By Adrianne Murchison, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Coyote sights and sounds — yipping and howling at night, the occasional attack on a beloved pet — is spreading fear in some metro Atlanta communities that is showing up on social media sites.
It’s coyote mating season, and some are turning up in residential communities to establish territory before going into their dens for the birth of new pups around mid-March, said Chris Mowry, co-founder of the Atlanta Coyote Project.
by Bill Scully (drawing by Margareta Meta Larsson)
Shepherd’s Meadow Farm, Toccoa GA
Last October I had my dance with a coyote.
Scrub had overtaken a section in the back field and the Fescue underneath needed room to breathe. I usually mow the perimeter first, working my way to the middle. The shadows were growing longer, stretching as if rising from sleep, reminding me that I had started later than I’d like. The day would close in a couple of hours.
The tractor labored steadily down each row. Suddenly, there he was, just a hundred feet directly ahead. He seemed to materialize out of nowhere. He was gray and tan, an easy blend with ground cover that had lost its summer lush. He looked to be about 40 pounds and had prick ears and a black tip on his tail. The muzzle was so pointed it seemed to turn upward.
He had the attitude of an individual at the top of the food chain, where panic is part of the prey’s behavior, but never the predator’s. If there was fear, he made sure he didn’t show it. He was cautious, but self-assured. In his mind, this was, after all, his turf.
I motored on, closing the distance between us. He held his ground. As I passed, he hopped to the side but kept his eyes on me. As I came around again, he was still there and it dawned on me what he wanted. Mower blades scare up field mice, a coyote staple. Sure enough, he zeroed in on something and pounced. His tail went up as if to celebrate the catch. A couple of hard chews and down went the first course. His second catch was more businesslike. He held the animal down with his paws and gnawed at it as if he were pulling the fuzz off a tennis ball. With that, he leaped over a bush and was gone.
We hear them out there at night or when they answer the siren of an ambulance or fire engine. The coyote’s song is, somehow, both beautiful and menacing. Their distinctive yip-yip-a-o-o-o-o-o-o-w has been said to resemble the yell of a Rebel soldier as he charged into Civil War battle – – equal parts shout and scream. One of my dogs tries her best to imitate the quivering call, and does fairly well. Most of the deficit is in the yip-yip part, since her bark lacks the sharp popping sound of the wild dog. Coyote puppies can do it, but they usually end their say in the matter with a pitiful shriek that lacks authority. High marks are scored for effort.
Wiley can be defiant toward humans. You can walk toward a coyote and he sometimes will hold his ground until he hears the click of a gun being loaded, then he will run. He knows that a clicking sound is not something that nature makes and the centuries have taught him that if you want to survive, sometimes hightailing it is better than curiosity or arrogance.
I’ve seen coyotes stand and trot and run, but I have never seen one actually walk. They never seem to rest, moving from place to place at a nimble trot, casting nervous glances over their shoulder, as if they had just committed some offense, or were about to, and the law was after them.
A week later, Wiley appeared when he heard the tractor start up. He was waiting for me! We repeated the same dance as before and after his main course and dessert, I never saw him again. To this day, he’s the only one that ever mistook me for Kevin Costner.
We were anxious to see and/or hear how coyotes might respond to the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017 and this wonderful video provides us great insight. It was taken by Rob Keehner near Mt. Jefferson, Oregon at the time of totality. We received a report of similar coyote behavior occurring near Johns Mountain, Georgia. If you heard coyotes howling during the solar eclipse, please let us know about it!
This coyote was evidently not shy and appeared ready for his/her close-up. We captured this footage on one of our remote cameras just before Christmas. Note the heavy coat at this time of year, which likely served the animal well over some days and nights of extremely cold weather. The fur will be shed to a more comfortable thickness once the summer months arrive. A thick coat often makes a coyote appear larger and heavier than it actually is, but coyotes in the southeast rarely weigh more than 35 lbs.
By conducting whole-genome sequence analysis on 28 canids—including gray wolves, red wolves, eastern wolves, coyotes, and even domestic dogs—the team found that the red wolf is about 25 percent gray wolf and 75 percent coyote, while the eastern wolf is about 50 to 75 percent gray wolf, and roughly one quarter coyote.read article
We occasionally find that coyotes are anything but camera shy. In these film clips we see and hear a coyote (or coyotes) closely inspecting one of our remote cameras. Note the date stamps on the film show two different occurrences of this behavior – July 8 and August 5, 2016.
Living With Coyote, a short documentary by Priya Shelly, follows generational sheepherders and urban biologists in the American West who share a common topic of concern: coyote presence.
With rural coyotes predating on lambs in the Rocky Mountain ranges and urban coyotes feasting on garbage, small pets and fruit trees in suburban/urban areas, killing the problem coyote seems like a great quick fix. Contrary to this belief, there is no simple solution.
Living With Coyote delves into the complexities of keeping our wild neighbors on the land that we share and raises awareness on the importance of human responsibility and stewardship. You can watch the 18-minute film at the link below.
Domesticated dogs and cats are not common prey items for coyotes. Coyotes are essentially omnivores who will eat just about anything, so there is usually an easier meal available than Fluffy or Fido. Nevertheless, pets can be at risk of predation by coyotes in certain instances (e.g., wandering too close to an active den site) and they are occasionally attacked. The CoyoteVest might be an option for some concerned pet owners. Californians Paul and Pam Mott developed CoyoteVest Pet Body Armor after their own dog was killed by a coyote. Check out their website for more information.visit coyotevest website
A gray wolf pack has established itself in Northern California, state wildlife officials confirmed on Thursday, the first family of wolves known in the state in nearly 100 years.read article
Where does the wild end and the city begin? A great article that was recently published in Conservation Magazine by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. It sounds like an urban myth, but it isn’t. One day a lost coyote wandered into downtown Seattle. It was promptly discovered by a group of crows, who hate coyotes for their habit of preying on crow fledglings. The crows began to chase and dive-bomb the coyote, who, increasingly confused and disoriented, attempted to escape his tormentors by scampering, no one quite knows how, through the front doors of the Federal Building. Read more by clicking on the link.read article