Covering Her Scat

looking back at the dogs

Coyote scat is normally deposited right on a path and in plain view to all-comers: it serves as a territorial marker, or it has been placed there or even “performed” visually in a dog’s presence as a message to that dog, the message being that the dog is not welcome. Our own use of the negative explicative, “s..t!”, exudes contempt or worthlessness, which is probably not far from what a coyote is messaging. :))

Today I had a partial view of a coyote defecating behind a tree after eyeing some dogs not far off who she might have had trouble with in the past. Then, surprisingly, she began to cover it up — bury it — by using her snout to push wood chips over it. She covered it thoroughly, pushing with her nose repeatedly. I waited until the coyote trotted away before going over to confirm what I had only partially seen.

the wood chips under which I found the scat (which I moved to the left)

Since there was nothing there to be seen, I had to review my “pooping” photo of her to locate the exact spot where the “mess” had been deposited and then hidden. I moved the wood chips with my boot, and, voilá, there it was: brand new scat. I gathered it up in a doggie-bag: it was still warm.

The question is, since it is normal for a coyote to leave these “messages” out in the open, why had she covered it up? Had she changed her mind about the dogs? How often do they do this? I’ve only seen this behavior a very few times. I had to laugh at the thought that this coyote might have felt it was the right thing to do to remove or cover her mess as she has seen all the dog-walkers do! This area has heavy dog-walking traffic. :))

Reflection, Reflecting

The reflection in the water caught her eye. She tried to make contact with it, but how can you make contact with a contradiction? Water or coyote? Did her reflecting go further . . . ? “Is it me, my reflection: singular, or is there another: you, plural?” The thought fizzled with the effort, and she decided to look no more, but to move on to her more concrete world.

Anger


This is the same happy coyote who is in the previous posting, “BURSTING with Happiness”. But now she has been chased by a large four-year-old white female dog, a 90-pound Pyrador, who is a repeat-chaser. The female dog taunts the coyote on purpose: the dog gives chase to the coyote and even stops at the coyote’s favorite lookout/resting spots and pees there in a sort of “take that!” way. Peeing is used by dogs to communicate dominance and one-upmanship.

The coyote’s reaction to this treatment is anger. She doesn’t get angry often. In fact, she only complains distressingly and angrily this way when this one particular dog chases her, even though other dogs, too, chase her. If you need confirmation that she’s angry, twice towards the end of the video clip you’ll see her kicking the ground, which is a display of anger. She is very upset. Yes, coyotes have feelings.

Below are more photos of anger. These are of another coyote — in this case, a male — displaying his anger in the same way by *kicking the dirt*. He’s not marking his territory. He’s not spreading his scent. He’s upset and angry because a dog has taken the liberty to act disrespectfully towards him in his territory. The dog is a two-year-old female German Shepherd who has, as in the first example, chased the coyote in the past.

These photos were taken as the dog was playing frisbee exuberantly with her owner. The owner kept his dog from chasing the coyote this time.  I tend to think it’s less the dog’s presence — after all, other dogs are not reacted to in this fashion by this coyote — than the dog’s “oneupmanship” and “dismissive” attitude towards the coyote which is so upsetting to the coyote. You’d be surprised at how much is communicated below the reach of human radar. If the owner were not around, the coyote would probably be messaging the dog much more firmly: say, with a nip to the haunches. The message would mean, “go away, leave me alone, leave my territory alone”. It’s how coyotes communicate to each other. When the dog and owner finally left the area, the coyote finally relaxed.

And here’s my favorite example from years ago of the same coyote-anger-display towards a dog who, again, intruded upon a peacefully resting coyote by chasing after it. The coyote turned and faced the challenging dog as in the previous examples: it’s not unlike a provoked bull in a bullfight. The intensity of the anger can be seen in the kicked-up flying debris. In the latter two cases, there were young pups around, hidden nearby.

Also see: Display of Temper and Anger at Being Thwarted.

BURSTING With Happiness!

Maybe it’s because she successfully evaded all dogs chasing her, and particularly the very large white dog who has chased her repeatedly in the past. I saw her follow that dog at a distance this morning to make sure the dog was headed away from her. Did this contribute to her happiness, or are coyotes just plain happy critters — just happy to be alive??

Anyway, after rolling on a deliciously smelly piece of wood, she exuberantly battled dried brambles — Doña Quijote fashion, and finally turned her attention to a ball. She knew I was watching and peeked over at me now and then, smiling — yes, smiling — and then continued her play. *Performing* and *showing off* indeed are coyote behaviors, no different from your dog’s, or for that matter, your children’s!

The photos alone are worth a million words, why say more? I’ve divided them into the smelly piece of wood, battling the brambles, and then rolling on the ball — all within the space of 15 minutes! If you click on the first photo of each section, you will be able to see the photos enlarged as a slideshow. Enjoy!


First, wallowing joyfully on the deliciously smelly piece of wood:


Second, battling dried brambles as Doña Quijote (Doña Coyote?), and winning! This is a game this coyote plays often.


And finally, so much fun with a found ball:

Nine Years Old: Happy Birthday Silver!

He just had his birthday a week ago. I see him less now that he’s older: oldsters appear to become a little bit more guarded about their physical selves than when they were younger. I actually had to go look for him to find him — I wanted to post what a nine-year old coyote male looked like. He’s past his prime and very wise. He knows the ins-and-outs of being an urban coyote: he avoids people and dogs as much as possible, and I know I’ve helped by advising everyone to leash and walk away whenever they see him (or any other coyotes).

I first met this guy, sort of, before he was born, by knowing his mom, by seeing her swell in size and then slim down after his and his brother’s birth. I have the exact date. However, I didn’t meet him physically until he was 4 or 5 months old. This is one of several coyotes I’ve known since birth — and for him it’s been 9 years now! His entire personality has matured over time, as is true of most of the older coyotes I know. They are stellar and stable neighbors!

I watched his puppyhood, and then how his camaraderie with his brother — they were the best of friends — changed into intense sibling rivalry as they vied for a mate. He had his first litter when he was four years old. His mate disappeared after that so he paired up again, and has been having small litters (one pup each) for the last 3 years. He’s a dad again this year, but I won’t know anything about his pups for 4-5 months. He’s a protective mate and a protective dad. It’s important to abide by his wishes and keep away.

Today, I saw him before dawn as he was headed in for the daylight hours — into his daytime resting spot — but he decided to take a short roundabout trek before doing so, the way he always has. He knows me well and allows my presence. He sniffed along the pathway as he walked, assessing *who* (in terms of dogs) had been on the path he was on, and he looked around. I’m sure he knows all of the regular dogs in the park, and their behaviors. He stopped when he reached one of his favorite lookouts, and there he looked around his entire domain. He was on top of the world and he could see everything.

This coyote and his family have *owned* the land since I first met his parents 10 years ago. No other coyotes have been allowed into this territory. There have been several intruders over the years, but they were immediately and unconditionally driven out. His dense and long fur — still thick from the winter — conceals the tell-tale scars of age on his face and body which can be seen in June and July when the fur has all been shed.

At his lookout, he immediately went into alert-mode, I could tell, indicating that there were dogs, even though in the distance, which he did not feel comfortable seeing. He has been chased often by dogs, and sometimes he has stood up for himself. Here, he stood up, and warily and tensely watched some dog/human duos, but when they passed he lay down, and there was a period of relaxation. He must have been tired: he lay his head down, but I’m sure he kept his eyes on things — I couldn’t really tell because I was in back of him.

After this period of surveying his territory, for about half an hour, he decided it was time to head in before more people and dogs appeared in the park. So he got up, stretched, and then sauntered along the same path but in the opposite direction, with me some distance behind. He suddenly stopped: dead still. Two dogs saw him and ran in his direction. They were excited, alert and ready. The coyote’s mood changed quickly from a relaxed, elongated walk, to a compact run, with ears turned back so as to be able to hear everything. He retraced his steps back to his lookout, but to a higher altitude than before: he was anxious.  I asked the owner to please call his dogs, which the owner did. Silver remained standing and watching until the dogs were well out of sight, and then he again retraced his steps “home” again, but this time off the path and along a fenceline.  He was still worked up: he ate some grass and then heaved, with his stomach pumping in-and-out forcefully, until he was able to regurgitate the contents of his anxious/acid tummy.

His pace was now slow again, keeping to the fenceline until he was forced to take the path because of where he was going. He looked around as he now followed the path, stopping repeatedly as he did so. When a runner turned on a path ahead he again became alert; he stopped and waited. He was not seen. When all was clear, he went a little further on the path and then veered off into the tall grasses and then the bushes. So, this was an hour in the life of a nine-year old male, father, mate and territory claimant. Coyotes in captivity can live as long as 14 to 16 years, but in the wild their lives have been estimated to be closer to five years. We’re still learning what their lifespan is in urban settings. Nine-years shows that he’s just as viable, if not more careful, as ever!

Altruism: Helping A Sibling With Ticks On Her Ear

Just as in human families, some coyote siblings squabble, and some are truly altruistic, providing loving and unselfish help where and when needed. Here is a coyote youngster who has spotted a tick on his sibling’s ear. He spent several minutes, ever so carefully removing the tick and then bathing the area with the saliva from his tongue. Saliva has mild antibiotic qualities, so everything he did was helpful!

Let’s Address a Little-Known Law that Promotes Hunters, by Kiley Blackman

As the war of words rages stronger than ever over gun violence and how to deal with it, there is one little-examined contributing factor that needs attention: The role of the overwhelming hunting culture going on all across this country.

Where does it start? All “environmental conservation” agencies, including the Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and APHIS, have a requirement that, by law, only hunters can serve on their advisory boards. These laws, established almost 100 years ago, guarantee a deckstacked, lethal outcome for the wildlife they are intended to protect – by deliberately banning non-hunters from decision-making about wildlife, while encouraging all forms of hunting as the “norm” for wildlife “conservation.”

At a time of calls across the country for gun control, these arbitrary, discriminatory laws that baselessly promote hunting need to be examined, as well. In fact, breaking the hunter/National Rifle Association stranglehold on our laws must be finally be addressed.

Such laws are being challenged all over the country: “Pro-wildlife citizens demand seat at DNR table” (Madison, Wisc.), “Fish and Game commission needs greater diversity” (New Hampshire), “Hunting foes want to snare seats on Vermont’s fish and wildlife board” (Vermont). The public needs to be made aware of these facts – and that there is finally a bill to correct this injustice in New York State: Sen. Tony Avella, champion of several other animal protection issues, has introduced S3327 (companion bill A6519), currently in the Environmental Conservation Committee, which abolishes the unfair “hunters only” requirement of the NYS DEC. We don’t want to take your guns; we just want our right to contribute our voice – yet, hunters vociferously fight such change.

Hunters indignantly insist they are the only ones “qualified” to oversee these directives – and claim their license fees entitle them to a special, exclusive position on the DEC advisory board. But the fact is, “non-consumptive” users of NYS parks (defined as bird watchers, wildlife photographers, etc.) are at a record high, with almost 72 million visitors in 2017, yet they have no voice in DEC policy making. This is an outrageous injustice, with hunters stridently objecting to each and every suggestion for modifying this slanted system.

The DEC homepage states, “One of DEC’s main responsibilities is to protect New York State’s wild animal and plant populations,” yet it’s next to impossible to find anything on their website except pro-hunting advice, lists of wildlife killing contests, where to kill animals, fairs and other public events that are “admission free” for hunters, etc..

As the national movement and demand for gun control and banning assault rifles – both of which hunters fight against passing – steamrolls across the country, the effort to pry their undemocratic monopoly of wildlife management away from them is hard fought, as hunters – who supposedly stand for America, democracy and the Flag – attempt to deny us our rights. Hunting is in decline, and the hunters know it, yet they hold all the cards; their suppression of democracy just adds more taint to this questionable, antiquated and cruel activity.

An innocent woman walking her dogs upstate is dead because of hunters, and it’s not the first time that has happened. With the DEC’s excessively-promoted hunting culture in place, upstate New York residents fear going out to their own backyards during hunting season, and children at the tender age of 12 have been empowered and encouraged by the DEC to slaughter animals for sport. In Syracuse, the DEC confiscated a pet squirrel they deemed “illegal,” but they promote and encourage squirrel killing contests. Despite nationwide marches for gun control, a NYS bill awaits votes that would allow hunting in densely populated cities. Although studies have been done on the strong correlation between animal cruelty and violence toward human beings, a current NYS bill would permanently lower the age for universal hunting licenses from 14 to 12 years old; while Florida officials answer the call for gun safety by raising the age for gun purchases from 18 to 21, our senators and the DEC want to put more guns into the hands of children. The “hunters only” DEC law must change: In 2018, we expect all our voices to be enabled; we expect kindness, respect and saner, more measured input to prevail for all. Until the Avella bill passes, suppression and denial of our civil rights to participation in government process will define the DEC. This is not the American way – and it certainly isn’t democracy.

Kiley Blackman
Founder, Animal Defenders of Westchester
(reprinted with permission)

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