No, I am NOT available for lunch!
I've been doing a little research on coyotes, because this is the perfect area for them. There are lots of trees and lots of pecans on the ground, and therefore lots of tree and ground squirrels, which I imagine make delicious meals for hungry coyotes.
We've heard the coyotes twice now at night, howling away. Back east, I was told that a coyote (or pack) will work its way around its hunting range every three days or so. Or was it every week or so? I wish I could remember. We first heard them last Tuesday night, and then again on the following Sunday night. We will keep track to see how often we are aware of their presence.
Of course, they could be right here all the time, I suppose, and not just roaming through.
Our concern is for our smaller pets--the cats and the chihuahuas. The information that I find says to be sure to have a fence, to keep small animals inside from dusk to dawn, to accompany small pets when they must be outside after dark, and to keep the yard well lit at night. We do all of these things, but it has occurred to me that I have personally seen coyotes hunting during the day on several occasions:
1. At the Bosque del Apache, near Socorro, NM, we watched a family of coyotes stalking and leaping on mice in a field during the forenoon. We were some distance away and watched through binoculars.
2. At our home in New Hampshire in the late afternoon, I looked out the window over the kitchen sink and saw a huge animal (more wolf-sized) emerge from the woods at the edge of a field; move like a cat toward its prey; leap; grab the cat-sized animal by the back of the neck and give it one strong shake. That apparently broke its neck and it hung limply from the jaws of the coyote/wolf, which trotted back in the woods with it. We later realized that the prey must have been a woodchuck, as there was a burrow nearby at that end of the field.
The whole incident took place very quickly and was done very efficiently, and it reminded me of a housewife looking over a display of meat in a supermarket, reaching out and making her choice, then picking it up and putting it into her grocery basket and rolling it away. It was done just about that fast.
3. I saw a much smaller and rather ill-looking coyote eating from a deer carcass on the side of the road in the same New Hampshire town. This was during mid-afternoon, and was during a time when rabies was working its way through the local wild animal population. I wondered at the time if that was what was making the coyote look so sick and also if that was why he was out during the daytime.
4. I watched a small and very brazen coyote walk along the backyard walls in the development where my mother lived outside San Diego, just before our dinner hour. My mom said that there weren't any outside cats left in the neighborhood, as the coyotes had gotten them all.
So, I have a couple of questions for you. What do you know about coyote hunting habits in your area? Do you have advice on keeping pets safe?