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EcoSF
Coyote Couple Comes Calling 
22nd-Feb-2010 11:15 am
Coyote Bite
So yesterday, just as dusk was falling, it gradually penetrated my consciousness (I was working at this machine) that my two standard poodles were throwing a fit out in the yard. They throw a lot of fits, but there was a frenzied note to this one, so I grabbed the binoculars and went to the kitchen window. And there, strolling bold as brass between the house and the garden fence, was a gigantic coyote, as indifferent to the dogs and their racket as if they'd been a couple of sparrows chirping prettily. (Every coyote I've seen from the house has disdainfully ignored the hysterical dogs.) This one was as big and bulky as a German shepherd, and besides his size there was something about him that said "male." He had a slight limp in his left hind leg, but not enough of one to prevent him from stalking, pouncing on, and consuming what I assumed to be a small rodent, while I watched. Nor was he bothered by being observed; he glanced at the house, where he could certainly see me at the lighted window. Then he kind of stood around for a bit, then wheeled and cut across the driveway and down a slope into the pasture on the other side, and I came out on the deck.

The dogs' hysteria didn't abate one bit when he disappeared from view; they knew he hadn't gone anywhere. About a minute later all three of us were startled/silenced by a loud howl--instantly answered by another identical howl from the other side of the house. I swiveled around and saw a second coyote following the tree line up the hill toward the house. Through the binocs I saw she was a beauty, younger and slimmer than her mate, with white markings on her face. It was obvious they were communicating: I'm here, where are you? Right here! (I'm not sure how the details of age and gender came across but suspect it has to do with my deep attunement to this farm.)

The dogs were racing around the yard going nuts. The second coyote trotted off in the direction of the first, and I'm thinking, TWO coyotes, a mated pair, the first time in ten years I've seen two together. Also, Am I glad I insisted on that six-foot fence around the dogs' yard!

The coyotes left, I called the dogs in. End of story, I hope.

But Fleece and Feste and I have a history of close encounter with a single male coyote on this farm (see my post from May 2, 2009). One dog was bitten and the other chased, with deadly intent in both cases. Ever since, I've kept them on lead or in full view. But I take this as a warning. Had both members of this pair been present at the encounter last May, both dogs would have been killed. Fleece, my white female, weighs almost as much as an eastern coyote, 46 pounds to his 50 or so, but there the comparison ends. Check out the userpic, which will have to do since I'm too cheap to upgrade my account to show you the full-size gory details. The coyote tried to hamstring her. I took this after the vet had cleaned her up and stapled the bite wound.

Coyotes belong on this farm, but I appreciate the message: Stay sharp or else!
Comments 
15th-Mar-2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
Wow. A thrill to see them I am sure but , like you said, a warning too. I saw a lot of coyotes in Texas and heard them too..but I haven't seen or heard a single one since being here in PA although the locals say they are around. Last spring we heard what we think was a Bobcat...but, of course, never saw it. Keep your eyes open and your dogs close! ( :
15th-Mar-2010 10:13 pm (UTC)
Hi again! The Texas version of coyote is much smaller than these eastern (including PA) ones, which are the size of German shepherds. But the ki-yi singing is about the same. I had NEVER heard a howl like that though--more wolf than dog or coyote, and there's some speculation that the eastern subspecies has interbred with wolves on its way east. That would explain the size. We're supposed to have bobcats too, but probably only in the mountains.
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