Tag Archives: coyote

While we quarantine, some animals take to the streets, some get lonely, and a panda may get pregnant

As we keep to our homes more and more, wildlife is coming into the city to explore. Luckily for us, there’s always a camera nearby to capture such moments for “d’awws” and “aawws” on social media.

But not all animals are enjoying themselves equally. With zoos shutting their gates to the public, and amid growing concern that staff could unwittingly infect them, some zoo animals are starting to miss getting attention — but they’re also getting busy.

The goats of Llandudno

Wild goats roaming through Llandudno in North Wales by Andrew Stuart, a video producer at Manchester Evening News.
Image via Medium.

“Llandudno has a herd of wild goats, which date back to the 1800s. They do like to come down the hillside, as seen many, many times previously — and documented extensively by my colleagues at North Wales Live and the Daily Post,” Stuart explained for Medium.

“They are still wary of people and human life. Normally, they are put off going much further than the bottom of the Great Orme because of how busy it is (in relative terms — this is still Llandudno after all, and not inner-city Manchester). However, thanks to the Covid-19 lockdown, the goats didn’t have any traffic, people or noise stopping them — so they ventured out.”

The goats do seem to enjoy themselves, as they chew through local shrubbery and gardens, sunbathe in a churchyard, and even “blocked traffic”. However, they are still wary of coming close to humans.

This sleepy fox somewhere in Canada

Image credits SaraReneeRyan / Twitter.

Sara, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Texas Tech, Tweeted that her dad who lives somewhere in Canada “had been sending me and my sister updates [on the fox] all day” and has even named it Nezuko.

It’s not hard to see why.

Foxes are one of the more often-spotted animals in this period, from what I’ve seen so far. There’s a lot of fox photos to enjoy in the replies to Sara’s tweet if that’s your thing (it definitely is mine).

A chill coyote

A coyote spotted in San Francisco.
Image credits beccatravels / Reddit (Becca Cook).

San Francisco is no stranger to coyotes. They live in the woods near the Bay Area and are generally content to stay away from people or ignore them if they meet. This one, however, looks very pleased that the normal hustle and bustle of the city has been curtailed in order do get some peace and quiet with a view.

But while this coyote is enjoying itself, others are hard at work resolving local politics.

“We had coup d’etat if you will,” Presidio Wildlife Ecologist Jonathan Young told ABC News about a fight that broke out in between the animals a few days ago. “A new alpha pair came and took over and kicked out the old alpha pair.”

“Since the COVID shelter-in-place, the winding trails and idle golf course [around the city’s Presidio] have become a go-to refuge for neighbors and more importantly their dogs. For the next few weeks or months, that’s potential trouble.”

The Presidio Trust cautions people that coyotes aren’t typically aggressive, but will regularly be on the hunt or defend themselves from domestic pets. It’s also a pupping season currently, so people would best try to avoid these animals. Sections of the Park Trail and the Bay Area Ridge Trail will be closed to hounds starting April 6 for the next few weeks or months over concerns about safety.

What’s happening in the zoos

We’ve just had our first confirmed case of the coronavirus jumping from a human to a tiger, and zoo staff are understandably worried that they may unwittingly infect their charges. As such, zoos around the world are implementing measures to limit the risk by reducing the animal’s exposure with their handlers and the public.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has since reiterated that there is no evidence yet that pets can spread COVID-19 to people or that they might be a source of infection in the US, but zoos and conservation centers are still being especially careful. For example, the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, a rehabilitation center for orangutans in Borneo, closed its doors to all visitors and asked the caretakers to wear masks and protective gloves when working with the primates, which are burned after the working day is over.

Grosser Panda.JPG
A giant panda at Ocean Park, Hongkong.
Image credits J. Patrick Fischer,

Nathan Hawke from Orana wildlife park in New Zealand told The Guardian that although visitors are no longer permitted, many of the park’s animals continue to come for their daily ‘meet the public’ appointments. Other groups of animals that are accustomed to human presence also seem to miss us, too, although the feeling may be forming through their stomach more than through their hearts.

Privacy, perhaps, was just what some of these species had been missing, however. Staff at the Ocean Park in Hong Kong reported that the 14-year-old resident female and male giant pandas Ying Ying and Le Le have “succeeded in natural mating” two days ago — because there aren’t any rules on panda social distancing.

This is the first success since attempts at natural mating began a decade ago, and the staff is excited for the birth, as the species is currently considered vulnerable in the wild but attempts to breed more giant pandas in captivity have been remarkably frustrating.

How coyotes conquered North America — and are still expanding fast

Credit: Pixabay.

In a healthy ecosystem, coyotes would likely not have thrived as they did. Credit: Pixabay.

While most of North America’s wild mammals are losing their range, coyotes have been expanding across much of the continent since 1900. This ‘great migration’ is well documented at the local and state level, but it wasn’t until recently that scientists were able to piece together all of the information into a coherent story.

In a new study, researchers assert that the canine predators have been offered room to expand thanks to human activity like farming and forest fragmentation, along with hybridization with other species. And as settlers chopped forests and raised huge ranches, they not only opened a corridor for coyotes to migrate out of their western United States historical range, they also culled large predators like pumas and wolves. Humans controlled these large predators for their own protection and that of their livestock, but in doing so they’ve set the table for a major coyote expansion across the whole nation that continues to this day.

That’s not to say that coyotes haven’t had their fair share of persecutions. Thousands of people have marshaled guns and set up traps specifically to hunt them down, but the coyote is a very resilient species. They eat whatever they can find, even if it’s garbage, and are sneaky animals that know how to avoid peril. Speaking to the Washington Post, Stanley D. Gehrt, an Ohio State University professor and wildlife ecologist who runs the Urban Coyote Research Project, said that coyotes “are extremely flexible and adaptable to different kinds of environments … they’re generalists for sure, so generalists tend to do pretty well in cities, but they also benefit once they move into cities.”

The new study was published by researchers led by Dr. Roland Kays, who is the head of the Biodiversity Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Kays and colleagues studied archaeological and fossil records in order to map the original range of coyotes, and then plot the predators’ range expansion across the continent from 1900 to 2017.

The team inspected more than 12,500 records spanning the past 10,000 years. The analysis showed that the original assumption that ancient coyotes had been limited to central deserts and grasslands was incorrect. Instead, the evidence points to the fact that the historical coyote range was much broader, spanning western regions of the continent for thousands of years. A turning point where coyote expansion seems to have picked up a lot of steam was identified around the year 1920.

According to Kays, coyotes are also migrating to Central America after crossing the Panama Canal. Remarkably, some individuals have been spotted approaching the Darien Gap — the heavily forested region separating North and South America. Soon, the coyote could also become a South American species.

“The expansion of coyotes across the American continent offers an incredible experiment for assessing ecological questions about their roles as predators, and evolutionary questions related to their hybridization with dogs and wolves,” said study lead author James Hody.

“By collecting and mapping these museum data we were able to correct old misconceptions of their original range, and more precisely map and date their recent expansions.”

“We hope these maps will provide useful context for future research into the ecology and evolution of this incredibly adaptive carnivore.”

The authors say that controlling coyote populations is and will continue to be very difficult, but that doesn’t mean that their findings should be taken as justification for authorities to start a massive culling process. In all likelihood, that might not even work. “The one thing that will reduce coyote numbers are wolves,” said Kays. Instead, the researchers advise that people should stop making artificial food sources available to coyotes and keep their pets supervised.

The study is published in the journal ZooKeys.

Unlikely cooperation: Coyote and badger spotted hunting together

Recent sightings in the area of the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center have revealed an unusual partnership: that between a badger and a coyote, successfully hunting together.

Coyote and badger at Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. Kimberly Fraser, USFWS

Inter-species collaboration is uncommon in the animal world, and even when it does show up, it’s usually between prey animals, not predators. But this is not the first time a badger and a coyote have been observed working together. The two complement each other very well, with the coyote chasing down the prey if it runs away, and the badger digging after it if it goes into a hole.

When they try to hunt alone, they can be either outran or out-burrowed, but together, they are faster and more efficient than any prey. However, these partnerships are rare in colder months. Usually, they happen only during the summer, because in the winter the badger simply digs and finds hibernating animals — it has no need for the fast coyote. In fact, this is quite an open relationship between them, because the two have also been spotted hunting individually sometimes.

Coyote and badger at Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. Kimberly Fraser, USFWS

A study published in 1992 also concluded that not only is the tandem more efficient when working together, but it also spends less energy and doesn’t have to move as much in the search of prey.

“Complementary morphological adaptations and predatory strategies, interspecific tolerance, and behavioral flexibility allowed them to form temporary hunting associations,” the study writes.

Well, each animal is a remarkable predator in its own right, but together — they’re almost unstoppable.

Dreadful contest in California: who can kill most coyotes wins

Hunters are having a blast in northern California, with a simple purpose: hunt as many coyotes as possible.

coyote

I wonder if Coyote cubs were counted too.

As you could guess, the event’s organizers tried to keep it as secretive as possible, but the local press estimated over 200 hunters participated in the (more or less) annual event. Opponents of the hunt – which began Friday evening and was scheduled to run through Sunday afternoon – said, for good reason, that this is inhumane and should not take place.

“We feel the killing of coyotes or any other wild animal as part of a contest is unethical, ethically indefensible and contrary to sound science,” said Camilla Fox, executive director of Project Coyote, a group that promotes what it terms “educated coexistence” between people and coyotes.

All this for a silver buckle, and of course… the “pride”.

The organizers of the event were Adin Supply Co. – which claim to be a “nostalgic grocery store”, and their owner, Steve Gagnon, did not return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment about the hunt. AP also tried contacting the Pit River Rod and Gun Club, but they were also not accessible – everyone is keeping a tight lip.

Even ranchers, who sometimes suffer greatly due to coyotes seemed to oppose this kind of event. Roger Hopping, long time resident of the area explained:

“I’m opposed to a killing contest, I’m not anti-hunting,” Hopping said. “I used to hunt ducks in the Bay Area,” the former Alameda, Calif., resident said.

The hunt comes after opponents last week failed to get the state Fish and Game Commission to stop the event. A contest to see how many lives you can take in a weekend… maybe I’m a little biased; what do you guys think?