coyotes like this to produce the North Country’s ‘timid wolves’ (Photos: US Government)
By SARAH BULLOCK
The coyote breeding season continues through February, resulting in more activity among predators. But experts say the howls, which can scare people away, shy dogs are just looking for their mates.
“It’s not impossible, but it’s extremely rare for a coyote to see a person as prey,” H. Brian Underwood, a professor of environmental biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, said Wednesday.
“Coyotes are so shy,” said Tamie Olmstead, licensed wildlife rehabilitator and owner of NY Wildlife Rescue in Freeville. “They’re not hard to scare.”
But while they’re there, Underwood said, be careful not to leave small pets outside alone, keep trash outside, leave piles of carcasses in the woods, or raise pets. closes without providing predator-proof shelter.
Underwood protects livestock on his Cayuga County farm near the Bear Swamp State Forest in Sempronius with an electric fence.
“Coyotes don’t like to be seen,” Underwood said, and they’re pretty much nocturnal.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation has called coyotes a nuisance species, but also states that they are an integral part of the ecosystem.
When walking near woods after dark, especially if walking a small dog on early winter evenings, humans should be aware that coyotes and other animals also come out, Underwood said. .
“You’re definitely the most likely to hear coyotes,” Underwood said. “Especially at this time of year when they cry to re-establish territorial ties and announce their intentions during the breeding season.”
“They communicate with different yelps, moans and howls,” Olmstead said. “These are the screams we hear because it carries.”
“Coyotes have their own little vocabulary, just like people do,” Underwood said. They have distinctive calls for everything from romance to dares to distress calls.
Humans can join the conversation with their own howl, he said.
“It works,” Underwood said. “You can yell at a group of coyotes and they’ll respond right back to you.”
“Coyotes are really smart and they’re sneaky and they’re pranksters,” Olmstead said. In native folklore, coyotes are portrayed as tricksters, and after rehabilitating the coyotes, she understands why. A coyote she raised, named Luca, was a hoarder.
“He used to steal my stuff,” she laughed. “His toys, my slippers, my pajamas, whatever was lying around.”
He would pile his hiding place in the lawn for later. Once Olmstead picked it up, he would start over.
After mating season, expect letters of eight to 10 puppies in early spring, Underwood said.
“Both parents will feed the puppies,” he said. Coyote fathers will bring food to mothers while the pups nurse. When eating meat, both parents hunt to support themselves.
Males that survive to adulthood are hunted in the fall to prevent inbreeding and force them to find their own hunting territory; females can stay longer, but they must also find their own patch to hunt.
“It can be a long road,” Underwood said. “A lot of them die along the way.”
“And we need them because they’re reducing the deer population,” Olmstead said. It’s important to let wildlife balance out, she said. “We just have to leave nature alone.”
“The country is definitely rewilding,” Underwood said, and that includes wild bird species, the mountain lions and coyotes once mined in New York. ” That happens. I’m not sure we can do much about it. I think that’s cool.