Saturday, November 21, 2015

Coyote Intrusion

Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner are a duo of characters from the 'Looney Tunes' and 'Merry Melodies'...a series of cartoons. Coyote repeatedly attempts to catch and subsequently eat the Road Runner, (a fast-running ground bird)...but is never successful. Coyote, instead of his species' animal instincts, uses absurdly complex contraptions and elaborate plans to pursue his prey...which always comically backfire with Wile normally getting injured by the slap-shot humour.

Those Aren't Coyotes Roaming Caledon ~ They're Coywolves!
Bradley White, a leading geneticist with Trent University who was involved in the discovery of the coywolf says the animal is a hybrid that emerged about a century ago, after eastern wolves and western coyotes mated. This is a species that is quickly evolving. The coywolf is larger and is much more likely to travel in packs like the coyote. These larger ones will take deer, small livestock (like goats and chickens)...and certainly family pets if left on their own at peak hours, which are generally in early morning and late at night.

They appear in residential areas such as Caledon East (near Orangeville, Ontario) because they are more acceptable to human territory than the wolves or a typical coyote would be. They are not particularly aggressive, but they are opportunistic creatures,” he said. “They are adapting to life with humans around.”
Interestingly, a couple evenings ago, I watched David Suzuki's “Nature of Things”
which introduced me to the coywolf.
In the past year, we've had several coyotes roaming around in my city of Burlington...perhaps they were coywolves! Toronto, apparently is home to growing packs of coywolves ~ living in areas adjacent to busy highways which provide wooded areas between the vehicular traffic and human habitation. In Algonquin Park (northern Ontario), (8,000 square km) has become the domain for these coywolves.
In such areas, they interbreed and are creating 'families'
living on the fringes of residential locations.
They have become more adaptable and more intelligent.

In United States, the tall grasslands and wooded areas surrounding Chicago are inundated with at least 2,000 coywolves; and even the outer Burroughs of New York City are home to these breeding 'hybrids'.
Research now shows that 49 of 50 States (except Long Island) are 'home' to this new species.

Traits of Coyotes and Coywolves
Average weight is 30 to 45 pounds on average.
Paw-track size is oval and measures 3 to 3.5 inches long.
Colours range from blonde to darker black and brown...but is usually tawny brown.
They feed mostly on smaller mammals.
Opportunistic predators: fruit to meat, mice, voles, rabbits, woodchucks, larger animals if available.
Habitat is usually wilderness or agricultural suburban areas; preference is the edges of human habitat.
Require areas of 'cover' and supply of high-prey members.

Avoid Interactions from occurring: Do not let dogs outdoors loose without constant supervision.
Fences should be at least 5 feet high and with no 'crawl-space' underneath.
Dogs, taken out by their owners, should be leashed.
Dogs should not be tied outdoors unfenced and unsupervised in coyote-prevalent areas.
Cats should be kept indoors ~ unless trained to remain at home.

Do's and Don'ts in Coyote/Coywolf Country: DO chase them away and make noise (bang pots and pans) if you don't want them in your yard...OR watch them from inside your windows, if interested.
DO make noise when you're outside, especially if coyotes are often in your area (having a den nearby).
With noise, they will often change their course of direction when they hear people.
DO bring a horn or whistle to scare them away from you.
DO NOT feed coyotes or other animals...(even if you are feeding birds)...they look for easy 'handouts'.
Absolutely, DO NOT let your cat outside if you are truly concerned about its health.
DO enjoy their presence and the fact that having this wily predator
adds to the mystique of your neighbourhood!

In a Nutshell: Eastern wolves, often considered to be a 'hybrid' of gray wolves and coyotes, actually represent a separate species, as revealed by the latest genomic research published in Biology Letters.
Eastern Wolves are a separate species; however, when they and coyotes mix, a new species is born: The Coywolf! They are 'hybrids. In reality, wolves, coyotes and dogs have formed a new type of creature referred to as The Coywolf. There are now millions of them roaming around North America.
They're faster, more muscular, have bigger jaws...and are better suited for a variety of environments.

Coyote Finds an Old Dog Toy in the Snow
Photographer, Pamela Karaz lives in Trenton Falls, New York in a rural area. Her own property is 48 acres of forest and field; frequently she gets to see wildlife in her own backyard. “We've had coyotes living around us for years. We hear them mostly during the summer evenings...but something other than coyote howls happened two years ago. Our driveway is a quarter-mile long, lined with 45-year-old balsam trees. While having morning coffee, I spotted the coyote. He went to the middle of the driveway...leaving his scent on a downed branch (indicating he was a male)...then went into the trees and popped up at the edge of our yard...looked around...checked it out...and sniffed some tracks in our yard before noticing the blue-stuffed toy...sniffing around where our dog had rolled...again sniffed the blue raggedy toy...dropped it and sniffed it again. That's when the magic happened!

He picked it up then proceeded to toss it into the air and play with it like a dog would toss a toy. It lasted perhaps 5 to 10 minutes...picking up the toy...tossing it in the air...picking it up again...almost bucking around with it...then he just happily and casually trotted off with it in his mouth.” Karaz notes that her dogs often leave their stuffed toys out in the yard and more than one has disappeared...this is perhaps not the first time the coyote had played and run off with her dogs' toys.

Pamela Karaz further comments: “Many animal species exhibit 'play'...and yet, humans can't help but look on in awe when we realize it is a species beyond the domestic dogs and cats we keep for company. We get accustomed to thinking of wildlife as efficient and purposeful, wasting no energy. For the young of many species, 'play' included is an essential part of growing up! Through play, juveniles learn everything they'll need for adulthood to to navigate through the social structure of their community. So, we look on with joy when fox pups romp with each other...and bear cubs tumble around together. But, when the play carries on into adulthood, we stare with amazement, reminding we are not the only animals who like to inject a little joy into our day with a little silliness!
They have personalities...they have feelings...and they do their best to survive
in what is sometimes a very unfriendly world. They are not so different from us!

Written by Merle Baird-Kerr...November 2, 2015

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