Another great glimpse into animal behavior was captured on the trail cam in the back pasture this fall. Coyote found the pig bones and is now on a mission to stock up on yummy pork. What I found fascinating in the videos, it the caution the coyote shows in stealing the meat from the scene. A friend who knows little about animal behavior watched the clip with me and casually commented that it looked like the Coyote was afraid the meat might be a trap. I know these animals are cautious, and have every right to be what we would call paranoid. Ranchers are known for setting nasty traps for coyotes. They will poison meat, set leg traps, which break bone and mortally wound, and even bait to shoot on a regular basis. Watch how this beautiful pup paws the meat out of the cam view before picking it up. He then walks right into the frame with his prize. It’s a great video.
At Leafhopper Farm, we oppose extermination methods and instead, work with the predators in our area, setting up good boundaries and deterrents which work to prevent a negative encounter. Our farm dog does most of the work, marking her territory and patrolling in the livestock areas. Animals are also locked away at night for safety. Of course, this coyote was out during the day, so it’s still a risk, but as you see, they are so shy, and not excited about being watched, so daylight activity is nerve racking. The coyote does eventually get a little more relaxed by his third visit to the pile. He is now trying to put as much in his mouth as he can carry. Tentatively, he moves across the screen until, for whatever reason, he drops the meat and walks off. This was the last footage of the behavior, but it was so fascinating.
Coyotes are beautiful animals, but also vicious predators. Keeping a healthy balance of wild and domestic on the farm is challenging, and I’ve lost animals to both coyotes and bobcats on the land in the past. What works is vigilance. I walk the land often, putting eyes on animals and landscape. Trail cams are a must! Using them, I’ve gotten to see what’s on the land and when. You can’t be everywhere at once, so let the technology work for you. The videos are amazing, and invites a glimpse into the intimate behavior of our wild neighbors without disrupting their sensitive rhythms, already stressed by our encroachment into the wilds.