Eastern Coyotes

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I had a chance encounter with a Coyote on January 17,  a week after a controversial wildlife hunting (predator killing) contest took place. The day after I processed my coyote photo, there were pictures in the local papers of piles of dead predators, mostly foxes. These contests occur statewide and appear to be rooted in the rapid increase in the coyote population in New York State. My training is in natural resources ecology and management; I hunt; I’m an advocate of scientific management (best management practices) of natural resources, including harvest. I also believe that the harvest of wildlife must be carried out in a thoughtful, responsible manner, with great respect for the animals involved. A contest with assigned point values for species, culminating in prize money and publicity, is a reversal of over a hundred years of blood, sweat and tears in the conservation movement. Many feel as I do, and legislation has been introduced into the state Assembly to prohibit events like this.

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Adult Eastern Coyote; hunting for mice and voles on an abandoned farm (just prior to the photo its head was buried in the hole in the snow near its back legs) 17Jan15

In “Rise of the Eastern Coyote” (NYS Conservationist magazine, June, 2014), Dan Bogan, Ph.D., presents a very interesting and informative summary of the history and status of the coyote in New York State. Since arriving here from Canada in the late 1930s, coyotes have rapidly acclimated to human environments and filled the niche once occupied by the Gray Wolf (extinct in New York State for over 100 years). According to Bogan, these new canids are unique predators: about 64% western coyote, 26% wolf and 10% domestic dog. From an ecological point of view, this is exciting! We have a rare opportunity to study, first-hand, the evolution of a new species or subspecies and the rapid expansion of a population of large predators into a man-made world. .

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Adult Eastern Coyote, as above

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

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13 thoughts on “Eastern Coyotes

  1. Oh my goodness, he is so cute! But how can something so cute seem so menacing? I’m so excited for you that you were able to be in his presence, and glad he ran the other way. Good Coyote!

    Great to meet a naturalist that has common sense and understands balance. Thanks Nick!

    • Appreciate the nice comments Emily. It’s not unusual to see or hear coyotes in this area. But, finding one within reach, in the open, hunting in late morning sunlight? well, that’s priceless!!!

  2. Wonderful shots Nick. How close were you? One of my favorite animals, the coyote. They really are to be admired for their adaptability and resourcefulness. They have those hunts around here too. Not something I want to be around nor do I think they are useful in controlling populations. I have read that when there is a lot of hunting or trapping pressure on coyotes they have larger litters. Not sure of the science there. Anyway great post.

    • Thanks Alison. I saw the coyote from the road and managed to pull over and stop without being detected. Distance was roughly 90-100 meters. Much to my disappointment, it stopped mousing when I shut the truck off, looked at me for a split second, then ran. I was leaning awkwardly across the seat, shooting offhand out the passenger-side window… As I told another blogger, I often hear coyotes at night and see their tracks, but a late morning shot of one hunting in bright sunlight, within range, is a rare thrill. You’re absolutely right about the biological response of animals to population reduction – a half century+ of research into predator-prey relations proves it, and that is one reason I find this particular practice so disgusting. This is a complex issue without a simple solution. Management should address specific problems with target-specific control measures. E.g. A local herd of about 30 deer in a farm/swamp habitat is comprised almost entirely of adult does— without fawns — due to heavy coyote predation on newborns; some coyotes are adapting to urban life and preying on domestic pets; Etc.

  3. Nick-
    A sense of anger and feeling sick to my stomach is the reaction I continually feel when I hear of the predator-massacres you describe. They occur out here in Idaho. The key point you make is respect and thoughtful management. I can’t even imagine the mentality of “hunters” who participate in such ruthless carnage… that behavior should be a crime… especially in light of animal census data released by the WWF that revealed a near 50% drop in Earth’s wildlife since 1970…
    When will they ever learn?
    ~Jane

  4. Gorgeous shots of this lovely creature. We seem to be losing ground with thoughtful and considerate conservation efforts these days. I’ve been following the adventures of the reintroduced wolf who traveled from Yellowstone into Oregon to California and back to Oregon where he found a mate. No one seems to know where the female appeared from, but they have pups. But then there’s been open season on the wolves outside the boundaries of Yellowstone. Seems some folks just don’t get it.

    • Thanks Gunta. That’s an interesting story on the reintroduced wolf. Many humans seem to be hard wired to fear and eliminate large predators; coexistence is not an option. The science seems to go in one ear and out the other, with no stop in between. Coyotes and wolves have been persecuted for centuries – trapped, poisoned, shot – no holds barred.

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