The Wily Coyote

2009-coyote-yosemite
Photo by Jolie Gordon Wikipedia Commons

We have coyotes! I’ve seen them running along the island shoreline and occasionally swimming from the island to the embankment. I, and a number of neighbors, have heard them too. It’s usually in the early summer, late evening-early morning and the noise is nerve shattering. It must be the new litter of spring pups learning to howl at the moon, and they do it so well it scares many of us.

Do they actually have a den on the island? Personally, I don’t think they do. There are several large holes dug into the hill between Oxbow Lane and the school sports field, and I’ll bet that’s where our resident coyote family winters as it’s higher and drier ground. They may give birth to and rear their pups in a lair on the island in the early summer, which would account for the din that wakes us up occasionally.

gpa_bill_coyote_pups_3
Photo by g’pa bill

Coyotes have been unjustly given a bad rap! Killers, child kidnappers, sneaky, evil and worse. At only 30-45 lbs, the coyote is a small to mid sized dog, and has developed a technique to live within suburbia without us calling out the hunting party. He’s managed to avoid dragging your babies into the woods by eating critters you actually don’t want around your home, like mice, rats, chipmunks, voles, snakes and the plague of our flower beds, pesky rabbits.

Note, pet cats aren’t on the list. The reason being, I have always owned cats and in my experience, they are well protected against attacks by dogs. Have you ever tried to put an unwilling cat into a travel crate? It’s an unpleasant experience that requires the wearing of leather to protect against the razor sharp claws and teeth. I’ve seen enthusiastic dogs corner my cats and they really don’t fare well. Once the cat stands its ground, the dog is doomed if he attacks. At least, there will be a yelp when the nose gets bloodied, at worst an eye injury.

“But my cat has been declawed (shame on you) to protect my furniture !” I hear you bleat. It’s well known in the feline evolutionary studies that as different cats evolve, their fangs grow longer. There are many recordings of domestic sized cats with huge fangs, saber toothed kitties. My own cat, a Siamese, was declawed mistakenly by my vet, to say the least, I was unhappy. That cat grew fangs that were well over one inch long, and I think the growth was to compensate for the lack of claws. He planted them into my arm shortly after I moved here, to show me he wasn’t impressed with The Oxbow. The resulting festering  could have killed me if it weren’t for antibiotics.

Coyotes are smart, and they know the risks involved in taking on pussy cats, so I think we can seldom blame them for the odd missing pet cat, unless the cat is ill or overweight and can’t defend itself. Most cats can climb better than coyotes, so if there is a tree nearby, the coyote will go hungry.

Wile_E_Coyote
Wiki Commons

I recently learned that coyotes actually walk on tip-toe to stalk their prey. It would make a amusing clip in a Disney cartoon!

Canadian Geese are a nuisance animal to most folks with lawns edging the canal. They come ashore in dozens, crop the grass too low, and poop everywhere. When shooed away, they kick up a terrible noise in protest.  I find them particularly annoying when they start honking just before dawn. Our coyote neighbors happen to like goslings, and the geese knew it and tend to stay well away from coyote territory. We must thank them, coyotes are our friends, keeping our lawns clean!

Many people think that its best to get the authorities to remove the coyotes from their suburban area, but that approach has been tried many times with the result that it encourages a higher population. When there is less pressure on a coyote family for food resource, the next litter of pups is usually larger, filling in the void balancing out the ecosystem. It would appear that man should not interfere.

See – The Natural History of the Urban Coyote  —-

“Coyotes are here to stay and removing them is not and will never be an option. Our one and only path forward is coexistence.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Mike Caswell

I live in Fairport, and my home is at The Oxbow section of The Erie Canal. I fish, have a pontoon boat and like messing in boats. (see www.mud-skipper.com). I'm retired and enjoy every day living here with my wife Carol and our two dogs.

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