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Into the Outdoors: Coyotes

Our focus this week is going to be on coyotes. When I was a kid, the only ones we thought about were the ones howling while the Lone Ranger and Tonto were camping in the wild, or Wile E. Coyote chasing obsessively after the Roadrunner. Now, however, they are among us. In fact, there have been a number of sightings in East Brady, right in town, by credible people. We have had them in Brady’s Bend for many years. The town sightings are not all that surprising, as coyotes are very adaptable to areas occupied by humans. These critters know how to get by wherever they are.

Did you ever wonder how coyotes got their name? It traces back to an Aztec word for trickster. In Native American mysticism, the spirit Coyote is often thought of as the trickster. This is probably because of how smart and clever coyotes are. They can work alone or in packs. They do whatever the situation requires They are both predators and scavengers. Their senses of hearing, sight and, especially, smell are very keen. They seem almost able to plan things out. For example, if someone puts food out at night for cats, a coyote will eat the cats and then keep coming back to eat the cat food. The person placing the food is often convinced that cats are eating the food, so they keep putting it out.

This is the mating time for coyotes. The males often become more aggressive during this time. Further, since there are soon to be young to feed, they also hunt harder. This raises concerns for people with outdoor pets. For whatever reason, they are especially fond of cats as food. If you have outside cats, it is a very good idea to bring them in at night. Coyotes will also eat small dogs, and, especially during mating season, they will attack and maul larger dogs, sometimes in packs. If you love your pets, you should be ready careful.

Coyotes also prey heavily on wildlife as well. They are a major factor in fawn mortality. They also feast on wild turkeys and any other small animals they can catch.

Does this mean that I think coyotes are somehow bad or evil? Of course not. They simply do what nature has programmed them to do. I, for one, do not hunt them. I don’t want to eat them, so my “if it dies, it fries” philosophy gets in the way. I must emphasize, however, that I have absolutely no quarrel with those who choose to hunt them. It is simply a matter of personal choice.

As for pet owners, coyotes are not the only reason for concern. February is also the mating time for the great horned owl. They, too, are very fond of cats as table fare. In fact, a buddy of mine once saw one of them taking an adult cat. Those baby owls get pretty hungry, and the parents often become bolder in order to satisfy them.

On another front, I read an article which stated that the Game Commission took calls about the Saturday opener for deer season, and a whopping 80% of callers objected to it. Personally, I don’t care much about the issue. I don’t own a hunting camp, and haven’t been to one in over forty years. I do, however sympathize with those who feel that yet another cherished tradition has been lost. Anyone who thinks that the Game Commission cares about what they think, should do some serious thinking on the subject. This is especially true if you are a senior hunter. The special season they provide for us requires the purchase of a separate license, even if you have a senior lifetime license. Further, holding seniors to antler restrictions is patently unfair. Some things never change.

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