being hit by car (running off to die in brush) or fawns harvested are eaten and visited until gone. Nothing is wasted.

The contrast again in ranches that hunt coyote hard is almost shocking. I have determined large, sheep operations are very challenging for Coyotes to coexist peacefully. If it’s large, LGD can only be in so many places. Also, large herds of sheep graze the land intensely. The cropped grass becomes a giant short lawn, unsuitable habitat for rodents, insects etc..if sheep are grazing long, you’ll notice hardly any sounds of crickets etc…and blackberry bushes are cut by ranchers because sheep get entangled. So the lack of forage, food and cover changes the setting. Add to this intense human hunting. Very intense. The coyote often become nocturnal. The closely cropped land and human hunters do not favor open, relaxed foraging. There are minimal rodents. So the coyote tend to hole up all day and hunt far and wide very hard at night with time as a factor. And pressure. Another complication-large herds of sheep especially isolated always have old, sick, hurt or dead. Or a scattering of lambs in all directions. The coyote scavenge dead sheep, or prey on lambs. Their pups are weaned on sheep. The smell becomes embedded as food-and a cycle is created.

Other reactions caused by human pressure-non hunted coyote females pick a mate around 2nd year. Hunted female coyote often pair bond as yearlings. So daughter’s breed earlier and with larger litters in answer to hunting pressure.

The social ramifications are evident. Many ranchers will hunt and leave a coyote as a magnet for surviving pack members to investigate, becoming targets themselves. Only this doesn’t work long. Hunted Coyotes learn to truly leave the dead behind. Some mothers will not check out a deceased pup or mate. This detachment of survival to me is amazing but sad too.

Also, such hard living Coyotes show other behaviors. They quickly, hurriedly hunt. And more readily raid any livestock or pets that opportunities give. They often do not return to a carcass after one feed. They’ve learned hunters, greyhounds or snares are sometimes waiting.

Pups scatter and really practice independence by Fall. The long puppyhood of stable packs is absent in hunted coyote.

All in all, stable coyote packs and hunted coyote are vastly different. And unfortunately, the unpredictability of hunted coyote makes them unwelcome even among stable packs. They really are different. And bring behaviors that can influence others.

I wish I could just make everyone leave coyote alone. They would still be amazing. But we would see and learn so much more without ignorance or outright war. Coyote are definetly mirrors of the local humans. If I want to know about people’s culture/lifestyle/knowledge or lack of, the local dogs and coyote will inform me.

Keep Studying and Coexisting.

Lou🐾


Hi Janet-I did forget to add one element to my summer coyote scouting.

This pic off internet sums it up well.

In areas where packs of coyote live more or less normally, you’ll find more or less the usual range in size and color of coyote. Especially in West. However, where coyote are hard hunted and scattered year round, you will find some that obviously have more then coyote genetics. This goes in hand with younger females (yearlings) breeding and also lower coyote numbers. If they are hit hard locally, surviving coyote have no hesitation breeding with dogs, especially free roaming ranch dogs (often kelpie/cattle dog/collie types).

This, in turn, can create more variety in local subspecies of coyote-and no doubt affects some. Larger size or bolder demeanor are often traits of 1st generation crosses. They tend to be absolved back into wild populations. But are another aspect of hard hunted coyote.
In laymans words-if you take away a coyote’s mate and think she’s beat, she’ll just recruit your dog as her next husband. And the pups won’t be Lassie. Either way, coyote will turn the dice of man’s efforts into a win.

Lou🐾

Coyote Watchdogs, By Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet,
I’ve shared with you how one ranch I visit has had a no hunting coyote policy for many years. This recently developed into a discovery on the ranch’s property.

The owner and patriarch of this ranch was born here. He knows literally every inch, tree, range and spot of this vast property. He knows the sounds and smells. Only very old age limits his patrols and work.

He has children and grandchildren who also help, as well as hired hands. So it’s well cared for.

I went for my monthly visit and patrol of some distant fencelines when he mentioned he hasn’t heard the coyotes for 2 weeks and felt something was wrong or going on along one area and border. He knows nature. He said this is “especially the noisy time of year for the pack, and if they aren’t hollerin, somethin’s up”.

He asked for me to be especially watchful in one area, and I’m glad he did. I approached the spot, and my dogs alerted in every way. They casted and scented, circled, growled, and looked all over.

Eventually, I found the cause. It was a poachers camp, with illegally killed deer, elk and bear meat and parts being processed. They camped literally just inside his ranch, hidden in gully that joins BLM land and forests.

There also was a “dump” where scraps were tossed. I discreetly took pics and hurried back to inform rancher and make calls to authorities. I must admit I was pretty enraged. And we had to almost hold the old rancher from literally saddling up with his favorite horse and guns.

What we determined was a group of poachers were there and by their actions disrupted the coyotes. They were moving and hunting at night, not moving like ranchers and workers. Also, the coyotes were scavenging the poachers dump but were silent due to being cautious of new humans, and or being stuffed unusually every day. And who knows, perhaps poachers tried to hunt them too. Either way, the suspicions of the rancher were raised because his normally vocal coyote neighbors suddenly went silent for a long time.

That is really tied to the land. He says he won’t feel better until he hears ‘his’ coyotes again.

(The camp was destroyed, game and snares confiscated and cameras utilized in tracking down poachers. They will soon be apprehended and charged.)

Another reason to let coyotes remain. They can tell us alot…if we listen.

Lou

An Update on Ranchers and Coyotes From Walkaboutlou

Look at what one individual person can accomplish, by talking to another individual, privately and confidentially, about what he has learned through dedicated and insightful direct-observation. Publicly they will spew what their peers and neighbors say. Privately, more are starting to realize that so called predator control is a myth. Yay, Lou! This is Fantastic!!

Sent: Tue, Oct 23, 2018 9:12 am

Good morning Janet,

I had a really good conversation with a farmer and convinced him to experiment with no hunting coyotes for a year minimal. Like most here, he hunts coyote hard. And continues to suffer from predation and financial loss. He is adding 2 more dogs to his flocks. When we spoke, he talked about how he has hunted coyote “hard core” with traps, snares and dogs for years and nothing has eased his loss. I explained with all due respect, his “hard core” tactics has helped create ” hard core” coyotes.

I also shared the article you sent me, and told him to speak to ranchers who have adopted no hunting strategies. I also told him if he allows a pair or 2 of coyote to establish territory, they will act as peripheral guards to his property to other nomadic, strange coyotes. I explained how coyote pairs/packs don’t normally allow nomads to stay long, and how local coyotes know the land, and rules intimately.

He also spoke of “outskirt” areas he’ll allow for coyote to encourage them to stay in certain spaces. I’m so very excited. My vision is large areas of settled, territorial coyotes living naturally among ranches, proving coexistence is a reality and ending the cycle of hard core tactics that creates big problems for both coyote and rancher.
Lou

[For background on Lou and what he does, please read Lou’s previous correspondence: “Observations of Coyote Behavior on Ranches by Walkaboutlou”.

Farming With Coyotes In Maine — Geri Vistein

My Coyote Yipps blog concentrates on urban coyotes: on coyotes and their behaviors which one might encounter in an urban environment. But coyotes also live in areas with ranches and farms where there is a need to protect livestock. The solution to most issues with coyotes, usually, is mass killings of these animals. It’s a never ending cycle, because, of course, new animals come to fill the niches vacated by those who have been killed, so the cycle of blood baths continues year after year.

But there are better solutions that are more effective, more humane and good for everyone, including coyotes, livestock and farmers and ranchers.

Geri Vistein has created a fantastic Facebook page, Farming with Coyotes in Maine. Geri, with the rest of us, is trying to increase awareness and promote management practices that don’t involve killing. Please visit her page, even if you are not in the ranching or farming business: https://www.facebook.com/FarmingwithCoyotesinMaine. Here are her three most recent posts!! Thank you Geri!!

1) A Child Shall Lead Them ~ posted April 2nd, is about a children's book written by Jonathan London.

1) A Child Shall Lead Them ~ posted April 2nd, is about a children’s book written by Jonathan London.

2) ONE OF OUR FARMERS SHARED WITH ME AN EXCELLENT CONVERSATION SHE HAD WITH HER RESIDENT COYOTES ~ posted March 28th, talks about an electric fence the farmers built.

2)  One of Our Farmers Shared With Me an Excellent Conversation She Had With Her Resident Coyotes ~ posted March 28th, talks about an electric fence the farmers built.

3) Coyotes Miss Nothing In Their World! ~ posted March 15th, is about using guardian animals to protect livestock.

3) Coyotes Miss Nothing In Their World! ~ posted March 15th, is about using guardian animals to protect livestock.