After reading this excellent book, which explains why coyotes, after decades of being shot, poisoned, trapped and otherwise despised, have maintained a steady population that now includes living in many America cities like Albuquerque, I’ve decided to forego the usual review. Instead, I’m just going to recommend it highly and then mention a few of my own interactions with these curious canines. A pair of them live in and near Anderson Farm, the 700-acre alfalfa farm that I walk around. They think they own it.
- One morning, the larger coyote started barking at me. It sounded like a small poodle, but the bark carried quite a distance. “Get out of my field!” It seemed to be saying. What was my reaction? I barked back at it, of course. Watch and listen here:
- It was overcast and gently raining when I watched a young coyote following a mother raccoon and her four nearly grown youngsters. What was he thinking? Were those the first raccoons he’d ever seen? They disappeared into the woods, but a likely scenario was this:
- I spent about ten minutes watching a coyote attempt to sneak up on a small flock of five or six sandhill cranes that were eating what little alfalfa was left in the nearly barren field. The cranes stand four feet tall and have great eyesight. No animal can get near them. The coyote got about thirty feet from them and they flew about a hundred feet away and the process started all over again!
- But I did find evidence that the coyotes had caught and eaten a snowy egret. They ambushed it by jumping it when it was at the bottom of a drain and they were above it on the sides. I found white feathers in the water in the drain, and what has left of its carcass in the alfalfa field.
- Some neighboring farmers keep sheep and goats and apparently the coyotes were successful on a raid and killed a kid of the goat variety. That’s why I encountered a guy with a scoped rifle hiding as well as he could in the field. “Any luck?” I asked him and he shook his head. Now this field is huge but surrounding it are other farms, houses, and even a Walmart. I thought about telling the guy that it was dangerous to shoot rifles because of the neighbors, but I didn’t. After all, he had the gun.
- I often see coyotes trotting down the street where we life and the author of Coyote America notes in the book that only about 2% of urban coyotes’ diet is house pets. But Malcolm, the 25-pound cat who belonged to Marti and T.J. Lelko, was one of that two percent. One night he refused to come into the house and Marti couldn’t catch him. The next morning there was evidence of a scuffle on their back porch and all they found of Malcolm was the tip of his yellow tail. They are convinced a pack of coyotes got him.