Last winter I spotted coyotes several times in farmers’ fields just south of my home in Cambridge, Ontario.
On one occasion there was an adult pair snooping around a barn so, after taking a few pictures from the road, I stopped in to see the farmer. He smiled and said this was not uncommon. Apparently, coyotes are active during the daytime in rural areas but are more nocturnal in urban settings. They don’t want to be around people.
Coyotes have no predators in much of the continent – apart from humans. In wolf country wolves will kill them as they are competitors.
They are hunted year round and there is no limit on how many a hunter can kill. Despite attempts to completely eradicate them the number of coyotes has only increased. That’s because when their numbers drop they will adapt by breeding at an earlier age and will have bigger litters. When a coyote family is removed from a territory other coyotes might also move in.
One day in June I spotted a coyote pup crossing the road in front of me so I stopped my car at the side of the road. It glanced back at me then disappeared into a corn field before I was able to take a picture. Since then I have been thrilled to see three different pups come out of hiding.
The most fantastic encounter though was back on July 18th. I parked my car on the side of road where I had seen the pups many times. I waited a couple of hours. With the sun low in the sky I and no sighting my mind began to wander. What was I going to cook for dinner? Did I need to pick up anything at the grocery store?
Suddenly I saw movement in my rear view mirror. To my delight all three pups came out of a corn field and onto the gravel road. I watched them sniffing the ground wandering around but coming closer to my car.
I pushed open my car door and leaned out with my camera trying not to look imposing. The pups saw me and stared for a moment. Then one of them started walking closer and closer sniffing the air for my scent. The other two followed a few steps behind.
Occasionally he would stop and sit down. Then out of curiosity and, because I didn’t make any sudden movement, he started walking towards me again. This was the closest I had been to the pups.
Finally having satisfied his adventurous side he turned back and retraced his steps. After a few more minutes they all went back into the corn field.
The experience was beautiful. I hoped to repeat it but a few days later I was devastated to come across the body of one of the pups at the side of the road – probably the result of an auto collision.
That same day as I drove around the area I spotted a pup in my rear view mirror. It was about five hundred metres away from where I had seen its dead sibling.
I understand that the family will move to a different site inside their territory for the safety of the other two pups. Since then my visits have not yielded any other sightings.
They are a maligned species and many farmers complain of livestock being killed by them. And in the cities where coyotes can find food sources there are occasionally reports of them biting a human. Often humans are feeding them. Compared to the thousands upon thousands of dog bites reported annually the negative coyote encounters are miniscule.
I have enjoyed seeing these pups. They are beautiful to watch. And I hope I have more encounters with them.