Update: Incisive Perception and Ingenuity, by Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet,

Hope all is well. Just wanted to give you an update on that coyote pair that has taken the 3 new ewes.

An important part of sheep operations is careful steps insuring the biosecurity of the flock. This means any newcomers are kept in quarantine even if all records on health are up to date. This usually means an area set apart for new sheep to acclimate, etc before breeding or being released in land and in flock.

It depends. But 2-5 weeks is often the time frame. A pair of new ewes in quarantine with cameras has revealed much.

A pair of old, experienced and semi retired LGD works the quarantine area. And they are indeed dedicated to protecting that area. But it’s obvious, new sheep are nervous. It takes time to settle with new dogs. As soon as new sheep are in the quarantine, that night the pair of coyote visit. They do not enter the pasture. But between 2 and 5 am, they visit. They sit on hay bales, tractors and nearby hill and study the newcomers. They keep far enough not to challenge or agitate the dogs too much. This pattern of visits indicates these new ewes are picked out and studied weeks before being allowed to joining flock or breeding. And likely, exploring a new range and integrating in a new herd makes them stand out even more, and in very wide spaces out of sight of humans, they likely continue to stand out even more.

So…camera recordings indicate intense scrutiny for many days by this coyote pair. They hunt rodents like normal..but “check on” new sheep nightly. The process of quarantine and biosecurity (necessary on a sheep farm) seems to tell them something. A vulnerability. A claim these sheep don’t quite “belong”. Strangers in a strange land so to speak.

Likely releasing the new sheep signals opportunities not associated with resident herds. Its not black and white. But it shows a weakness in isolation, even with dogs present.

So, right away, we implement changes. New ewes being bred to Ram will stay in guarded pastures. No ranging and roaming for them. They will be kept and bred in security, and shipped back immediately to their respective farms.

I haven’t even touched on the subjects of individuals scent, or bonds with LGD…or lack of them. Those worlds within worlds no doubt are a conversation that sheep, dogs and coyote have often. We continue to study and interpret this best we can.

Sheep. Dogs. Coyote.

It can be a precarious situation. But it’s possible if we learn (and relearn) the language.

(if this seems complex, just imagine tourists in NYC or anywhere-depending on area, they may attract locals in the wrong way. That’s what has been created here.)

PS: At 1st I just couldn’t believe the dynamics. But then actually, we all do this all the time. New neighbors warrant attention. While neighborhoods generate a “feel” and pattern of life that locals tune into intuitively. Most of us now a stranger or changed patterns in our personal space.

These coyote have apparently followed human and dog dynamics. Sheep set apart. Sheep isolated. Sheep kept apart. In nature, long term isolation indicates prey in trouble and not moving as the rest move. Isolated sheep not in cycle with resident sheep stand out, and somehow gave birth to a new behavior. They are an opportunity and green light. Also, we think the dogs are dedicated to territory and livestock to degrees. Some of these dogs have literally nursed as pups from sheep. They create various bonds while offering general protection. It’s possible newcomers or strangers get least protection or need time to create some sort of familiarity. After all, we aren’t close to new people until we know them.

PPS: If one wants to struggle always, then we just do whatever it takes and act fast.. But if one wants to learn, and last, and be aware, and minimize loss and maximize profit, if we want healthier land and livestock, and if want to enjoy wildlife and leave lands for generations to come…then we watch…we study..we listen to nature…and use strategy. Wisdom.

That how a ranch, livestock and wildlife can last generations.

Coyote and Badgers

A friend sent me this wonderful video. https://openspacetrust.org/blog/coyote-and-badger/ These two are behaving like very best friends, and in a certain way they are: they are hunting partners. In fact, badgers and coyotes cooperate during hunts: the two together are more effective that each alone. For more, read “Why Coyotes and Badgers Hunt together”

Interestingly, two “explanations” for this coyote’s behavior have been sent to me by various viewers: 1) that, “see, coyotes DO lure their prey to their deaths”, and 2) that, these are “friends”. What’s even more interesting to me is how many people rely on their first impressions rather than trying to find out more. The best thing about this video is that it is causing many more people to see coyotes in a positive light! :))

Incisive Perception, by Walkaboutlou

The title applies not just to the coyotes, but also to the author and rancher who are figuring this out and willing to change their human behaviors to make it work.

Hi Janet,

This past weekend we got a reminder that while successful sheep raising among coyote is totally possible and achievable, it can on occasions be challenging.

This ranch I check on is very efficient. The LGD (livestock guard dog) are spread out in teams of 2-3. They are all experienced and steady and bonded to their sheep. The rancher doesn’t allow deceased sheep to lay about. All new lambs are birthed in specially designed areas.

Most of all, the local coyote are “trained” well, and live off the abundant rodent, jackrabbit and deer. They rarely test the sheep.

Until recently.

A very strange and particularly specific behavior has surfaced. A pair of coyote have preyed on 3 different ewes the last 2 weeks.

What is so unusual is all 3 ewe were visiting to be bred by the ranch’s top Ram. They were visitors, though to our eyes you couldn’t pick them out among other sheep. They are same breed. Same Looks.

But obviously something has set them apart. We suspect somehow the coyote not only “know” a newcomer, but somehow have been given a green light for predation. The LGD ironically may be subliminally less protective of a “new” or strange ewe. It seems unlikely, but this is totally uncharacteristic. This ranch hasn’t experienced any predator losses for years. Something has occurred.

Whenever any new challenge arises, it’s good to sit back, review and so some analysis. What has changed? What is different? What is the true situation? It’s easy to say “coyote can’t help themselves”…but that isn’t true. Many coyote have shown they can and do refrain from certain choices. And when they have for years…and then suddenly take 3 ewes, 3 VISITING ewe, (one at a time)…you have to sort it out, or at least make it unavailable for them. Another ewe is slated to visit for breeding. She will be kept in small pasture with ram and dog and cameras.

It just shows, the dynamics, changes and circumstances never are 100% predictable. But we’re determined to solve or at least stop this new behavior of new ewe predation by changing our behaviors.


What I’m learning from this is just as guard dogs may not guard a stranger or neighbor’s house…an LGD may not necessarily guard all livestock or livestock it isn’t “bonded to”. It can vary and obviously we don’t know all. We do know that obviously the herd, the dog’s….and coyote…recognize new livestock…and it’s possible there are vulnerabilities here, at least in this ranch, we never thought about.

It seems crazy…but it’s possible that some dogs may give “permission” to coyote in certain situations. Its something we want to avoid and modify. Elimination of this coyote pair isn’t an option because we don’t know what the inevitable replacement would be like. It’s always better to influence and modify coyote behavior rather then see what new nomad shows up. (and it’s always several vying nomads which increases instability for a time) We will change this current canine conversation/dynamics eventually.

It’s always dynamics, fluctuations and new learning with coyote. There are so many variables of behaviors and different situations the coyote is truly a canid chameleon. They are very different in their various regions, strategy and skill. Even individually.

[Read the UPDATE posted on February 5]

Change Is Ongoing

I’ve learned that “change” is a constant within the lives of coyotes — it ebbs and flows overs the seasons, the years, and over a lifetime. Youngsters grow up and leave, loners acquire mates and maybe territories, oldsters lose territories when intruders take over . . . or oldsters just leave because they know they can’t defend the territory or their reproductive years are over or maybe the food supply has dwindled. Death of a loner or dispersing coyote may hardly be noticed by other coyotes (or us), whereas the death of a father, mother, or mate will have far-reaching and life-changing effects on numerous coyotes. Ownership of a territory, can be stable and long-lasting or short-lived and life-changing: I’ve been informed that a coyote female who was driven out of her long-time Presidio territory by an intruder female last year has been found killed by a car in Pacifica. :((  That intruder now claims the territory.

One of the loner coyotes I follow is going through a change. Any observable change in routine behavior is the first clue that something has or is taking place.

Her routine treks through the area started shortening in duration, occurring at irregular times, and then she skipped coming altogether for days at a time, at least during what had been her routine daylight hours. Looking back at my notes, I realize there were some clues which, of course, registered only now with hindsight.

For instance, I documented her angry reaction to what I bet was an intruder coyote in her territory on November 26th [see: Gaping].

A month earlier, it turns out, there was a purported sighting of two coyotes at the site of a “cat incident” nearby.  The possible arrival of another coyote is something I always keep in mind, but neither I, nor anyone I knew, had seen any other coyote, and continued not to. Had another coyote simply been “passing through”? Then again, a shy coyote might be around and hanging low. A new individual would indeed explain some of our coyote’s change in behavior, but there was no evidence beyond hearsay and suspicions.

A month after the gaping observations, on December 21st she seemed to be her usual self (see the first tier of photos below), except for a couple of brief episodes of raised hackles and angry kicking, as seen in the tier of photos below that): none of this behavior suggests anything out-of-the-ordinary occurring. But might the miniscule anger displays have been more telling than I had thought? I’m actually continuing to see these behaviors of hers.

Moseying along as normal and approaching cars to beg which is unfortunate but normal for her.

But occasionally moving along with hackles up or stopping to kick dirt angrily.

After fewer reported appearances for a while, she was again her old self in full-swing on January 2 — she played, hunted, slept, trekked about, and relaxed happily. Maybe what I had been noticing was simply a little hiccup in her behavior? Even though sightings of her had apparently plummeted, those who saw her continued to regard her visits as no different from what they had always been. But I felt that her changed schedule and bouts of anger had to be due to something.

I resorted to placing a trap camera on one of her routine routes at night: maybe the darker hours would reveal a clue? After several days she indeed appeared on the screen at 4 am in the morning. The infrared revealed that she had new facial scars which she hadn’t had before. And then, within less than a minute another coyote passed by on the same path — a larger male. Ahh! That was on January 10th.

Several days later, they again both appeared on the screen and that next morning, my friend Gary who lives closeby, reported that his dog, Ellie, woke him up at 1:30 am, to the ruckus of two coyotes screeching and carrying on loudly in the wee hours of the morning: this “pack howl” is something we don’t regularly hear in this territory.

But the next day, our coyote was out again — alone — during her normal daylight hours. That was on January 15th. Although she hung out and hunted as she normally had, she also spent a long time sleeping on her side by the edge of the road which I’ve only seen when she’s not feeling well, such as after an injury. To me she looked tired and older than she has.

Since then she continues to appear without the other coyote. A week ago, a couple of people reported that they saw a definite “change” in her demeanor and behavior as they watched her, saying she looked “larger” and “different” and “behaved ‘dazed’ and not so secure as normally”.  Could that possibly have been the other coyote? They had no photos to show me.

Today she wandered through her turf uneventfully, hunting a little and then walking purposefully away, down the middle of the street: there was again no indication that anything was amiss. We’ll have to wait and see what, if anything, develops.

This now is the time of the year when coyotes who don’t have mates might be looking for them. Might she be interested in pairing up, or is she, at just about five years of age now, a confirmed perennial loner? Might that other coyote be sticking around?  He seems to have been in the area, even if only off-and-on, from at least mid-October through mid-January. Is he a suitor, or a pursuer — friend or foe? She’s had both types of visitors in the past. There’s always a lot to find out. Please keep your eyes open!

Be An Ambassador for Proper Stewardship of Our Urban Coyotes

You’ll see coyotes on trails in parks and sometimes even on sidewalks in neighborhoods. These are normal urban coyote behaviors and don’t mean the coyote is sick or out to get you.

Guidelines are really simple: just keep your distance and move away, and KEEP MOVING AWAY from the coyote, especially if you have a dog (which more often than not needs to be leashed), but even if you don’t have a dog. Please don’t feed or try to befriend or try to interact with them.

These guidelines are not simply for your own safety — though they are for that too — they are also for the well-being and healthy stewardship of our urban coyotes who otherwise could be (and have been) turned into “stray dogs” who hang around, beg, and chase cars. They need to be kept and valued as the wild and wily critters they were born to be.

Note that too much human “love” is just as harmful to their well-being as a human culture of fear. In some pockets of San Francisco, the pendulum has swung from fear to too much love for coyotes, usually through feeding, coupled with befriending, trying to get near, attempting to communicate, or even prolonged mutual visual contact. This human behavior, over time, can ATTRACT coyotes and break down existing natural and healthy safety barriers, causing a coyote to hang around listlessly, chase cars, approach, and beg — instead of hunt.  It’s best to, ”love their wildness at a distance and maybe just out of the corner of your eye”.

Please be an ambassador for our urban coyotes and invite others into the fold. For further explanations about how human misguided friendliness can impact coyotes negatively, please see: Food: The Behavior Shaper, and  Demand Behavior.



“Fee fi fo fum . . . I smell the blood of an Englishman”. I remember thinking that if the Giant could actually SMELL Jack, then how could Jack hide from him?

This thought came to me as I watched a coyote at dawn hurry purposefully to a spot where she immediately put her nose to the ground and sniffed intently. She immediately kicked dirt: she was decidedly miffed and upset. She continued following that scent with her nose to the ground for the next hour, stopping repeatedly to kick dirt angrily, to mark by urinating, defecating or rubbing, to throw her nose up into the air and whiff the surrounding atmosphere, and to gape.

Someone — either known or unknown to her — had passed through her plot of land — her territory — who was not welcome there. Because of her superb olfactory senses, she not only could tell that someone had been there, and even if not exactly WHO it was, she could read lingering pheromone and other body chemical markers telling her all sorts of things, such as the age, sex, maybe even the social status of the individual involved, and a whole lot more.

Continued gaping

What was new for me was the gaping as she went about sniffing out whoever had been there. I have seen gaping in coyotes who were fiercely warning off and warding off a dog. But here there was no dog or other coyote present, yet that gaping was occurring repeatedly. This was not “yawning” which is more drawn out and accompanied by other behavioral markers. A friend told me that cats gape when they are sniffing/whiffing the scent of other cats. I went online and indeed found something called the Flehmen Response which involves something called Jacobson’s organ or the vomeronasal organ. But the visible behavior of the Flehmen Response was described as more of a grimace or a sneer than simply a wide-mouthed “gape”.  What this does is allows odors in through the mouth instead of the nose causing the odor to be registered as even more palpable than it would be through the nose. The vomeronasal organ consists of two sacs in the roof of the mouth which function more like a “tongue” for scent. This is where the odor is analyzed.

Is this what was going on with this coyote: an intensified “smelling”, or was she just gaping in anger, as though the animal were virtually present? This coyote has never pursued dog scents in this way that I have ever seen, but she has — minus the gaping (or maybe I didn’t notice the gaping before) — towards an enemy coyote.

Whether the gaping was a smelling activity or a show of anger, the coyote’s sniffing, following the scent, repeated kicking dirt angrily, and repeatedly marking in various ways indicate that probably an interloper coyote had been there, and our coyote did not like it. We’ll have to wait for more clues to find out!

Continued gaping

Ranging Bison: An Ecological Win for Everyone! by Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet,

2 years of changes are now being implemented on a ranch I know. A nursery herd of bison was kept isolated for the past 2 years, growing up together, acclimating to land. They had 1st calf this past spring. This new young group will eventually turn into a large herd that will literally roam over 8000 acres.

At the same time, the 100 year sheep operation is in its final stages, and the last lambs are being born.

It’s an end of an era. And a move to create sustainable ranching.

Bison are the very opposite of sheep in every way. They need no protection from predators or dogs. They literally improve grazing if given room. The wildest of erratic weather means nothing to them. They are the future. Ironically, with sheep being removed and many fences torn down, within 2 weeks a band of pregnant elk have began utilizing some areas where they haven’t been seen for years. There’s only a few bison roaming. But already there is a profound change happening. When coyote discover a bison/elk grazed ranch of 8000 acres, no doubt this will be prime territory for a few lucky pairs.

For ranchers who want to survive erratic weather, times, etc…bison are proving themselves more and more.

And where bison roam, coyote are no longer under suspicion.

I feel privileged to see this. How many times are sheep removed….and bison, elk and coyote move in?


Hi Janet,

I forgot to mention, the area the bison have lived past 2 years looks very different from sheep grazed range. The grass is longer. Also, where especially the bulls wallow for dust/mud, depressions develop, holding water, which spring peeper frogs lay eggs in. Their actual grazing is different, and it’s hard to comprehend, but a huge bison has less impact than a sheep in the land.

Like I said, I’m really excited. 8000 acres of ranging bison will be an ecological win. And the coyote that live there will be in prime habitat. No hunting allowed, so I’m sure wildlife will converge here under the new bison banner.

Presentation in El Cerrito

For those who had wanted to attend my PHS/SPCA talk and couldn’t make it, I’ve been invited to give that same talk again in El Cerrito on Tuesday, January 14th. Although it has a different title, it will be the same talk. Again, if you can’t make it, I’ve recorded the talk and made it available here.

The talk is on January 14th at 7pm at El Cerrito City Hall in the city council chamber room, 10890 San Pablo Ave.,  El Cerrito 94530.
[Kensington Outlook, March 2020, Family First: Wily Coyote’s Here To Stay, by Linnea Due.]

Accomplishing The Opposite of What Was Intended

Whereas coyotes are opportunistic omnivores and can eat almost anything animal or plant, we don’t think of squirrels as being omnivores. Although squirrels apparently can’t digest cellulose — which means in the springtime they can go hungry when their buried nuts begin to sprout — they are more omnivorous than most people think. Squirrels eat mostly a variety of plants, including nuts, seeds, cones, fruit and mushrooms, but they are also known to eat meat in the face of hunger: this includes small birds, young snakes, smaller rodents, bird eggs and insects [Wikipedia].

For predators and prey depending on which end of the food chain you are on, you are either at the right place at the right time, or the wrong place at the wrong time.

Squirrels can evade a coyote most of the time unless they’re caught unawares or have let their guard down. In this photo above, the squirrel had been diverted from its path on the road by an approaching car: that split second of indecision and hesitancy by the squirrel allowed the coyote to catch it. Either or both of these critters could have ended up under the wheels of the car. Instead, nature played out a little more naturally through the food chain — one had to die so that the other could live.

Note that, after catching small prey, coyotes often “toy” with it in a very cat-like manner. I’ve been told that this prevents the animal of prey from biting vulnerable parts of a coyote’s face, such as their eyes or tip of the nose, without which coyotes would have a hard time surviving.

Human interferences changes the equation, of course, most often without the knowledge of the human who is thinking of their generous “kindness” to nature rather than the nefarious effects of their actions. Here is a story about what can happen.

These are photos of coyotes looking up and waiting for food tossed to them by a human from her house.

Several weeks ago I became aware that a youngster coyote was hanging out in back of someone’s house. I decided to watch, and sure enough, a woman called to me from her porch to tell me that the coyote I had just photographed was “her” coyote who came out when she fed the squirrels. Within a few days four different coyotes had waited out there at various times.

I assessed her of the situation: that feeding brings in not only squirrels, but also coyotes, and it was a bad idea to feed coyotes. She defiantly told me that she was not going to stop feeding the squirrels. She closed the door so she wouldn’t have to hear me. She doesn’t realize that she’s not helping the squirrels, she’s “luring” them into a coyote death trap.

Here is the impact of feeding squirrels in a coyote area:

Squirrels congregate in the area at “feeding time”.

These squirrels have become fat which actually slows them down: they are less quick to get away.

Because of the presence of food AND fat squirrels, coyotes now hang out at the back of her house regularly. These coyotes are constantly looking up towards her porch and the door Dotty emerges from to feed the squirrels. Coyotes are associating food with humans.

Younger coyotes are becoming trained to wait out in plain view — it’s much easier than hunting. 

A neighbor complained to me that the woman is attracting rats to neighboring houses.

Another neighbor walking his dog complained to me that the coyotes now are always there and he has to deal with them: they stand on the path and don’t move, blocking the path.

I’ve experienced the coyotes walking towards me and surmise that they’re beginning to protect that area with it’s “valuable resources”. One coyote has “escorted” some of the leashed dogs (following them) out of the area.

Attracting the coyotes to this pathway makes them vulnerable to being chased by unleashed dogs.

Attracting coyotes here also makes them vulnerable to other people feeding them and trying to befriend them — and it makes them vulnerable to accepting harmful, even poisonous foods. They are learning not to run away from humans, and becoming more comfortable with human nearness. 

The woman says she feeds the squirrels only on her porch and in her yard, but I’ve seen bread on the path outside her house, and I’ve seen one of the coyotes venture repeatedly into her yard through a hole in the fence to get food. The effect of what she’s doing is feeding the coyotes directly: see “Food, The Behavior Shaper.” 

Worst of all, the squirrels are unsuspectingly being lured into a death trap. I don’t think this is what the woman intended. I’ve seen two squirrels downed already just while I was there.

Recently, I’ve seen scat from the fed coyotes which looks different from their normal scat. Might the bread diet itself be bad for coyotes? 

[9-21 jim Giles video]

A Story of Positivity For the New Year, by Walkaboutlou

Hi Janet,

I enjoy watching a variety of animals. And could spend lifetimes studying. Learning an ecosystem, an area, and patterns takes ages…literally. I can only be content with connections now. But even those inspire. My frustration with modern man systematically hurting life is only balanced by the knowledge that nature will reassert itself in time. Inexorably the universe and cycles will outlast our ways. I don’t claim to know how exactly — but nature always “cleans house” and reasserts its cycles. I suspect mankind will tamper with weather or virus or cycles that will bring about disaster for man. But another era for animals.

I was given some comfort by a local coyote that strengthened me much.

Peg Leg is an “old” coyote who was allowed to hold territorial reign on a remote area of ranchlands some years. He had 2 mates over the years, and successfully reared at least 7 litters. Many pups stayed and eventually took adjoining areas. Peg Leg limped his way through hunts and patrols with true strength. He scavenged deer and bulked up impressively. He was big, bold, and calm. His front left leg, healed but fused straight, lacked mobility. But Peg Leg lacked nothing.

I heard last summer he lost his territory. Several coyotes, possibly fleeing wolf expansion, had displaced Peg Leg and his mate and pack.

I hadn’t seen him for months. Of course felt saddened at the end of the era. But when I spotted him on a distant hill a few days ago, there he was, fit, full, and at ease. He watched us a short time, I believe he recognized us, ……and started tossing a stick.

In my human mind, loss of territory, pack, and control are devastating. I cannot know what Peg Leg thought or felt. But I do know, alone in that hill, he seemed fine. Even playful. His tail was high. His gray face enjoyed the sun. And before he stiffly trotted off, he marked and scratched boldly.

It was just what I needed to see. There are no guarantees in life. Very few happily ever after. And certainly no retirement benefits for aged coyote. It matters little. Peg Leg was still alive. Still indomitable. And still happy enough to toss sticks.

We all have to roll the dice and face life. And the roll often doesn’t go our way. When life is hard, I will forever remember stick tossing Peg Leg. Undaunted, he trots forward as only a coyote can.

Trot long Janet,

“Studying and learning from nature is something I do every day. I have NEVER seen a coyote, raven, crow, etc..feel sorry for itself. And I have met several badgers and one brief moment of a wolverine. There is an indomitable, unbeaten indescribable aura that fills many wild animals. I choose that aura every day. And will keep doing so in all things. So times are tough. But it’s up to us to be tougher. We can make that choice that is reality in nature.

Not long ago I watched some ranch bison grazing in terrible weather (from a distance) The freezing rain meant nothing to them. They grazed half frozen grass in the most content way. And in pure strength and peace. All animals emanate good things we can discern and receive in ourselves. I may look like a tired guy at times. But in my heart the imagery and lessons of coyote, bison, wolverine, bear, wolves etc…never stop.”


Hi Janet,

Another update on “Peg Leg” an older male coyote who seemed to have lost his territory/pack/mate…

He was seen this evening “stuffed” from feeding on mice among cattle. When the cattle settled, so did he. He also was seen….with his old mate!

So he’s not alone. He may have lost old territory, but not his mate. Or his appetite.

Peg Leg continues to thrive and adapt. And be his jaunty self.


The Coyote Hunt in Hancock, NY has been CANCELLED Due to Your Help!

UPDATE: But it’s not over yet. Whitney Point Coon hunters (which isn’t far from Hancock) have picked up the dates that were planned on. The killing of innocent animals will be carried on by a hunting group. Sorry about the news.

Gail updated us with a link to this “Hancock FD Coyote Hunt Cancellation Statement” which I’ve posted here with a screenshot. Gail monitored hundreds of posts and saw no threats of violence, as the statement purports. Please take note of some of the angry comments posted by those supporting the contest, threatening to continue to kill as many coyotes as possible. It’s a mindset which Gail notes speaks for itself. Thank you everyone for signing the petition! We all made change happen with 20,606 supporters!

More information: Coyote Carnage: The Gruesome Truth About Wildlife Killing Contests, by Ted Williams, Yale School of Forestry, May 22, 2018.

Please Help Stop this Barbaric and Reckless Slaughter

Five states have finally eliminated these primitive, inhumane contests. We need to stop them in the rest of the country. Please continue to add your signatures to these petitions.

Press the image to sign the petition

After signing the petition I encourage you to reach out to the mayor of Hancock, NY to ask her to cancel the kill contest. Here is her contact info. If we are civil and respectful, and strong in number, we have a better chance.

Mayor Carolann McGrath
Phone: 607.637.8172
email: vohmayor@hancock.net

My email to her can be seen here.

Send a message to New York’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo by pressing here.

More information: Coyote Carnage: The Gruesome Truth About Wildlife Killing Contests, by Ted Williams, Yale School of Forestry, May 22, 2018.

‘Tis The Season Of Sharing – Let’s Share The Earth With Coyotes, by Katherine Howard

This write-up by Kathy Howard — perfectly timed and appropriately named for the season — appears in the December issue of the Castro Courrier. Kathy has taken information about coyote family life from my recent presentation at the Peninsula Humane Society/SPCA and filtered it into her own words in a fun and informative way. Enjoy! Happy Holidays to everyone! [Digital version in the CastroCourier. It will appear in the WestSideObserver soon].

Press the above image to continue reading (the linked paper can be enlarged by pressing the “+” button).

Coyote Anger: Cat-like Growls or Screams

When coyotes communicate, there’s little room for misinterpretation. You already saw this in my last posting about “coyote insistence” through body language. If they are insistent towards humans and our dogs, you can be sure they are just as insistent towards each other. This short video clip, above, shows this. It was taken after a family howl session in response to a siren. The howling and yiping in response to the siren were sing-songy and upbeat as you can hear here:

The family howling then segues into the evening rendezvous, where the entire family excitedly meets and greets for the evening trekk and other family activities. But Mom is not so keen on having all that high-energy wiggly and excited youngster activity around her. Her vocalizations at this point, as seen in the above video, are of the “raspy” type I discuss in my posting on Coyote Voicings. These are anger, annoyed, and warning vocalizations directed at family members. She’s telling the rambunctious youngsters that she wants space and calm: “get away from me”. She also displays her frustration by complaining with a wide vocalized gape to Dad who happens to be standing beside her. These are sounds you may not have heard from a coyote: they are very cat-like — the kind of sounds a cat would make before swiping at something with its claws.

Remember that coyotes also “pounce” for prey in a very cat-like manner, they toy with their prey as cats do, they splay their toes as cats do, and they “warn” with that very familiar “Halloween Cat” stance which includes a hairpin arched back and often a gape and hiss. I have been asked if coyotes are cats or dogs: I can see why such a question might be asked. Of course, coyotes are neither: they are simply themselves. However, they can reproduce with dogs and have many dog-like qualities, but they also have several very cat-like behaviors which dogs don’t have.

Insistence in Coyotes

Dear Janet,

My name is Lynn and I live in Berkeley.  About one year ago my friend Billee told me about something that happened to her son Tod, who’s about 20, when he was walking home late one night from a cafe where he played guitar.  He was on a tiny narrow street of houses en route to his house which is near that mountain that has the cross on top of it.  He noticed some– what he thought were dogs– slipping around him and then two coyotes faced him in the road.  He’s an outdoors guy, he’s always been an independent kid, and their family is a very kindly anti-materialist family with ancient pets who live forever and are cherished the whole time– just so you know.  Well to Tod these two scared him so much– he could not pass them, and I believe him.  It went on a long time and he ended up yelling for help and a woman called to her husband to open the door when she looked out from an upstairs window.  He opened the door and Tod ran inside their house.

He could not get used to the feeling that these animals really felt such ill will toward him.  But that was clear to him.

When he got home,  nobody could believe in this experience, especially his brother who picked him up.  But I believe it must have been true because why should he lie?  He just isn’t like that.  I thought maybe someone was feeding them there, and they thought Tod had come to steal their food.

I’m so glad to be able to ask you about this.  I read about coyotes in the book, “The Secret Lives of Dogs”.  I think that’s the title.  It was very poignant, about the coyotes. It said, “they know people hate them.”  If that’s true I hope they don’t know it.

Sincerely, Lynn

Hi Lynn —

Thanks for contacting me about this story! It’s an interesting one, and I’ll give you my thoughts about it.

I think there are various things that might be coming into play here. First, late night and shadows can play tricks on human imaginations — especially if the human is tired or might have had a little bit of alcohol or such? But also, depending on the time of year, a parent coyote could have shown a little more bravado or insistence than normal if a youngster coyote was nearby that the parent wanted to protect. And I’ve seen males become protective of their females in the same manner at certain times of the year. Another possibility is that these coyotes could have been protecting a source of food that they just found — say some garbage.

If a coyote is insistent, which is what Tod was saying, it can be VERY frightening. This actually happened to me once years ago. It was the coyote’s insistence that was so scary because it left me feeling helpless: none of my actions caused the coyote to move, and resorting to screaming for help did not work either (no one heard me), but walking away, with my dog in tow, did help. This is what the coyote wanted.

There is also something known as “demand behavior”: (see “Demand Behavior”). You speculated that Tod might have looked like someone else who had been feeding them. I suppose this also could have been driving those coyotes’ behaviors.

It’s important for everyone to know that anyone can save themselves a lot of anxiety and fear by always backing off and moving away from a coyote the minute you see one, before it ever even comes to what happened to Tod. Tod’s kind of encounter doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s best for us all to remember to take the step that’s easiest, most comfortable, and most effective for us and the coyotes: move away and then keep moving away. That’s really what they want.

I don’t believe the coyotes were after Tod due to ill-will towards him or humans in general. IF coyotes harbor any ill-will towards humans, as far as I know it would be in areas where humans caused that ill-will in the first place. I’m in contact with ranchers who have confirmed my own observations: where coyotes are respected and left alone, coexistence works well. But where coyotes are persecuted/killed, there’s a never ending battle revolving around a coyote’s need for survival. Read some of the postings on my blog by Walkaboutlou. So yes, I’m sure they know and feel the hate and antipathy towards them where people indeed have persecuted and hated them. Interestingly, I myself have felt the continued animosity of several walkers who I’ve had to confront about their unleashed dogs chasing coyotes: it’s palpable.

Hope this helps? Let me know if you want to discuss more!!


The minute you see a coyote, even if it is in the distance, walk away from it rather than getting closer and closer.

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