Don’t laugh. Coyotes now live in almost every state in the U.S. Not just in the countryside, either. Many have found their way into cities. According to a recent wildlife study, Chicago now has over 2000 resident coyotes. These feral dogs, once found only in the West, have slowly migrated east over the last 100 years.
Coyotes have learned that the living is much easier near human settlements. They sneak into suburban areas late at night to raid dumpsters, tip over garbage bins, and steal seeds from bird feeders. They break into farmers’ chicken coops and leave dead poultry behind. Unfortunately, they also prey on small dogs and cats. The coyote life is tougher in the wild, where the dogs must spend long hours searching for food.
Coyotes are smart. Their intelligence is apparent in the strategies they devise for big-game hunting. Working as a team, each dog has an assigned role in the chase and take-down. They’ve also developed creative tactics for escaping wolves—their main enemy. In hilly country, coyotes take advantage of their lighter weight, agility, and skills at darting and dodging. More often than not, the coyote vanishes in the distance, leaving the wolf behind–frustrated and panting. On flat terrain, wolves have the advantage and it takes several coyotes to chase off the enemy (click here).
Coyotes sometimes pair up with badgers to hunt cooperatively. The coyote, a fast runner, chases a rodent along the ground as the badger watches. When the prey reaches its burrow and dives in, the badger claws away the dirt. Then dinner is served!
Why aren’t coyotes sighted more often? These smart canines know that people are hazardous to their health. They take great pains to stay hidden and save their criminal activity for the middle of the night. As a result, they’re rarely seen. People seldom suspect coyotes when trash barrels are tipped over or cats start disappearing in the neighborhood.
Farmers whose chicken coups are raided generally blame foxes, raccoons, or domestic dogs. In most cases, it doesn’t occur to them that coyotes are the perpetrators. The angry farmer sets traps or sits up all night with a shotgun. Usually, the coyotes are too smart to get caught, but they know the jig is up. So they move on to safer locales.
Paste this link into your browser to see and hear a coyote barking and howling http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SIf6epg9cU&feature=related