Wildlife in Focus: Coyote

Recently David Phipps of Stone Creek GC posted on his blog some pics and a video (can be seen below) of a Coyote that has been visiting the course lately. This got me thinking about Coyotes and how Turfhugger should be providing more wildlife centered posts, so I contact Janet Kessler of www.coyoteyipps.com.

Janet graciously agreed to explain some of her experience with these amazing animals, including photo's too! Check out Janet's blog, it has an incredible amount of helpful information on Coyotes.

Coyotes have moved into urban areas. They gravitate towards dense protective thickets and overgrown underbrush areas, often adjacent to open fields where they can hunt -- a golf course would serve this purpose for them. Coyotes are native animals. Everyone should feel thrilled to have this wildlife around -- it means that we’ve allowed the environment to remain healthy. They themselves control rodents and contribute to keeping the ecosystem balanced. 
Although coyotes can be seen out and about at all hours, you will most likely see them at dawn and dusk, hunting alone or sometimes in small family groups. Like all of us, they are making a living as best they can: bringing in food, looking after their families, avoiding danger. Their families are tight-knit -- members care for each other and closely interact. Stop and watch them -- but without interfering!
They’ll jump high, kicking their heels in the air as they land on a gopher or vole. They’ll jump into a tree to catch a squirrel. They’ll carry prey a long distance to feed their young, or bury it for later use. If they feel safe, they’ll relax in a field and watch activity from the distance -- they, like us, have time for entertainment. I’ve seen one playing with a golf ball: the inner core of rubber bands snapped the coyote on the nose, at which point, for the coyote, the ball became “live prey” to contend with. You may hear coyotes howl, sometimes along with fire engine sirens -- these joyful yelps make an unusual chorus -- if you hear it, you will be affected by “the call of the wild”. So, these are things to look and listen for. 
Coexistence takes just a little bit of effort. Your reward for learning and respecting their needs will be the ability to appreciate wildlife right in your own urban or suburban setting without having to trek all the way to Africa on a safari! What coyotes do not like is being chased by dogs: dogs actually pose a threat to a coyote’s territoriality: coyotes have definite territorial areas which they consider their own and which they might defend from a dog especially during pupping season which begins in March. Please keep dogs away from coyotes and leashed in these areas.

The worst thing any of us can do is feed a coyote: “a fed coyote is a dead coyote”. Feeding them causes them to lose fear and become aggressive. They will be safest and healthiest if we enjoy them at a distance and if we all make a strong concerted effort to keep them wild. This involves also maintaining wild overgrown areas of habitat for them. Please keep all pet food indoors so as not to attract coyotes into yard areas, and all small pets should always be leashed or kept indoors. An injured animal may act aggressively, so please report such an animal to your humane society. And please spread the good word about coyotes!

all photos are copyright, Janet Kessler, and may be used only with her permission
For more information please visit www.coyoteyipps.com.

1 Comments so far

Janet Kessler is the Jane Goodall of San Francisco's coyotes. Her minutely observed blog is quite amazing. I've been a fan for a while.

At a recent meeting with San Francisco's Dept of the Environment, I was pleased to learn they are using *no* pesticides (or herbicides) at Sharp Park Golf Course and are moving in that direction with Lincoln Golf Course, too. This would certainly help make it healthy habitat.