October 28, 2009

Coyotes at home and away

"There's another one!" Smoke and Landshark Lu hold the fort.

I started this post [photo, title] at the cabin a month ago. It was a banner year for coyotes up the hill: the local population was booming and flourishing, thanks, some folks said, to a spike in rabbit numbers. "They [the coyotes, not the rabbits — rabbits would have been awesome] are snatching little dogs right off the leash," warned a friend. Seriously, dude.

I was alone in the tower when a huge pack of coyotes began arguing in the meadow [...] I took a photo of my face as the howling and growling was splitting the night air. It was so chilling hearing these sounds that it gave me goose flesh. [Bill Thompson III]

Down the hill in L.A. last month, two people were bitten by coyotes in Griffith Park, and eight coyotes were trapped and shot. Public outcry in 3... 2... 1...:
The howls that echoed through Griffith Park on Monday were coming from hikers, parents and nannies -- not coyotes.

Park visitors were furious with a decision to shoot coyotes in the 4,210-acre park following an encounter between a man and a coyote last week.

Eight animals were killed before the eradication effort ended at 10:50 p.m. Friday, said Kyle Orr, a spokesman for the California Department of Fish and Game.

Park visitors blasted the hunt as overkill. They blamed the problem on people who illegally feed coyotes.
At a child-friendly play area called Shane's Inspiration, a group of mothers watching their youngsters frolic were saddened by the coyote hunt.

"Killing them is silly. They were here first," Coralyn Peirson of Studio City said as she sat at a picnic table and watched her 2-year-old daughter, Emily. "Of course, if one of them carried off my baby, I'd probably feel differently."


In related news, Terrierman reported today that a young woman was killed by two coyotes in Cape Breton, Canada. Cape Breton! Their range is expanding, they are getting smarter by the minute, and we give them a hand, as in Griffith Park, by taking the stupid ones out of the gene pool. Amazing animals, coyotes.

I saw more coyotes in the mountains this year than ever. I saw them trot past the cabin at night and in in broad daylight. I listened to one holler under the windows at dusk. [Hear that? Scary loud. If a police car siren and a werewolf had a baby...] When I took the dogs outside last thing before bed, the coyotes watched from the shadows. They moved like ghosts, but you could see their eyes glowing. Nothing spectral about those eyes.

Smoke and Lu hate coyotes with the burning fire of a thousand angry suns. Lu puts every hair up from behind her ears to the base of her tail, barks ferociously, and charges. Smoke curls his tail over his back and makes a roar fit to wake the dead. He's a lean 63 lb these days and no, I've never turned him loose after a coyote. Too fond of my yearling pup.

I did have an awful scare at the cabin this fall when senior citizen Bounce, the best and dearest dog in the history of the universe, somehow slipped past me at the porch gate and took off after a coyote that Smoke and Lu had spotted in the buckthorn. Bounce has never had an entirely reliable recall [oh, who am I kidding (weeps). Bounce has no recall, period. She does whatever the hell she wants]. Her life flashed before my eyes. Bounce sailed after the coyote like a little white cannonball for about 40 feet — and then, wonder of wonders, she reversed course and ran back up the porch steps! Ten years off my life.

Hasta luego, coyotes
Wolves, Coyotes and LGDs

Coyote Attacks: An Increasing Suburban Problem


Bill Fosher said...

The time to be most worried is when that rabbit population crashes and there are bazillions of _hungry_ coyotes in the parks of LA. Perhaps by then Emily Pierson will be old enough to run for her life, but I doubt she'll be able to outrun a coyote.

I won't go into one of my speculative jaunts about the differences between Eastern and Western coyotes, except to say that your little guys are much more prone to the booms and busts associated with small prey than ours, which have been known to hunt in packs and take down moose. But they are not red wolves. Oh, no.

Luisa said...

I think Fish & Game should trap the offending coyotes and release them in areas with lots of feral cats. Win/win, if you ask me, but that's a whole nother post.

Smart Dogs said...

If problems continue, do you suppose local politicians will propose legislation to ban coyotes and all other 'substantially similar' canids?