Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Grandmother's Guide to Living with Coyotes

I love going to the woods on a downdrenching day like this ... especially this time of year.  By now all the serious hunters looking for deer for the freezer have already used their tags .... so in realspeak a rainy day means we are less likely to bump into recreational hunters unfamiliar with property lines.
Being the cautious sort, the fire is laid but not lit before we go ... but by the time the dogs are towelled off its coziness has already caught.  The dogs have all been with me long enough to know the drill, so they are never put off by the wet.
But the earlydog detection system DOES give me good warning when there are coyotes ahead on the trail.  There was a time when such sitings were more rare, but as the area has built up my friend's land has become one of the last pockets of old wood around, hmmm?
River Ridge subdivision now sits where the west end of the woods were.   To make matters worse, one of the old time large landowners in the area passed away a few years ago and his widow was quick to have the property clearcut... taking out hundreds of acres of woodland wildlife habitat in one fell swoop.
Is she the only villain in the picture?  Not even close... although the topic of the political pressure and publicity campaigns being mounted by the wood related businesses to justify clearcutting is subject for a blog with a different focus than mine.
Without wandering too far afield, suffice it to say that in the natural world, nothing exists in a bubble.  When wildlife habitats are destroyed, of course the wildlife will have to shift location if they are to survive.  I'm a middle aged grandmother, not a biologist .. but even I can see that.
Instead of a coyote cull, it would be more to the point to place a moratorium on irresponsible wood harvesting practices that destroy wildlife habitat.
But until there is sufficient strong voter feedback to change the status quo, here are a few lessons that this middle aged grandmother has learned about living with coyotes :
  • Never, Ever leave children out unsupervised.  Coyotes teach their young to hunt with the more vulnerable living beings like children and pets
  • coyotes are wild things, not pets .... don't feed them.   Keep a bucket in the freezer for meat bones and such so that your green cart doesn't draw them in
  • don't tie dogs out .. in fact don't leave dogs out unattended.  Period.
  • don't let your dogs offleash after dark ...even in a fenced yard.
  • It just isn't safe anymore for house cats to go outside.  Period.
  • always carry something noisy like a loud whistle or an air horn in the woods.  Cell phones are great but the coyotes don't care if you call 911, eh?
  • If one is feeding feral cats, make sure that safe secure shelter is provided so that they dont' become coyote chow.
  • If you are feeding stray cats, please be aware that they very likely do not have the finely honed instincts of a feral and will need to have safe shelter in a building after dark.   Insulated little snuggeries can be tucked into garages or sturdy sheds to keep them safe ... until they can either be vaccinated and introduced into a household - yours or someone else's
  • Carry a flashlight after dark
  • Keep your BBQ clean
  • If you're not experienced in the woods, please don't go out there by yourself
  • and last but definitely not least ... pay attention to your own dogs.   I always know when the coyotes are down by the pond because Miss Ruby is on full alert when she's watching them, hmmm?
Last night the coyotes were singing up in the gravel pit not far from my place.   Out here in the country, sound really travels, and I could also hear every dog outside for miles kicking up a fuss.   After all, our dogs may be pets but they instinctively know what we often shrug off .. that good care and caution is needed around coyotes.  
I'm a middle aged grandmother who either hears or sees coyotes nearly every day and I still do not believe in a coyote cull.  Its been on for a month now and hasn't slowed the coyotes down
What time is it?  Its time to encourage our politicians to effectively address the coyote issue properly .. by restoring and protecting wildlife habitats. 
Until then ... be sensible and be safe... because the cull isn't really going to do a darned thing.


Anonymous said...

fabulous post Janet - would love to see this in the Herald!
Too bad our province and Government cannot see logic and chose to be reactive instead of proactive.

Shelley LeBlanc said...

Great resource Janet, do you mind if I copy this to the SPCA FB group? I'll use your name of course. :)