Living with Carnivores: The Coy Wolf
Wildlife comes in all shapes and sizes and I truly love them all, but let’s face it some species have a bad rap. Carnivores for example seem to suffer from a skewed public image. Let’s talk about that for a moment. Cats are carnivores, and very serious ones at that. When domestic cats are left outside suddenly cuddly little fee-fee is pouncing on Chipmunks and songbirds and in fact “millions” of birds and many other species are taken each year from our domestic pets. Despite this fact, Cats are considered “cute” so regardless of the science about what really happens, they are left outside and continue to harm local wildlife because they are lucky or even smart enough, to make friends with humans. That’s an important survival skill for a carnivore these days since we are still learning how to coexist with wildlife.
Let’s look at another species, the “Coy-Wolf” also sometimes called the Eastern Coyote. This is a large predator with some animals reaching huge sizes of 50 to 60 pounds double their western cousins and is actually due to the genetics of being a hybrid between the Western Coyote and the Eastern “red” Wolf. Like the Cat, this animal is a true carnivore and in the case of the Coy-Wolf is also a very intelligent opportunistic and social hunter. Unlike that Cat, the Coy-Wolf suffers from a very serious public image problem. They pay a terrible price for that fact and are hunted relentlessly in many areas of their habitat and despite their wild beauty, haven’t yet been able to win over us humans.
Coy-Wolves are a”stunning” looking animal reminiscent of wild times long ago and one would think that people would warm up to them. They look like, and are very closely related to dogs who are our best friends so what exactly is going on? Well first of all we can’t tame them and many people are bothered by that. They are really wild, not like the domestic cat who just acts like that when you’re not looking.
The other problem is a real one – they sometimes will eat unprotected cats that are left outside. Our pets are our family and people who have lost a small dog or cat to a coyote or Coy-Wolf certainly have good reason to be upset. There is however more to the story, and rushing to judgment isn’t always the best approach. Living with carnivores requires some disciplines to ensure the safety of your household pet as well as the safety of the wildlife. Think of it this way, living next to a road (like most of us do) is far more dangerous. We learn common sense rules at a very young age. “Look both ways before crossing”, “stay in your lane when driving” and the list goes on and on. Following these rules is the best way to ensure your safety. Would you let your small dog or cat cross a busy highway? Of course not, that’s because you know the rules and the consequences.
Living with carnivores also comes with rules and is by far, much safer then the highway. If you leave food outside for your pet you most likely will attract wildlife including carnivores. So leaving a doggy dish with food in it can attract Coy-wolves. Leaving your pet outside unattended is taking a chance that could put your pet in harm’s way so try and keep a leash on your pet or at a minimum stay with your pet. Most importantly, do not let your pets out at night. There is no need since you can easily set a schedule with your pet so they go out when it’s safe to do so. If you must let them out at night for some reason remember the earlier leash rule.
Like the highway, following all the rules doesn’t mean that something unexpected can never happen however, it will greatly reduce the risk of an incident that can hurt your pet, and the wildlife. People often ask if humans are at risk from Coyotes and Coy-Wolves. The answer is certainly “no.” You are completely safe, I have been in the presence of these animals many times. Here is another way to make the point.
Every year, there are more fatalities from “domestic dogs” then there are from Coyotes or Coy-Wolves in “all of recorded history”. Please read the previous sentence twice, it’s important.
The environment flourishes when there are carnivores. It’s nature’s way. Trust that she knows exactly what she is doing-she has had a lot of practice.
The world is far better with Coy-Wolves. Mother Nature chose them to fill a niche in the natural world fixing an apex predator void that we humans created. Learn about this beautiful species online from scientists studying the species like Dr Way and cherish their incredible songs. Recently I had the honor of spending time with Dr Way tracking radio collared Coy-Wolves during the night and studying them. His critical research is helping to better understand this amazing and yet poorly understood species. You’ll see more about the Coy-Wolf and observe some actual film taken during the research trip in the coming weeks on the Nature Walks Youtube channel.
They are as beautiful as any species you will meet and I hope in time we all can learn to both appreciate, and live “with” this beautiful singing wild k9 called the Coy Wolf.