Garbage Patrol

in a parking lot – rejected item – in the parking lot  
retained item – ten minutes of leaning up – peeing/marking
 

It was dark out, so the photos were blurry, and there was no feel for nighttime or darkness because the camera compensates for the lighting, making it look like daytime. So I experimented and came up with a lighting solution which really does give the viewer the right feeling I had when I took the photos — taken in the dark. Is this how things look in infrared? The tint seems to mask the graininess caused by low light.

Only about 2% of a coyote’s diet, as revealed by scat analysis, is composed of human produced items. Coyotes always prefer their more healthful, natural diet of rodents, berries and vegetation, but sometimes they indulge in “finds” for the change. Coyotes at times will visit picnic areas, trash cans and grocery parking lots where, if our trash is lying around, they will opportunistically pick things up for a special treat. I’ve seen them spit out stuff, so much of it is totally unpalatable to them. But some is enjoyed as you can see here.

On this particular evening, there was debris strewn in this parking lot, and the coyotes noted it as they trekked by. After briefly surveying the surroundings for safety, they did not hesitate to enter the area and went at it! Almost no one was around, and there were few cars — I guess the coyotes noted this, too, and that’s why they entered the parking lot. They wandered around, sniffing things on the ground — almost all of it was rejected and they’d turn their attention to the next piece of trash littering the ground. Finally I saw one of the coyotes pick up a plastic bag and run to the grassy edge of the lot with it. She spent a full ten minutes cleaning up whatever was in the bag. I guess that was enough for her because immediately left the lot after peeing on the spot where she had eaten. I have no idea what she had consumed, but  thought that it could have been the discarded portion of a burrito or sandwich.

leaving – walking down a street – about to cross street
something sumptuous found – keeping an eye on the moon? – rubbing her face
rubbing her back – crossing a street – body rub under some bushes
 

I followed her down several streets to a neighborhood residence where she went straight to a spot she must have known about, dug something up and nibbled on it. She stayed there eating whatever she found and looking around, and up, to make sure she was safe. She was there over ten minutes. My thought is that, since she went straight to that spot, she may have buried something there. When she finished she licked her snout, then went over to a patch of ground with grass only a few paces away and rubbed the sides of her face on it and then her chin. Hmmm — interesting! Then she got up and walked over to a bush which she used to rub her back against, back and forth: was she actually scratching her back, or was there an oder on the plant which she was trying to absorb? She then crossed the street where she found more shrubbery which she rubbed against and under, again, for a considerable period of time, as if she were wiping on, or wiping off, an odor.  Finally she trotted off, peed again, probably as a message, and was off and out of sight.

Up Against A Wall and Walloped

A father and a daughter coyote had been lolling on a hillside when the daughter’s attention became riveted on something in the distance. She stared at it for a minute and then darted off, at a full run. Dad was surprised at her suddenly bolting away, but he followed not too far behind. And I, too, ran, but at a relatively slow follow.

When I caught up with them, they were sitting next to a house and their attention was focused on something I could not see. One of the coyotes then ran forwards and I could see flailing tails and lowered bodies, and rolling around. There was a third coyote there. It was because of this third coyote that the others had made their mad dash over to this area.

I soon recognized the third coyote as a male sibling to the female, son to the father — a family member! I had not seen him in months. This is a coyote whom I had characterized as timid and careful. He preferred “watching” his siblings roughhouse rather than entering into rough play. The last time I saw him, he had hurried off quickly — he avoided being seen by people and pets. I imagined that he had either moved into the bushes for good, where he would live his life hidden from view, or dispersed.

Could this be a joyful greeting of the kind I have seen so often? As I got closer, the sad truth revealed itself: teeth were bared. I realized that this male youngster had probably been driven off, banned, from the territory at some point. Today there was a confrontation because of the male youngster’s return to “forbidden” territory. This would explain his absence.

The fray moved to the open lawn at first but soon the yearling male coyote backed up against the wall of a house — and he remained there, possibly for protection. At first both father and daughter coyote charged him. But then the female youngster went off in the distance, focusing her attention elsewhere, but intermittently updating herself on the battle between father and son, with a glance in that direction.

11-month old male coyote, up against a wall

11-month old male coyote, up against a wall

Dad coyote would stalk, then strike. The strike consisted of punching, nipping, and knocking the youngster over with a shove from Dad’s hindquarters, maybe in an attempt to sit on him, or throw him on his back. The son yelped and fought back in self-defense, all the while standing his ground and not succumbing to lying on his back submissively. I wondered why he didn’t just run off. Did he know he might be chased, and, out in the open, there would be no protection at all? Or was he himself making a “comeback” claim?

The assaults were not aimed to maim, they’re intended as a firm messaging device: “Leave! You are not welcome here anymore!” The father’s strikes were short but intense. After a few seconds of contact, Dad would withdraw about 30 feet and watch, either lying down or standing, probably giving the youngster “the evil eye” — communicating through facial expressions and body language. After a few minutes, there would be another round of this activity.

At one point a dog and walker appeared. I suggested to the owner that he leash his dog and keep moving. The man waited there for a few minutes. At that point the young female jumped IN FRONT of the dog and walker and lured/led them away from the battling coyotes! Fascinating!  The young female returned to her spot in the near distance after the dog and owner were far enough away.

Eventually Dad decided to walk away from the “interloper” coyote, but not before giving several backward glances over his shoulder at the young male — shooting him the “evil eye” again, and peeing a dislike message. He then slowly walked off, with the female close behind, stopping every now and then to look back at the young male who remained with his back up against the wall. When they were out of sight, the young male lay down for a minute, but only for a minute, and then he, himself, darted off quickly in the other direction, and into the bushes.

I caught up with the Dad and young female as they, too headed into bushes. I suppose that the young female is being guarded and protected, and that the territorial domain will be hers. I’m wondering if she has alpha characteristics which might have driven the mother away. Just a thought.

Interestingly, I’ve seen moms beat up female youngsters in this same manner, and now a dad doing the same to a male youngster. It’s as if each parent is jealous of it’s unique position and wants to keep it that way. It’s same-sex youngsters who present the biggest threat to any adult. Is it dispersal time, or some other rule which is being imposed? Pupping season is beginning, which means territories have to be secure for any pups which might be born this year.

Rufous and Mary’s Place, by Charles Wood

For several years I visited a nearby field to watch two wonderful coyote parents whom I named Mom and Dad. In November 2012 I found that their daughter Mary had paired with Rufous and displaced Mom and Dad from the field. Mary was born about April 2011 and has lived in the field her entire life. (I  don’t know Rufous’ origins or history other than that he is the type to weasel his way into a territory and turn a nice young coyote female against her own parents.)

In the video I included scenes of goings on in the field other than those of coyotes. Rabbits are plentiful, I’ve never seen so many there. The first scene shows two in contention about something. The second scene shows rabbit contentiousness isn’t uncommon and that rabbits take dust baths (the rabbit in the rear flops down to roll in the dust.) Next is Mary investigating and running away, though I could not determine what she ran from.

On a subsequent day both Rufous and Mary went toward the den area. Note the rabbits that jump around in the brush easily getting clear of her. Also, Mary seems to have scratched a marking onto her neck, and at that time appeared to still be nursing (June 7.) Following is a scene of a dancing rabbit. Next, a red-tailed hawk appears to have caught a rabbit. That hawk is a real work horse and is there every day. Over about two months I’ve only seen Rufous and Mary four times.

The final three scenes are from June 28, 2013 and begin with a rabbit once again getting clear of the oncoming coyotes. Rufous goes ahead while Mary hangs back, both having spotted my two dogs and me. Rufous veers camera left and then appears to break into an unsuccessful chase of rabbit. The last scene show Rufous catching up to Mary near the entrance to their den area. Mary doesn’t appear to be nursing any longer, my first having noticed her lactating May 1. If you watch closely you’ll see another rabbit bounding away from Rufous and Mary, neither appearing to have expected to encounter yet another running rabbit. Both appear to look around for where the rabbit might have come from rather than to look for where the rabbit may have gone. As I said, the hawk is a real work horse, but he is an army of one against the rabbits and Rufous and Mary don’t seem to be taking up much slack. Not pictured are two skunks that seem to go wherever they want around Rufous and Mary’s place. Mom and Dad ran a tighter ship, that’s for sure.

Becoming serious now: once Rufous and Mary went into the den area I didn’t hear the sounds of a coyote family reunion. However one clue, perhaps, that there were pups there is that Rufous and Mary were more interested in getting into the den area than in challenging my dogs and me. That was perhaps the first time that they didn’t message us to leave. Once they were concealed in the den area, they didn’t later come back out as in the past to check on my dogs and me, hopefully because they were being secretive and were busy with the pups.

Another observation: when Rufous and Mary were coming straight at my dogs and me, Mary held back and Rufous went first, providing cover for her. When they traveled with their flank towards us, Mary went first where Rufous was placed to cover her rear and flank where he could easily cut off an approach. In neither case were they bunched up. Instead they were positioned for maneuver.

As to the rabbits: in past years there weren’t as many in the field while at the same time more coyotes were living in the field, as many as seven in some years. Rufous and Mary remind me of my dogs where, upon having a rabbit run off, look around for where it came from after a short and unsuccessful chase. In the video it is interesting for me to see that to a coyote as to the camera, a rabbit is just a flashing tail that’s easy to lose sight of, an effective defense for the rabbit.

Following Mom, by Charles Wood

Pup1

Both photographs are of my LA county pup following Mom around. Both were alarmed when they saw my companions, another human and two good sized dogs, and me. Mom headed down the road and within a minute her puppy followed. The road offered us a clear view of them, but for only parts of the way because brush along the road at times concealed them from view. Soon both coyotes were hidden. Yet Mom could have immediately hid with her puppy in the brush. Why didn’t she? I think she had decided it was to her advantage to use the road strategically.

When Mom took to the road, I didn’t know if she intended to approach or avoid. I think she knew that by taking to the road, I wouldn’t know where she would end up or whether she intended to come towards me or intended to go away. All I would really know was that she was on the move.

PupMom

After dusk, Mom came out from hiding to sit and stare at us, her puppy still in the brush. A third coyote, Dad, came in and out of view near them. Together, Mom and Dad formed a stone wall against an intrusion. Then, apparently instantly oblivious to danger, the puppy decided to come out and join Mom. Mom got up and the puppy followed her back into the brush. The puppy is too young to know that Mom doesn’t want to play when actively guarding the family.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

Dad Relaxed, Sort of – by Charles Wood

Dad Where

Here in LA county Dad relaxed in late Tuesday’s sun. I took a few pictures of the road and of Dad. My sense of how things along the road should look, allowed me, with the naked eye, to spot him from 1100 feet away. I was about half way to him on the river bank.

I couldn’t tell which coyote it was. Its only with a photograph that I can identify a coyote by magnifying it in my camera’s display. Even from that distance, the pictures were of a Dad looking right at the camera.

Dad Relaxed

I wasn’t able to spot Dad until I was within 1100 feet. Dad would have spotted me a lot farther away than that. There’s nothing to obstruct his view of me, my dog, and my tripod coming over the bridge and down the river bank. Still, Tuesday, he wasn’t particularly concerned with us. Other days, he just gets mad.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

Puppy Watch – No Sightings, by Charles Wood

Here in Los Angeles County my coyotes see me before I see them. Once I noticed Mom in the distance observing me. Once I looked up to see a yearling watching me. Dad also kept the pressure on me, seeing me first about every other day. I received their attention despite trying a new tactic.

Typically I walk east to get to watching places. Saturday I instead went north along the eastern boundary of my coyotes’ field. Along the east is a fenced off structure that has only a couple places where I can see into their field. Unfortunately, they too can see me.

I hoped they wouldn’t see me. As I happily walked, Holtz was ahead of me. Then he turned to come back. Immediately he started adversarially stalking towards something to my rear. Holtz’s head was slung low, protruding with his tough guy gaze fixed on the other side of the fence. I grabbed him and turned around. I expected to see a dog with a walker. I saw nothing. It must have been a coyote, no doubt one of mine that had been tailing us. Compared to a few months ago, my coyotes are visible and active.

Coyotes with puppies are more active for a couple of reasons. First, they are alert for interlopers. Coyotes hide and protect their young and are vigilant for all possible dangers. Also, they hunt more for having more mouths to feed. Fortunately for coyotes, nature provides them with more to hunt during spring.

This time of year, my coyotes’ rabbits also produce offspring. Controlling rabbit populations is an important coyote job. Young rabbits are easier to catch than adult rabbits, and I imagine that in good years there are lots of them for adult and child coyote alike. The richness of vegetation from good rains provides more cover for rabbit nests. Rabbit nests would be fairly easy for a foraging a coyote puppy to find all on its own. Yet the coyotes and other predators don’t find all the nests. One reason they don’t is that adult rabbits make themselves conspicuous this time of year, acting as fast running decoys that lead predators away from their nests. Dense ground cover with a bumper rabbit crop in their field is an excellent incentive for my coyotes to remain in their field.

A balance between predators and rabbits protects the field itself from a being overgrazed by rabbits. Fifteen years ago, when I would only see foxes, rabbits were a problem down river at Leisure World which suffered from a rabbit invasion. I suspect that since the coming of coyotes, that invasion silently went away along with the foxes.

Taking Control of the Den, by Charles Wood

Here in LA County I’m starting my fourth year watching a coyote family fortunate enough to live in a square mile of undeveloped land in the middle of suburbia. Pictured together are the two I call Mom and Dad, moving across their home range. Pictured alone is a young female coyote I don’t believe I’ve seen before. Surely their child, she may be from their 2011 litter.

Mom & Dad

I haven’t seen Mom and Dad for about six months. At that time, Dad looked like an old beat up coyote with an illness. Rumors of Dad’s death have been greatly exaggerated!

From the riverbank outside their field Tuesday, I watched Mom as she watched me while sitting outside their den area. NewGal showed up next and Mom didn’t rise to greet her, meaning they had been together in that area for a bit. I started to walk away. Out of the corner of my eye I saw two coyotes joyfully greeting and knew a third had shown up after an absence. Through my camera lens I could see it was Mom and Dad. The couple then moved across their field towards where I had been standing on the riverbank. I lost sight of them in the brush. They were agitated so I continued to walk away.

New Gal

A jogger came from their direction and told me that a coyote was out on the riverbank. Surprisingly, he said that the coyote was going away from me. Probably it was another coyote in that field that irked Mom and Dad, a coyote they didn’t want around and worked together to chase off. Dad’s hackles were up for trouble and Mom was his backup.

Mom and Dad have returned to their den area and have taken firm control. Last year they successfully kept me from seeing their puppies. This year I need to work smarter.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

First Contact In Pupping Season, by Charles Wood

Here in south Los Angeles county I haven’t seen any of my coyote pack members since the end of December. I still haven’t, but on Saturday one did let me know it was there.

I’ve been in their field lately about once every two weeks and none until Saturday objected. I stood near the entrance to their den area, pictured, with my leashed dog Holtz. I fiddled with somewhat moist coyote scat. For a moment Holtz stared intently into the bushes. I looked too and didn’t see anything. Getting cautious, deciding the scat was neither new nor old, we moved along and walked away from the entrance area. Holtz was compliant by my side instead of, as is usual, tugging for the lead. Suddenly a hidden coyote flitted in dried leaves to our side. Holtz did not look towards the noise. I looked hoping to see a coyote. It rustled dried leaves again, moving back and forth along our direction of travel. I cautioned it with a yell. It did not show itself and was about twenty feet away.

By its behavior, the coyote sent us much information. It’s scat told me the area was claimed. Its noises revealed a place particularly important to the coyote at this time, pupping season. I walk exactly there at other times of the year without coyote contact. Further, the coyote, by rustling leaves along our path of travel, marked a line in the brush past which we were not to come. By its speed and energy it told us it was agile and strong.

My coyotes have spoken. It is now time for me to watch them from points outside their field.

Interestingly, when the coyote rustled leaves, Holtz didn’t look. Holtz must have already known that it was a coyote making the noise. They probably had eye contact when Holtz had earlier stared into the bushes. Holtz had already been told to leave and the coyote added rustled leaves to emphasize where Holtz should never think to go.

Finally, I don’t know why the coyote didn’t come out and show itself. My coyotes have done so in the past, Mom in exactly this place about two years ago after pupping. I’ve annoyed all my coyotes enough to where they aren’t shy about coming out to scrape dirt or bark. Perhaps it was a coyote that didn’t know us.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for more photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

Intruder!!

These photos above show the wary interloper coyote carefully and quickly passing through.

Coyotes are territorial, and they guard and protect these territories. Seldom have I seen intruders — the coyotes I repeatedly see in different parks are resident coyotes who are very at home in their territories. Today I saw an intruder — but I wasn’t able to figure this out until I had gone home afterwards to blow up my photos — coyotes look quite different from each other once you get to know them, but when the lighting is bad and the distance is great, sometimes this isn’t immediately apparent. At the time I wondered why one of the coyotes was so on edge and tense, keeping a huge distance, tail down and wary, looking around and fixating into the distance, and finally hurrying off as if to avoid something. There were no dogs around, but the coyote was uneasy anyway. I followed it over the crest of a hill.

Here I caught up with the coyote, or so I thought, but its energy had changed drastically. Rather than being wary and skittish, the coyote was energized and exuberant, excited and enthusiastic, rushing this way and that, sniffing all over the place and obviously onto a scent. Within minutes I saw a buddy of this coyote’s in this same mode — these two are friends who spend most of their time together. These coyotes were absorbed and focused in a frantic sort of way.  They were following the scent of something and often losing, jumping and running about, and then picking it up again. They covered quite a distance which baffled me, because any rodent or raccoon or even a domestic cat would not have been able to cover the distances that these coyotes were sniffing out and rushing through. It was not until I got home and examined my photos that I realized that the first coyote was an intruder, an outsider, and the other two coyotes were intent on finding it and flushing it out.

Once before I had seen a stranger coyote pass quickly through an established territory. When one of the resident coyotes appeared in the vicinity some time afterwards, it caught the scent and followed in this same manner. I’m wondering what might have happened if the resident coyotes had caught up with the interloper? As it was, I don’t think they ever did.

These photos below show  two coyotes excited and enthusiastic, on the trail of the first.

Coyote Returns, by Charlotte Hildebrand

You can hear them at night; a pack of 50 or 100, or maybe just 20, down in the canyon yipping and yowling for a good long while after a siren goes off. I’ve never seen a pack, but I have seen a solitary coyote hanging out by the turn in the road, my headlights illuminating its opaque, glass-colored eyes, when I come home from work. I’ve wondered if this isn’t the same lone coyote that visits next door in the middle of the day, looking for a handout from my neighbor Thea.

Thea started feeding a coyote two years ago, when it was a toddler. I told her, pleaded with her, that it was wrong to feed a wild animal and, much to my surprise, she agreed; she promised to stop but then she didn’t. I felt helpless to do anything about it: my neighbor is old and lonely. The coyote was her friend.

I hadn’t seen the coyote for three or four months; I’d missed its absence, for no matter what you say, having a wild animal nearby can send shivers down your spine. It’s thrilling, yet….it’s still wrong. I was sitting down to write, when, out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash, it was the coyote back in Thea’s yard!

Coyote biding his time until I leave

I heard Thea calling to the coyote, “Come, come. Come, come,” in her German accent, as she placed food on the ground. I grabbed my video camera and ran outside. You can see in the video, the coyote looking to the left (Thea), then looking straight ahead (me) and the dilemma he finds himself in. He doesn’t know what to do: here’s a witness to his forsaking his wild coyote ways, and I imagine, he’s a little bit embarrassed. Later, he plops down in the grass in Thea’s lower yard, smelling the flowers (a true Ferdinand, the coyote), passing a peaceable afternoon.

After 45 minutes of taking the breezes and catching bugs, he goes back to dine at Thea’s table.

This posting was reprinted with Charlotte’s permission from her blog, The Rat’s Nest. Please visit her site to see and enjoy more of her fabulous writing!

Fall In LA County, by Charles Wood

Mister

In Los Angeles it had been weeks since I had seen any of the coyote family that makes its home in a field by a concrete river nearby.  Sunday I saw an eighteen month old male who I’m guessing was Mister, though it is hard to be sure given his winter coat.  I haven’t seen his mom in six weeks and it has been eight weeks since I last saw his dad.  From late spring through summer I see my coyote pack on almost any day.  In fall and winter, if not for their droppings, you would think they were not there at all.

Mister's Message

Where do they go and how far away?  Mister left a message for me today that is also a clue as to their whereabouts:  they go where the ripened fruit is and eat a lot of it.  If anyone reading recognizes the seeds, please let me know the name of the plant so I may try and locate some.

Posting written by Charles Wood. Visit Charles Wood’s website for these and more coyote photos: Charles Wood. His work is copyrighted and may only be used with his explicit permission.

“Don’t Hurt Them”

"Don't Hurt Them"

Recently seen coyote sign with graffiti in the middle of Golden Gate Park in the City of San Francisco, one of the 10 largest urban centers in the United States! Most of us feel this way about our urban coyotes.

Please don’t hurt them, and please don’t take away their habitat. Their habitat includes thickets which offer them a protected place to live. Nativists are removing trees and thickets, and replacing them with native grasses which offer no habitat protection to our feathered and furry wildlife which now live in our parks.

Native grasses existed on sand-dunes which made up the landscape in 1776, but the ecology of the area has evolved since that time and it is because of this evolution that the wildlife we now have was attracted to the area and now lives here. This wildlife was not here in 1776 when the only plants were native grasses and four types of sparse growing trees.

PS: You can prevent uncomfortable encounters by keeping your dog on a short leash in known coyote areas.

 

Signs of Scat, An Old Coyote, A Sick Ewe and A Dead Rabbit: More on Ginny’s Coyote Area

Hi Janet,

scat upon scat (now with mold)

Yesterday I walked the other way onto the well-used multi-purpose trail called the Springwater Trail.  The first half mile of the trail heading east has had a lot of scat at times.    This is the area I referred to as being half a mile away and possibly containing a den.  Yesterday there was only one quite recent pile while everything else had been there a week ago.  Today I walked to the pups sighting location.  No new scat anywhere.  I’m wondering if that means the pups have been moved.  I also checked another part of the trail not too far away and found no new scat.  I have seen a lot of it there before also.

We saw the lame coyote once when he trotted in front of our car.  He looked and moved like a very old dog would move and that is why I label him as old.  He is not thin but is very ragged looking.  I have only seen a coyote once on the trail (that is how I found your blog because I wanted to learn all that I could about them) and that was right at the trail entrance near our house.  Hunting for rabbits no doubt!  Bud saw an adult last fall on one of his walks. Both of these had beautiful coats and seemed very healthy.

trail where pups appeared

Last week I met a family with grandparents walking on the trail and mentioned the coyote scat to the children.  The grandparents told me they have sheep and coyotes stand at their fence and sing and whine all the time.  The grandfather told me that recently he had a sick, old ewe and THREE DAYS later when he went to check on her he only found most of her skeleton.  He is sure the coyotes picked her clean – including her gum tissue and ribs.  They said coyotes would infrequently take a newborn lamb after I asked if they thought the coyotes actually killed anything.  Any person who would knowingly leave a sick animal for three days – well I cannot relate to them.  I’m very cautious what I say to people on the trail about the coyotes.   One man we see on the trail is sure someone shot coyotes a few years back.

blackberries through which pups disappeared; there is more scat again now, indicating resumed activity in the immediate area

On Monday I noticed a dead rabbit at the beginning of the trail which is near our house.  It appeared to have died mid-crawl.  I turned it over and did not see any injuries or changes in hair.  About a week earlier Bud said “it smells like something died in the blackberries” as we walked by the same location.  Several neighbors and dog walkers who use the trail came to the same conclusion I did – that a neighbor might be poisoning rabbits.  We are all very concerned.  I really hope this is not the case.  Yes, rabbits do incredible damage to yards and gardens but rabbit fencing keeps them out.  I know, we added it to the existing deer fence around our yard.  Yesterday the rabbit was gone but I suspect a neighbor disposed of it.  I have read that coyotes are very smart about not consuming poisoned food and I hope that is the case here.  We have a family of red-tailed hawks in the greenspace that I am really enjoying and I think they prefer freshly killed prey over carrion.  Poison can travel so fast up and down the food chain.

I’ll let you know if I notice any changes.  I don’t expect to see coyotes because our dog really seems to have a history with coyotes.  He is a Bouvier rescue we have had almost a year.  He spent several years running loose on the NM mesas and he thinks deer, coyotes and rabbits are to be chased.  He also barks like crazy.  I’m sure the local coyotes know him and make sure not to reveal themselves to us!

Ginny


Description Of One Coyote Area

Janet,  I went with Bud this evening so he could show me the details of his encounter with the pups. He also showed me where they dashed into the blackberries and there is definitely a pathway there if you know where to look.  There has been a great deal of scat on that portion of the trail since Feb. which is why I suspected a den.

I did see five piles of scat that were left within the last 24 hours along the trail closer to our house and on the way to the sighting location.  Three of those piles were from large coyotes so I’m confident there is a parent around.  I will now worry less about the pups.  One thing I noticed that I have not seen before  is one pile of scat that had another one on top and around it.  They seemed to be about the same age – probably several days.  Is there a significance to this?  This was very near where the pups dashed into the blackberries.

A dog walker who I recognized told me that she had encounters with two different coyotes very recently.  The first was with an old, lame coyote which turned and trotted up the trail.  This coyote has been spotted often in and near the greenspace.  The second was just two days ago and that coyote stood in the center of the path and stared at her and her two dogs.  She said that the coyote did not appear to be afraid of her and wasn’t moving so she turned her larger dog lose to chase it off!  Her dog returned within minutes and they continued their walk.  Both of these sightings were in the same area and not near the area where Bud saw the pups.

About three weeks ago someone dumped about 25 salmon along side the road near the entrance to the trail where she saw the coyotes.  There is also an entrance very near that one which we use that has an abundance of rabbits.  The coyotes are in the area daily I would guess although the scat now also has cherry pits.  Ginny

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Hi Ginny — There is a lot of information here — a pretty complete picture in a nutshell!  Thank you for sharing it!  There is a den hidden by blackberries back and away from a trail, and a semi-hidden path leading to it, with scat at or close to its entrance. I’m wondering if what you describe as “one pile of scat on top and around another” might just be the “marking” by one coyote on top of the last guy’s marking which is typical of all canines? Or, it might be that a parent is “covering over” a pup’s scent?  I have never seen two scats on top of each other, so I am speculating.

Your friend’s two encounters show two kinds of reactions: coyotes often trot off quickly when they see a person or a dog, but they sometimes will delay and study what is coming their way before leaving, being almost forced to leave at the last minute. 

I have found that coyotes who live in urban areas do not appear always to be afraid of humans, although they do keep a safe distance away; they learn to take people and dogs in stride once they become accustomed to seeing them for a period of time. This is, unless a dog threatens them in which case a chronic antagonistic relationship could develop between the dog and coyote.

That you have an injured coyote is interesting — I hope it is just a temporary injury — you described that coyote as old. Old age takes its toll on all of us, including wild animals. It is interesting for me to find out how these senior citizens cope in their declining years.  I’ve seen a lame (temporarily lame) young coyote hurry away from dogs from a much further distance than he did before or after the injury, so this may have had something to do with the older fella hurrying off. But also, each coyote is an individual with its own personality, and some tend to be shyer and more careful, and some bolder than others.

The salmon must have been a feast for all the wildlife around:  raccoons, skunks, raptors as well as the coyotes. Scat reveals a lot about coyote diets.  Coyotes are opportunistic eaters — which means they can eat almost anything that is edible. I guess they found a cherry tree!


Why Isn’t Mom Around?

Hi Janet:

Last evening my husband, Bud, and our dog were walking on the nearby trails and saw a coyote pup about 150 feet ahead zigzagging back and forth on the trail.  He stopped, remembering that I had told him that coyotes are very protective of pups.  Our dog has a bad sense of smell so didn’t notice the pup.  Then another pup comes out of the blackberries and then a third.  They were very curious and moved about 50 feet down the trail toward Bud and still our dog did not see or smell them.

Bud was delighted but also concerned and was ready to turn around when the little yapper dog who lives much further up the hill but next to the trail saw our dog and came down the trail full throttle and barking loudly.  He was not at all interested in the pups but he did scare them and they dashed into the blackberry bushes.  Bud continued up the trail and only when he got to the spot they disappeared into did our dog smell them.  He then went nuts of course.

Is this normal for pups to be exploring without an adult near?  We knew that there was a den closeby that area because of the amount of scat on the trail.  We have noticed pup scat lately also. We also suspect there is another den about half a mile from this one.  How much area does a group of coyotes claim?  Or do they claim it at all?

We have many black-tailed deer in the area and many fawns each spring.  I have been curious about the possibility of coyotes killing very young fawns that are left in hiding while their mothers graze elsewhere.  I have never seen any evidence of this happening.  Does it?

Thanks for all you do for coyotes!  Ginny

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Hi Ginny –

Thanks for sharing your concerns — it’s a very interesting situation. From my own experience and from what I have read, coyote pups are keenly watched by their parents — either by one or by both parents. Even if a parent is not apparently around, the parent/s are always close by and ready to defend the pups if necessary. I should add that I have seen a mother coyote keep an eye on her brood from a huge distance away — she kept an eye on them as she relaxed in the sunshine. And then I saw her dash off in their direction, but I do not know why. Mothers do leave their pups when they go off to hunt, but she tucks them away in a safe spot where they normally stay. 

Other possible explanations for pups without a parent close by, include an overtaxed single parent who happens to be in hot pursuit of prey nearby, or a parent holding off another dog which had chased it in hopes that that dog wouldn’t find the pups. Worse would be if the parents have been injured or are ill and unable to defend their brood, or if they’ve met an untimely death.

More than likely, the pups just strayed from where they were supposed to stay put. But it wouldn’t hurt to check on them.

Maybe you could take walks in that area of the woods for the next few days until you can figure out the situation? Whatever you do, don’t get too close to the pups and don’t try picking them up — a parent coyote may come out of hiding to ferociously defend its young. If you continue to see the pups without a parent, you have a dilemma: I’m not sure the pups can survive without their parents, however anything you do to interfere is going to alter their natural lives forever.

If you see the pups alone again, you could call the humane society. If they are progressive, they would help raise the pups in such a way so that they won’t become habituated and so that they can be released again into the wild. Most humane societies are not equipped to do this.

You could also leave the pups to see if they make it on their own — maybe the humane society could suggest a way for you to help these pups without actually intruding on them or overtly interfering so as not to habituate them or alter their wildness?

As for the fawns, coyotes tend to look for the easiest prey to catch. Voles and gophers work fine in my area, but they also eat skunks, raccoons and squirrels here. Yes, coyotes are known to prey on newborn deer. I’ve read where newborn deer are protected by their lack of odor — I don’t know how much protection this offers against coyotes. But also, coyotes are known to be very individualistic in their behaviors and just because coyotes in one area eat certain prey doesn’t mean they do so in other areas. So to find out what yours specifically are up to and what their eating and preying habits are, you would need to explore for such activity.

You said there was another den only half a mile away from this one. A coyote family normally has more than one den which it moves the pups between. Moving the pups diminishes flea infestations and also it  serves as protection against predators.

Also, it is not unusual for coyotes — including very young ones — to be curious about walkers and dogs, and follow them.  However, a parent — if he is around — may decide that this kind of behavior calls for disciplinary action: see Charles Wood’s posting  More Dominant Male/Father Coyote Behavior .

I hope this helps a little. Please let me know, and please keep me posted on what you find out!  Sincerely, Janet

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Thanks for your reply Janet.  Bud went to the same spot tonight and didn’t see the pups.  There is a lot of underbrush and blackberries everywhere along the trail except where it has been removed as invasive species.  Coyotes are not seen often because of this.  Lots of people let their dogs run loose on the trail but Bud did not see anyone else yesterday although it is a fairly large, heavily wooded area with several trails.

Regulars on the trail only see coyotes a few times a year.  Most of the trees are deciduous so I really tried to spot them during the winter but no such luck.  I think they are very used to the dogs and walkers and so know where to locate so they are not within view.  We will keep an eye on the situation as best we can.  The city only removes invasive species by hand so they do not have funding for much work.  They primarily remove the holly trees hoping to attract songbirds.  There are some songbirds there but also in residence is a Cooper’s Hawk(s) who dines on those same songbirds.  Ginny

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