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Friday, November 14, 2008

The Coyote, An Unwelcome Neighbor

We were sitting at the breakfast table on Sunday morning when an unusual sight appeared from the wooded area in the back of our yard. We watched as this dog-like apparition glided from the woods and crept across the grass. It was a coyote and it wasn't a welcome sight to my eyes. As a father of two small children I could only think of the dangers it presented to our family. I snatched my camera to take these two shots which are zoomed in and are very poor quality since I didn't have time to change to the telephoto lens. After taking the shots I wasted no time and chased it off. I wanted the coyote to know that he wasn't welcome here.

Coyotes don't present much of a danger to people but they have been known to attack small children. Generally they subsist on small rodents and berries found in the woods but have no aversion to snatching small, sick, young or old farm animals.

This particular coyote has a mottled coat and could be a mix of a domesticated dog and a coyote, the truth is I don't know enough to know for sure. It walked with its tail between its legs, which is a sure sign of coyote blood. This furry pest was probably (and hopefully) just passing through. Coyotes have migrated over the years into the eastern states searching for food and may be hunted at any time of the year in Tennessee to help prevent their numbers from increasing. The main predators of coyotes are mountain lions, wolves, and man-kind. In the absence of the first two the last one has to step in and manage the population.



12 comments :

  1. We have a bunch of them here too. I hear them frequently in the farmers field out back. They don't seem to bother humans or pets that I have heard of. I actually think of them like the foxes-rodent killers and helper of the gardener.

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  2. Tina,

    I'd much rather have foxes! Coyotes are larger and a bit more aggressive. While they generally run away from adults, it's the kids I'm worried about. They are watched constantly when outdoors but the "you never know" factor pops up. You never know when the coyote is going to show up, when it will attack, when it will run, or if it has rabies.

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  3. Dave,

    It is always smart to keep an eye on our little ones when coyotes or stray dogs are near. I do think that coyotes are far more likely to attack small pets. While kids are far more likely to get bitten by a dog (30,000 a year) then attacked by a coyote. There have only been 30 human attacks in all of recorded history. A tiny number compared to dog bites. We have had this discussion on our neighborhood listserv so I am up on the latest statistics. They do carry off small dogs and cats...you should see the missing pet signs all over the place. I would be cautious; life for these predators has changed and who knows what they are capable of doing when they are hungry or diseased.

    Gail

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  4. Gail,

    I saw those statistics and those in California and you're right a dog bite from the family pet is more common but a lot of that has to do with how much more time people spend with dogs. The odds are much smaller but I'm not one who usually gambles. OK I have bought a lottery ticket a couple times! Still they are wild animals, and when foxes will jump up and bite a jogger and hang on for a mile I don't want to take any chances with a coyote! ;)

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  5. Not something that have ever seen in my neck of the woods. That would scare the heck out of me. I don't have small children anymore but I do have a cat & small dog that frequent our yard.

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  6. Dave,

    I agree Dave, I would be cautious... they are your babies!
    Now that I think about it, statistics are the most comforting to statisticians!

    I was stopped by the lawn service guy next door and he told me that armadillos are now here. Wildlife on the march!

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  7. Racquel,

    They will probably head that way eventually, keep an ear out!

    Gail,

    I think the coyotes like to eat armadillos. There might be a connection...

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  8. Oh yikes. Coyotes are scary, but I know they are very common in TN. I hear about them eating kittens and other small animals all the time. Keep your adorable daughters away. I hope he doesn't come back.

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  9. I have seen coyotes passing through our yard as well. Our neighbor looked out his window to see a coyote taking his Jack Russell dog off into the woods. He ran out and went towards the coyote while screaming and it dropped the dog and the dog, which was named Skeeter, (good name dont ya think?)and Skeeter survived! She only had puncture wounds in her sides and was up to date on rabies shots. Skeeter shied of big dogs ever since.

    I hear them sometimes at night and it is a bit eerie when they are howling and barking as they are in a pack and about to jump something to eat. They circle the wagon so to speak when in a group and attack from all sides! I think they get baby deer in the woods in the spring also. Our residence bunnies have all disappeared by mid summer also….

    I would keep my eyes on the girls at all times because coyotes are light on their feet and quick like a fox…

    I have never seen one molting like that before. Probably is a mix… We often see coyotes dead on the interstate that runs through our county.

    You need to be on guard this time of year with the deer also. Rutting season can make a Buck do crazy things. A guy here a few years ago was attacked by one while he was working in his yard! A rutting Buck may see anything as competition. I worry about our windows in the sunroom as they reflect…

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  10. Hi Dave, ooh, that's a little scary! I saw one in our backyard this spring. Something told me not to let our dog out, and when I went outside and saw a coyote in the wooded area way in the back of our yard, I was glad I trusted my gut! My dog's big, but it still could have been a bad situation. You're wise to be careful with your children knowing a coyote could be roaming around.

    A friend of mine had a little Maltese dog. He was the sweetest little thing, tiny though - not more than 4 or 5 pounds. One night last winter my friend took his dog out on a leash right by his back door. A coyote came out of nowhere and grabbed the poor little thing, took off with him, leash and all, even though his owner was holding the leash and was within three feet of his dog.

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  11. I saw a couple of coyotes while walking in Habersham many years ago. It took me awhile to figure out what they were also. We can hear them here at night and worry when we can't get the cats in at night.

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  12. How fortunate you are to get a glimpse of our wildlife! This coyote appears to have a case of mange, hence the uneven patches of coat. It is always wise to be careful wih small pets and young children whereever wild creatures are around, but attacks on humans are very rare.

    I did want to address one statement in particular "It walked with its tail between its legs, which is a sure sign of coyote blood." Actually, any canine, including the domestic variety, will adopt that posture when anxious or frightened. It is not an indicator of the creature's identity. It looks like an ordinary coyote with an extraordinary amount of mange. No need to fear it. Just enjoy seeing it and teach your children to respect and enjoy other creatures.

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