Tuesday, December 8, 2009


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?


JC said...

Good Question ~ I lost my beloved Lilly Ann, cat in my profile, to either a coyote or a raccoon. Thus, we don't let our cats out anymore. I've lived here for 14 years. Due to the recent construction, which means the woods go away, the animals have come to my woods.

There are no cats that go out in my area.

I hear the coyotees but it's the raccoons that are terrible too.

South Valley Girl said...

Keep them inside - it's the only way to be sure. Coyotes are notoriously enterprising when it comes to getting into places we want to keep them out of, including fenced yards. Dogs might be okay (not your little one, but bigger sized), but cats are like hors d'oeuvre for coyotes, don't risk it.


Mar-Bear said...

A coyote will try to lure pets away from safety, so it`s important to keep a close eye on your babies, and never let them out alone and especially at night, as that seems to be the time they hunt.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Ever since we got llamas a few years ago, we don't have coyotes come onto our property as often, and never into our paddocks and pasture. But sometimes we hear them at night pretty close to the other side of our house where our fruit orchard is. And we've found scat underneath the trees, too.
Two months ago, we were sitting down to eat lunch and a coyote walked right up to our chicken coop which is just 12 feet from our kitchen windows. He stood there staring at our chickens until our GSD barked like mad, and then the coyote ran off.

Four months ago one of cats snuck outside and for 3 days we couldn't get him to come back inside. when he finally did we saw that he had injured his paw, from possibly evading a coyote attack when he climbed into a tree. He healed up and in two weeks that bugger snuck outside again. We never saw him again. :(

I appeciate your analogy of the coyote's hunting behaviors : "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."


Beth said...

We have lots of coyotes here---we hear them regularly and find their scat in our yard. But I also see lots of cats in our yard (some feral), so I'm thinking maybe our coyotes are dining mostly on the considerable rabbit population here, which I HAVE noticed a steady decline in.

That Bertie is so adorable---please don't let him out at night!

Susan said...

We are in actually just outside NYC and we have coyotes (and wild turkey, fox, deer, you name it, we got it...). Coyote sightings are common and people alert each other when they have seen them - cats are frequent victims but lately the coyotes have been getting much bigger too. The one I saw two weeks ago was wolf sized. I worry for my little dogs and I have stepped letting my 10 year old walk them up to the corner as there is an increase in daytime sightings as well as close encounters. They take down small deer, geese, it's alarming. I wish they would eat the skunks, also way too many.

Quiet Paths said...

A valid concern. I've heard more raccoon horror stories than coyote. We have coyotes here and it's sad but they get hunted mercilessly which isn't right.