CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE COYOTE KIND -BY KIM SMITH

East Gloucester Friends,

Please be on alert for a pair of very bold coyotes in the neighborhood. Over the weekend I was standing with a group of photographer friends and we were noticing the coyotes along the edge of a field. The coyotes ducked behind the shrubby growth and soon after, my friends left. I became distracted and forgot about the coyotes while photographing a chatty little Downy Woodpecker. Without warning, the coyotes were suddenly quite near, within twenty feet. I yelled and clapped loudly, which did not in the least intimidate one of the pair. The smaller trotted a few steps back toward the woodland edge while the larger one started to dig in the ground, similar to a bull marking his territory. It was more than a little eerie, and while yelling I began to walk backwards off the field.

When a gentleman came to the field to walk his dog, the coyotes headed back towards the shrubs. Reappearing a few minutes later, they had circled around in the shrubs and began to stalk the leashed dog. I walked towards the man to give the coyotes the idea that we were a group and they didn’t come any closer after that. This post is not meant to alarm anyone, but to let you know that we have some very hungry coyotes in our midst; I had the oddest sensation that they had an expectation of dinner. I sure do hope no one is feeding them.

The bolder coyote is on the left in the above photo. You can see in the middle photo in the first row that the bolder one’s coat is darker (also on the left).

32 thoughts on “CLOSE ENCOUNTER OF THE COYOTE KIND -BY KIM SMITH

    1. I did an unwise thing, turning my back. I should have remembered that they circled around me once before when i was walking alone on a beach. There was a dead creature on the beach to which it was trying to return.

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  1. Gorgeous images and animals. It’s mating season. Photographers and dog walkers should probably give them more space? It would prevent these territorial encounters. Seems like this might have been more of a territorial thing than a “hungry coyote” thing.

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    1. Thank you Nancy, yes they are beautiful and thank you for pointing out it is mating season 🙂

      I think if I were in a remote area and were infringing on their private territory, but folks should be able to walk their neighborhood and on the beach without being stalked. My worry is that folks are feeding the coyotes, which is training them to equate people with food.

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  2. nice pictures. It’s too bad that man had taken over so much land and taken away nature’s habitat. If we continue to build our mansions we will be seeing a lot more wildlife in our socialized habitat.

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    1. Thank you Amy, so surprised to get some good images, the light was so low and they were blending so well with the background. That is true, the Western Coyote began its great migration east and south as a result of habitat loss in western states. As it moved eastward, it bred with a few Gray and Red Wolves and also domestic dogs. Coyotes furthest south have the greatest percentage of dog DNA. Coyotes no longer need to breed with wolves or dogs because there are plenty of coyotes around–species will choose to breed with one of their own kind.

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  3. Just had a very similar encounter in my yard in Beverly. One coyote, but he refused to leave until I drove my car right up to him, fast. Looked well fed and absolutely fearless. Not good.

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  4. Unfortunately, no good is going to come out of this live and let live approach, for either the coyotes or people. We humans seem to swing wildly in our approaches to such things – from eradicating the creatures in the 1800s to giving the protected status. We don’t think twice about calling the exterminator to help us get rid of mice in our home. Yet, who is to say that they don’t deserve protection? A Buddhist might say they do. And, after all, these mice are a major source of food for these coyotes. Yes they are beautiful. But only to our subjective eyes. For everyone’s safety, they need to be taken out by professionals.

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    1. Those vests look like a great in helping to thwart a coyote attack Richard, thank you for sharing the link!

      I have mixed thoughts about this as well. Folks back in the 1800s did not decide one day they were going to eradicate all wolves–the wolves became extirpated from our increasingly populated region because the wolves killed farmer’s livestock–chickens, sheep, etc. that they depended upon for their survival. There were fewer deer for the wolves to hunt, too, which is another reason they moved further west. There is a great deal to think about. Today coyotes eat peoples pets and chickens. For most people in urban areas raising chickens is more of a hobby than a livelihood, so there is greater tolerance in allowing this to continue.

      Few people talk about the explosion of Lyme disease in our region, which correlates directly with the explosion of coyotes. More coyotes = fewer fox. Fewer fox = more White-footed Mice and Chipmunks, the greatest vectors of Lyme.

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  5. January is mating time for coyotes…with pups to arrive in c. 2 months. I do not know the size of the dog the man was walking, BUT they are relatives and therefore territorial competitors. IF the dog were small–it was more likely s/he was being considered as lunch. I HEART coyotes!!! Thank you Kim for, as usual, great pics!!!

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  6. It was Hemingway’s opinion that the pawing of the ground was a sign of fear by the bull because he is embedding dirt between his cloven hoof and the finish of each pawing of the ground was to release that dirt over his head indirectly flinging at the scary situation in front of him. It should be viewed as fear not aggression

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    1. I used the pawing of ground description to describe the action. I was not equating the mental actions of a coyote to that of bull. That behavior could make sense for a bull, but the larger coyote was not afraid. I forgot to mention that he lay down in the spot he had just pawed. The smaller coyote exhibited fear for a sort period of time while I was clapping and yelling, but both returned, clearly not signaling fear on their part.

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  7. Thanks for pointing that out Lois, that mating season has begun, good to know. Medium-sized dog, but that doesn’t explain why when I turned my back they were suddenly quite close. I stand very still when photographing, but they had seen me moving a few minutes earlier. Anyway, not taking that route for awhile 🙂

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    1. You should never turn your back on them if they’ve seen you, or especially run. You will trigger their prey response.

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    1. Yes, but will the coyotes be there? Seriously, there was one lying under a large bush in our yard. We have no trash, no pet food outside, etc. we ended up cutting down the bush to next to nothing. It’s time for people to push back on this “ how to avoid interactions” when they’re relaxing in the shade in you’re yard.

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      1. I’ve heard various experts say if coyote is passing through your yard, that’s normal, but if they are lingering, you should haze them. You can march straight toward it while waving and yelling.

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        1. I am pushing my local reps to allow some sort of mace/pepper spray, especially for joggers. It is apparently illegal in MA ( no online stores will ship to MA ). Can’t even get a slingshot. My wife is a jogger and can’t throw a golf ball hard enough ( or accurately enough ) to possibly scare off a female defending pups. Hazing is not a long term solution, they will adapt to that too.. Multiple years of marksmen hunters are what’s needed. I’m sorry to say that, but it’s gone too far.

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  8. Where observation and awareness counts – there is so much that way it’s hard not to get distracted by the beauty that sounds you and they do look very healthy indeed…coyotes. Think there will be more interactions in the future too some pro/some con! Dave

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