Hellooooooooo! Welcome back. Sorry for my absence. Life got pretty crazy ever since my wife Angie broke her foot on the first day of Spring. All the more reason I share this blog now, since it was her last outing with me (for a while anyway) on the last day of winter.
March 19th Angie and I had an encounter with 2, but quite possibly 3 Coyotes. We had decided to go for a walk at dusk, the "golden hour" as some call it. It was a pleasant evening, the very last official day of winter. It had been sunny much of the day and +5 Celsius. Although I'd been unwell all weekend, the thought of fresh air and possibly some wildlife sightings enticed me. For Angie, it was getting a good walk in, getting her steps, and perhaps seeing a few birds and whatever wildlife presented itself to us.
First sight as we started our walk.
The animals stayed atop the hill. One kept an eye on us even though we were quite a distance away.
While the other looked on elsewhere.
This is their first light, as brief as it will be. They probably took in the last warm rays of the sun before the cold night set in.
All I can say is that it was an amazing sight to see these creatures. Of course the camera side of me wished for something much closer, getting some kick ass photos, but the nature side of me embraced this because it's not very often that I see Coyotes, especially more than 1. Most Coyote encounters of mine have been accidental. Quick views, I don't have the camera ready, and before I know it the animal has disappeared. So seeing these two taking in their morning atop this hill was very peaceful and I was quite grateful to witness it.
We continued our walk that had barely begun, heading away from the animals.
Then, X amount of time later, heading back, we saw a possible third elsewhere.
Another crop job just like some of the previous shots. There was actually a fence between us as well which added to the challenge of getting a photo. This could have been an amazing photo without the fence, without the distance, but I'm good with that because it was an amazing encounter.
When I share Coyote sightings on social media, most people are just happy about my encounter. Some do ask for locations to hopefully experience this as well and some want to know just to avoid the area because they are fearful of these creatures especially when walking their dogs or taking their kids out. It's the fear bit that I'd like to touch upon.
Why be afraid?
Sure a Coyote is a wild animal. It is a predator, and a smart one at that (never mind those Road Runner cartoons).
You live in your home. The outdoors, that is theirs.
It is my belief that respect must be given to all wildlife and their home(s). Coyotes won't come out and attack a human, adult or child. Like most wild animals, it would rather take the high road and keep clear of us. Leave the animals be, don't chase them because you will never catch up to them. Don't mess with their "children". A human would totally lash out and probably get quite aggressive with another who messed with their kids. Why think it's wrong for a parent animal to do the same?
Really it's just common sense. It's mind blowing how some lack this even in the slightest.
Reports of Coyotes biting humans involved scenarios where people habituated the animals, feeding them from their back doors basically and then taking that one step too close, trying to hand feed the animals. Whether the bite was intentional or not, in the end, it's that animal who loses. A reported Coyote bite lands the animal becoming a specific target, being shot and tested for rabies. The person may get a scolding for interacting with these animals as they did, and probably a round of rabies vaccinations. Some would learn from the experience while others unfortunately would gain a hatred for the animals.
Unintentional bites can happen when hand feeding any animals. I've been nipped by a few overly excited Squirrels in my day. It hurt like hell but it was me, putting my fingers holding the food towards the mouth of the animal. Sure I might call them "a little bastard" in the moment but I know it was my fault.
Another scenario is a person trying to save their pet from the clutches of a Coyote. This is why I am a firm believer in not letting cats roam freely outdoors and keeping your dogs on leash when out in the wild. The smaller the dog, the greater the risk. Keep the leash short. Or better yet, avoid areas where Coyotes are known to be seen. Usually there are signs posted either by the city or even handmade ones from locals which I have seen near our home. Some are almost laughable but the point is made. I am almost tempted to stop this blog momentarily and go to where I have seen one of these handmade signs posted and take a photo of it. NOTE: I started this blog days ago. Last night I went to where one of the signs had been on a post in a nearby neighbourhood for months. That sign is gone. In it's place is a sign of a missing cat now. True story! I will leave it at that.
It's not just Coyotes you have to worry about taking your pets. We heard one horrific tale of a Great Horned Owl taking a person's small dog when it was off leash out in the wild north of us. I've heard and even know someone who had their pet rabbit attacked by a Red-tailed Hawk. My friend's rabbit survived but with a vet bill attached, others not so lucky.
Don't take it personally, to the animals, these are just food sources and nothing else.
Cornering a Coyote, much like any wild animal, can be a cause for you to get bit. Why a person would want to do this, or how they could, is unimaginable to me.
Honestly, animals are very much like people. Put yourself in any situation instead of the animal; what would you do? I use this same analogy when it comes to photographing wildlife, especially sensitive species or situations like nesting birds.
I've found the only two recorded cases where Coyotes have actually killed a human in North America. Click on the links to get the full stories.
First was a 3 year old in Southern California back in 1981.
Second was a 19 year old Canadian country folk singer from Toronto, killed in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.
The second incident hits closer to home, not because she was a Canadian and born in the same city as me; but because she loved nature and was on a nature walk. They list some possible reasons as to why this happened but in the end it remains a mystery.
As terrifying as both these attacks were, they are the ONLY two known cases where this species of animal has killed a human being. Now, for random attacks that ended in cuts, gashes, stitches, rabies shots, etc is considerably longer if you check this Wikipedia link. This is just information. This is NOT to spread fear. The list of incidents don't give too much info overall, I am sure there was much more to each individual story.
My actual Coyote encounters overall, I can probably count on two hands. If there was a total of 10, 8 were from respectable distances because I can think of only 2 really close encounters. One time a Coyote cut across a path right in front of me and never stopped even for a moment. The other time, similar scenario, I'm walking a path, a Coyote cut onto the path right in front of me, it was walking the same direction as me and continued on ahead, taking very little notice to me. Of course I'm like "damn, I want a photo of his face" but what can I do? Just enjoy the moment, consider myself lucky to see such an animal in my day time walk and be happy with it.
Here is a rare "face to face" moment with one recently. Intimidating stance and glare but there was easily 100 ft between us and the animal. Then in the blink of an eye, quickly disappeared into the field, not to be seen again.
The last few Springs I've heard Coyotes yelping in the hydro field near our home. I've been in the backyard after dark when the calling has started. It was exciting to hear. Early on in this past winter, I was out looking for Screech Owls after dark, and got to hear some Coyotes really belting it out in a golf course across the Humber River from me. It was very loud. It was a tad spooky since I was in the dark other than my head lamp. I knew they were across the river which ended any uneasy feeling I may have had. It would be my lack of experience and understanding of these animals that would set in the uneasy feelings.
Here is a great YouTube link to some Coyote yelping after dark. As they state in the video, please take notice to the reactions of your pets. I played this rather low, one of our cats ignored it completely, while the other's ears went flat and soon ran out of the room.
I'm just a guy who loves nature. I'm not a scientist. I'm not a behavioral analyst. Some people say I am a bit of a whisperer but I call it some good fortune with wonderful encounters of all kinds of wildlife. I've always been respectful. I'm in their house and I don't forget that. I hope people act in similar fashion. If you are fearful of these animals, then just don't tread where they may be.