Friday, November 2, 2012

The Slaughter and Survival of Coyotes



One of the main characters in COYOTE WINDS is a coyote pup who is rescued and tamed after being half-blinded by a dust storm. If you have doubts whether a coyote can be tamed, please check out  www.dailycoyote.net.

Coyotes are an incredible success story considering how many people have tried to eliminate them. They live throughout North and Central America, including our suburbs and cities. They have been found in New York City.  

In Chicago, urban coyotes are being studied to help control rats. http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/chicago-using-gps-collared-coyotes-to-control-rodents.html.

Weighing between 20 and 50 pounds, coyotes can run up to 40 miles per hour and jump 13 feet. They hear better than dogs and have adapted well to living alongside humans, unlike the wolf. Desert and prairie coyotes, like the coyote in my novel, are generally smaller and lighter colored than northern and mountain coyotes.

Coyotes communicate with a vocabulary of yips, yelps and howls. This little guy puts on quite a show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UbHeTPwWBbk. Also check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAIjGVCFdFI.

Coyotes eat primarily mice, rats, gophers and other small animals, and they play an important role in controlling rodent populations. They also eat fruit, vegetables, carrion, garbage, lizards, grasshoppers and other insects, pretty much anything they can find. In small packs (called bands), coyotes have been seen hunting large animals such as elk.

Unfortunately coyotes also attack sheep, calves, hens, cats, and small dogs. There are reports of them attacking people, although the attacks are rare considering how many coyotes live among us. As a result, coyotes are trapped, poisoned, and hunted in huge numbers. I read one report that the Federal Government kills approximately 90,000 coyotes each year in an effort to reduce livestock losses. This practice is controversial, and a number of organizations are trying to stop this slaughter, especially since it has not been shown to be effective. If you are interested, here are some links. I should warn you that some of the photographs and stories of trapped animals are heartbreaking.




Many people go out of their way to help injured and stranded coyotes. Check out at this clip of the Chicago Fire Department rescuing a coyote drifting on a small slab on ice in the middle of Lake Michigan: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=727EZwZxsSs.

If you are interested in helping coyotes, search on the internet for coyote rescue sites. There may be one near you. 

Project Coyote has a great website aimed at educating people about coyotes and fostering co-existence.  They include links to educational materials, books and films.  I strongly recommend a visit to http://www.projectcoyote.org/index.html

Two great books about coyotes: 

            Ryden, Hope, God’s Dog. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc., 1975, 2005, and

            Stockton, Shreve, The Daily Coyote. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008. (Shreve Stockton also has a wonderful website about Charlie, her coyote which she adopted when he was ten days old.  www.dailycoyote.net.)



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