Canid Conversation, by Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet, 

That was a great post about the coyote incident with child. I hope it furthers awareness. It’s really a matter of common sense and safety. Certain cities will have coyote populations. Forever. The sooner people live coyote aware the better for all. Children included.

A different but fascinating account on sheep ranch is something I received this morning.

I usually dont patrol sheep properties. Not a fan and they can be problematic in big areas for our style of checks.

This operation is pretty well run. The owners discovered long ago a 3 prong approach for coyote and sheep ranching. A large pack of LGD is used on rotation in the herds. Allowing conforming (don’t raid sheep) coyote pairs to become established and see off nomadic and less predictable coyote. And in back of property, away from herds, road kill is left. It’s legal here to collect/harvest roadkill. Deer are collected by ranchers family and taken to a consistent spot complete with cameras. The local territorial coyote are well fed on voles and periodic road killed deer. They are very content and don’t raid sheep.

The cameras on property also give them sight into ongoing behaviors. 

Originally…they thought an established coyote was changing into unwanted behavior. These coyote and LGD come to know each other at distance and by scent marks. There is a sort of truce…the coyote know death waits if they come in. But that the dogs won’t chase if they stay back. 

Trail and pasture cams show a male coyote well known coming to dogs and acting agitated. The dogs shouldering up together and slowly getting aroused..then setting off for a round. The coyote fades back to trails and woods and disappears.

But other trails show other developments.

The coyote runs down common sheep and ranch trails…but avoids the wooded hill sections. Literally same time coyote is trotting toward LGD areas, traveling wolves are moving through wooded property. They aren’t staying. They use this land to travel to elk herds and Cascade destinations. But they travel through foothills and ranches and the heart of coyote turf.

When they pass through..its seems a pattern has developed the local coyote vocalize at the wolves..but one male runs to LGD areas in some sort of alarm call. The LGD actually respond…pack up and 4 or 5 of them go to edge of foothills and woods, and mark extensively. It seems the wolves..who were moving anyway..glide away and disappear. So far..the LGD pack holds sway. 

Is it possible that this coyote has tenuously connected his alarm with wolves to alerting LGD? It seems far fetched…until we realize..how many dogs in towns and cities bark in chains of alerts and joining in. 

It is now at point if there are alot of coyote “rackets” and run arounds…the LGD can be seen trotting out..and the woods cams show a wolf…or several..moving through.

I asked if they were going to put coyote on ranch payroll. No comment.

Lou

PS-This Canid Conversation is also under study by a couple of biology students. One Question was…Do the Road kill Deer attract wolves and raise issues? So far…the answer is no. The structure of the spot and lay of land deer kill is left is a funnel shaped area purposely designed for camera shots. They want to see who feeds in this area far from sheep herds. It seems to spook wolves…the funnel and cameras. Coyote have no qualms. Neither do cougar, bobcat, badger, raccoons, weasels, mink, or possums. Bears are an issue only because..they often destroy cameras. Bears have a very specific way they treat cameras. And often the camera don’t survive.

But so far 7 years of pics…not a single wolf has entered to funnel shaped spot. 

Lou

Nature, by Walkaboutlou

Wolf1

Hi Janet. I’ll fill you in more by Monday or Tuesday but I’m sorry to say the 2 mom pack (part 1 and part 2) has appeared to suffer a serious blow. Trail cams and evidence seem to point to wolves finding them.

3 pups remain, as well as Big Brother and Janet (2nd mom). Chica Alpha Mom and 6 pups seem gone. Slim Jim is badly injured especially in neck region but holding. Janet brought the 3 pups back to original cliffside denning region. Later Big Brother appeared and day later, Slim Jim hobbled in.
He is staying with remaining pups. Big Brother his son was seen feeding him.
 
It’s times like this that test us as students of nature. Because when wolves are part of the land, or reestablish themselves…how do we feel?
 
Hearing the details I admit isn’t easy. Am I a nature lover or coyote lover? Both?
 
These wolves have been passing through many months. But as pup seasons and pressures mount, they have pups too. And it’s obvious they honed in on “our” coyote.
 
Trail cam evidence shows at least 5 different adult wolves these last few weeks.
 
I will fill you in more next week as we piece together what roughly happened and hope perhaps Chica and some pups emerge.
 
Lou
These are ALL wolves from trail pics in Oregon. 2 were in my area.
 

Hello Janet.
 
This is the latest observations on our 2 mom pack. 
 
It took many days to piece together likely what has happened and we will never know the exact story.
 
But it does appear yes, that Chica the top female and 6 of the 9 pups were lost to wolves. Elder Slim Jim was badly injured and is recovering well, incredibly. Big Brother, yearling, and Janet, grown daughter and 2nd Mom, are well. And 3 pups including the kinky tailed female, thrive.
 
Trail cams for some months revealed at least 4 different wolves coming through the property from adjoining public lands and cascade forest. They seem to travel through foothills and return to cascades regularly. They don’t bother livestock, and seem to avoid LGD areas. 
 
However, it’s very likely they eventually sensed and zeroed in on “our” coyote pack. 9 pups and 4 adults makes noise and many trail scents in Oak Savannah areas.
 
This is where we are challenged. Am I a nature lover or coyote lover? Am I merely observing or emotionally invested?….I am all those. I try to be. And the family who has known these coyote years and understandably upset.
The truth is, wolves need space. They need much space and meat. They are territorial. They also, often, will not tolerate any canid strangers in their claimed areas. Be it stranger wolf, dog, or coyote. And while there are solitary wolves that will flee even a beagle, a pack of united wolves feeding and raising pups are pressed themselves.
The wolves in trail cam were lined 4 strong at 2 a.m. and heading towards the coyote pack.
 
Other trail cams show them leaving and going east at 4:43 am, back towards cascades. That morning, Slim Jim was seen staggering towards original cliff den area. 3 pups later appeared to cliff dens with Janet. And Big brother. The adults seemed extremely stressed. Slim Jims neck and back wounds seemed very bad. Not a sign of Chica or other 6 pups ever showed. The Oak Savannah area is completely avoided now.
 
Fast fwd nearly 2 weeks. Big Brother and Janet fed pups and Slim Jim at cliffs. Slim Jim drank morning dew for water as he healed. He gained strength and literally lead his pack away from cliffs.
 
His head is a bit crooked. His throat and back have bare areas. But he seems resolute and definitely in charge. 
Slim Jim took his surviving family away from cliffs and oak savannah 4 miles away. In his injury and loss, he showed no panic. He merely healed and when he could move, he left with plan and purpose. 
 
Slim Jim led, with Janet and pups in tow. Big Brother behind in rear. And he led them all to the bison.
 
The small Bison herd have many calves this spring. Their area is open grassland with pockets of trees. They curiously in past have allowed Slim Jim and other coyote to hunt almost under their feet. But any dog….or wolf, is charged at and has to run for life. No canids stick around Bison. Especially bison with calves. But coyote can.
We can only imagine the 3 pups shock as Slim Jim led them by the bison to a little grove of ancient cottonwood. The trickle of stream and deep cover around cottonwood patch are the pups new area. 
 
Slim Jim and pups have been seen mouse hunting among the bison some days now.
 
Janet and Big Brother come and go and feed pups.
 
Among the Bison and a tiny patch of cottonwoods, Slim Jim is rebounding. Healing. And 3 pups are growing fast. 
I hate that our pack of 11 pups and 4 adults were decimated by wolves to 3 pups and 3 adults.
 
I love that wolves have returned. 
 
It’s complex. It’s nature. It’s their world.
 
And I love that Slim Jim, Janet, and Big Brother rebounded. They did what coyote have done since Ice Age times. They rebounded and are resilient. They have found respite among Bison. And have found a time and place of peace.
 
Regards warmly,
Lou

The coyotes will rally as they always do. Be it man or nature, they have existed eons and eras. Individual mishaps or pack disasters only better the survivors. I can’t really describe how tough and resilient pressured coyotes become. But I can watch and hear and absorb their lessons. In some ways the pack had a disastrous pupping season in spring. But by summer they healed, adapted and found a break among bison. Those pups are mousing among a herd that are as good a pup sitter you can find in the strangest of ways. No dogs or wolves can safely enter the Bison area. But they tolerate the coyote with aplomb.Turning great loss into safe havens is coyote strategy. I think Slim Jim remembers ancient ties with Bison. And saved the remaining pack. 

It is one thing to say I love wolves. (I do) but also that means I have to accept….what they can sometimes do. I’m not happy about this. It will take time. But..I know its?not vindictive or any human vices. Its wild canines living wild lives. Also…the wolf only makes surviving coyote…that much stronger.Onwards Song Dogs. Lou

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