Wednesday, August 17, 2011

COYOTE CULTURE

I have 9 traps set for coyotes but have not got any yet. Julian Dobson, December 20, 1934

I got a coyote the next day after Xmas and one the next day.  Sent the pelts to Billings, Mont., and got the check yesterday and they only give me 25 cents each for them. I wrote them today and told them to send them back to me. They were nice hides and well-furred. I will try some other fur house for them.  Julian Dobson, January 10, 1935

In comments at the post, “A Snake in the Grass,” Leah wrote about problems with aggressive coyotes near her housing community. She reports that recently coyotes have attacked and killed small dogs as they were being walked on leashes by their owners, who are elderly women. This fits with what I heard through the news several years ago – that coyotes in urban areas are becoming aggressive, attacking dogs and even children. 

At the farm, we hear coyotes yelping or yodeling during the evening and sleeping hours. Sometimes the cries are in the distance and sometimes quite close. Last week I swear they had a rendezvous and the yelping and yodeling went on for hours and involve more voices than usual. I imagined that several packs had come together with ensuing discussion over territory rights. The other night I heard just one random call, and I thought it was quite close – not farther than the hill beyond the front yard.

We often see coyote sign on the road, even in the lane, but last week – about the time of the rendezvous – Mike identified fresh scat in the yard that appeared to be coyote. We hate to think of them coming that close, especially when we’re here. 

Daytime coyote sightings are infrequent. Riding my bike on Miller Road a couple of years ago, I caught sight of one running ahead of me at some distance and didn’t see it again. Sometimes we see one moving through a field. I can’t remember ever seeing more than one at a time.

As Chris pointed out some time ago, coyotes are my friends in the great rodent war, so I cut them some slack. (Not that I have a choice.) Do I worry about Nellie? I don’t think one can ever totally let the guard down, but I believe her house in the woodshed is a secure place and she doesn’t roam on her own. Neighbors say they have never known coyote to bother dogs in this area.

We also hear coyote on a regular basis at the “town house,” which is actually in a development on the outskirts of town. We even see them in daytime, sitting on the edge of the road. Some see the coyote as predator and are put off while others echo the sentiment that they kill pesky rodents, a good service to mankind. But, where they lose their fear of humans and become aggressive, they are a problem. 

[The photo is of my grandfather, Julian Dobson, taken in 1935. Coyote pelts are still in demand, according to online research. I believe my grandfather was doing what he could to bring a little extra money into the family coffers. And besides, the coyotes probably preyed on the chickens and other vulnerable farm animals.] KW

6 comments:

Leah said...

The coyote trappings to date in my little town are holding at 9 this summer. The fine for feeding wild animals is $1,000. How they can prove that is unknown, but I've heard that some people have admitted that they feed the coyotes. What has been surprising to everyone is that they are just walking around on the sidewalks in broad daylight. When they have taken the little dogs, they hid in the bushes, out of sight. "Those in the know" are telling us that because they put poison out for the huge rabbit overpopulation a few years ago, we upset the balance of nature. Why did "those in the know" allow the general public to make such a decision? I don't know.

Kathy, you mentioned hearing them at the farm and I realized that we never hear coyote calls or yodels. I wonder why.

The photos of Julian with his coyote catches must have been uncommon or they wouldn't have taken a photo, right?

What does one do with a coyote pelt?

Kathy said...

I researched coyote at Wikipedia. The article there says that coyote pelts are still in demand for men's coats and trim.

I don't think it was unusual for the farmers to trap the coyote. I don't know why this particular photo was taken. Mike said he thought the coyote seemed large, so perhaps Julian wanted the picture.

It seems strange that you don't hear the cries. Perhaps some online research would address that.

Hallie said...

How many "kill" photos do you have of your Grandpa? There's also the eagle photo...

Kathy said...

I don't have many hunting photos -- perhaps just those two of Julian and one of Vance and Earle. Historically we have to make the most of what we have. I wish I had more harvest photos, pictures of people picking fruit and vegetables, working in the kitchen, displaying a finished quilt, etc. They just didn't think like that in the old days. Photography was expensive and "special." We are so lucky to have these images -- even if a few are borderline offensive.

Dan & Chris said...

We have coyotes near our house and sometimes they party! And I must tell you that several years ago we had a neighbor for about a year who had sled dogs. One evening when he let the dogs run behind their house, one of the dogs was attacked by coyotes and they broke one of its hind legs. The neighbor was shocked, coming from Alaska where there were wolves who never bothered his dogs, to have this happen in Idaho!

Kathy said...

Chris, I would be shocked, too, if the coyotes attacked my dogs, and I'm really surprised that they bothered a sled dog. Obviously, they can be vicious.