Feb 17, 2012

That's no chupacabra...

Last month, we received a call about a coyote suffering from an extreme case of mange. It was observed wandering through a gated housing development near the Silver Creek Valley Country Club. Before we could coordinate a response, the animal stopped showing up.

Two weeks went by before he was spotted again. This time, the coyote was making his rounds through the senior living community between 1:00 and 2:00 in the afternoon.

Coyotes are keenly observant of their surroundings. It's very difficult - nearly impossible to trap them in 'humane' cage trap. On Valentine's Day, Duane and Rebecca decided to try setting a trap designed specifically for canids -  it's called a Collarum. A typical cage trap is activated when an animal steps on and depresses the release mechanism, whereas the Collarum is triggered by a tug or a pull action - the way a dog would snatch up a piece of meat.

We never leave traps unattended, ever! We 'sit' on them - watching and waiting.

Once the trap was set and baited, Duane took a position some 20 yards away, inside the rescue vehicle, where he had a clear view of the trap. Rebecca monitored the trap from a different vantage point within the complex where she could control pedestrian traffic as needed, even though the coyote was accustomed to people walking about.

It wasn't long before crows alarmed, alerting them to the approach of a predator.

Sure enough, the coyote rounded the corner and began eating fallen fruit from two loquat trees. It also found the trail of avocado slices leading to the trap. He was reasonably skittish, and frightened off before reaching the trap.

Photo by Deanna Barth
Maintaining two different vantage points allowed Duane and Rebecca to track the dog's movements. Over the course of an hour, it came and went, getting quite close to the trap, eyeing the raw chicken leg, but scaring off before actually grabbing it.

The amount of human traffic in the complex, was high. People parking their cars, shuffling down the pathways. One fellow rolled in with his flagged cart to check out what was going on. Finally, the gardeners arrived with their loud mowers, so the team called it a day.

On Friday, one of our lead responders, Deanna, teamed up with Duane to give it another try. The dog actually took the bait, but, because he had slipped in at an angle, the loop missed. Interestingly, the coyote approached the trap again, after it was re-set, coming within a couple of feet, but he never took the bait again. The team will consider another strategy. Perhaps a mechanical seine. It will take some doing, but may be the only way to capture him.

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Sue Grissom said...

Very interesting, thank you for posting. I grew up around coyotes in West Texas, and the only time I remember seeing them was around dawn. I always thought of them as nocturnal animals. Very unusual for one to be out in the middle of the afternoon.

WildRescue said...

Thanks for your comment. Like all dogs, they are crepuscular - their activity peaks at twilight, around dawn and dusk, however, it's common to see coyotes in the daytime, especially during late summer when pups are older and requiring more food, or when an animal is ill and must hunt at odd time. I imagine, since he's pretty much naked, it's probably too cold and uncomfortable to hunt until warmer parts of the day. ~ Rebecca Dmytryk