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Birds and Wildlife

Polly Adcock
October 2020

A few weeks ago just before I dozed off at bedtime, there was the most awful noise. Although it sounded like it was in my backyard, it was not. It was multiple sounds of dogs having their paws or tails stepped on! The coyotes were howlin' and yippin'. These are wild dogs that resemble a smaller version of German Shepherds, yet with a longer narrow muzzle. They are approximately 25 inches tall and 32-40 inches in body length and weigh 20-35 pounds. In the pictures I viewed, they have yellow eyes.

Now I spent more than a hour trying to find the correct pronunciation. My inconsistency over the years had me curious. The Tennessee Plowboy, Eddie Arnold, sang “the cattle are prowlin' and the KAH yohts are howlin'” but Wilie E. Coyote (kah YO dee) always failed to get the Roadrunner. Notice the “dee” not “tee. It seems there are at least five ways to pronounce “coyote” and it differs by region, age and even social factors. . . . OK , just WILD DOGS! You know what is said about “old dogs” and new tricks.

The coyote epitomized the American west but the Reader's Digest North American Wildlife 1982 ed. said these dog cousins had extended their range to the northeastern states.

Preferring prairies, burned or clear cut, or open ranch areas coyotes are found all over Washington State except on the islands. Just recently coyotes were found on Whidbey and Bainbridge Islands and they have been seen on downtown waterfronts.

Their primary food source has been SMALL ANIMALS, rabbits, rodents (gophers, mice, rats, voles and MOLES) Put the cat in and bring 'em on!!

They have adapted to the presence of man even to the extent of raiding garbage cans! At one time in history there was a bounty on them for the crime of CATTLE RUSTLING. Several adult wild dogs co-operate in hunting large prey such as deer and livestock. Some places used to have killing competitions for these critters. However, the coyotes have maintained and in some places have exceeded their numbers.

The Washington State Dept. of Fish and Wildlife says :
  • Do not feed them.
  • Strap your garbage cans.
  • Do not leave pet food out especially between DUSK and DAWN when coyotes are most active.
  • Be sure small pets (chickens) are pent up or inside.
  • Pick up fallen fruit and bury compost. (apparently they eat fruits and veggies, too).
  • Watch young children when they are outside.
  • Warn and instruct children to say LOUDLY “get away coyote” .
They are not so dangerous to adult humans who can appear to be BIG and MEAN!

As I have shared before, my Daddy said, “A wild animal is ALWAYS a wild animal” ----as he grumped about his sister having a pet skunk!