The first times I remember hearing the nighttime yips, wails, and howls of coyotes in the night, was back in the early 1980’s when I did a lot of tent camping. Back then I was scared of them and had all sorts of thoughts about these wild dogs coming into camp and attacking me. But, at that time, I was also completely ignorant about the coyote and its habits. It really wasn’t until 2011, when I was raising orphaned Daisy deer, that I took an interest in learning about this wild canine. My interest was not that I wanted to know more about its well-being, rather, I needed to know more about its hunting habits and range of territory – I needed to understand what Daisy was up against when we set her free. I no longer feared the coyotes presence. Instead, I was ferocious about protecting Daisy.
As it turned out, Daisy showed me that she was able to outsmart coyotes without my help. And, as the years rolled along, I tried to remind myself that somehow Spirit, one of the first of Daisy’s eight fawns, survived, and how a few other woodland fawns over the last years have been seen to survive from time to time as well. I remember, too, how many times Daisy showed me that instinct, along with her body’s ability to heal when she was injured, indicated that Nature had prepared her for survival. Still, the fact remained that there had always been healthy coyote numbers in the area – perhaps an over-population, and statistics had shown that the largest loss of fawns in this county was due to coyote predation. For a long time, because of my love of deer and other gentle critters of the woodlands, I had an attitude about the coyotes. I did not like them at all.
Then, in 2016, I discovered an adult coyote in the old river channel suffering from mange. Somewhat surprisingly, I did not feel as elated as I thought I would feel, knowing that this particular coyote would live the remainder of its life in pain and misery and would probably not last the winter. I did not really like to think of any life form suffering, and wondered if this disease might spread, or if perhaps it was nature’s way of dealing with the over-population. I never considered that nature had its own way of taking care of the situation, and that it would cause me to think differently of my attitude about predators.
But nature had not yet finished educating me. While I cursed seeing coyotes roaming areas all through our property, I softened when we captured game camera image of a coyote family not far from the old river channel. There were also night videos of a female and a pup, hunting for prey. And there were the trips to the west end of the property, where I found a lone pup sitting on a knoll each day. Possibly, the parents had left it there to attempt hunting on its own. Seeing all this, I felt torn inside. As much as I did not like the thought of a new generation of coyotes on the place, I also saw a family, struggling to survive like any other life form.
Now, when I hear the distant cries, yipping, and barking of the coyote at night, I wonder at how my perspective of them has changed. Admittedly, I will probably never love the coyotes, but I recognize their role in the ecosystem, and I see them in a more respectful light.
© 2018 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…