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John Satterlee
02-24-2009, 06:28 AM
A question: Should I be worried about coyotes and my small dog when walking in the woods in Southern NE? I have always had big labs so I never gave it a thought, but now that I have a 14 pound terrier mix, should I worry when out on the trail?

The other night (the last full moon) we got back to the car after dark and heard a pack very close to us and when I read about them most of what I read wasn't good. This walk is a local land trust holding and is my favorite winter walk but I am afraid to let her go loose there now.

I always thought that a human's presence would keep them away but now I am not sure.

Chip
02-24-2009, 06:39 AM
ours here mostly still move together at night but there's often a healthy single male that has trotted right past us while we've been in the yard, I mean within feet of my wife in the garden and within about 30 feet of me on my mower. So human presence might only be a factor in areas where they are hunted. Lots of "Lost Cat" signs in the area. I'd keep the dog in sight at least. I have friends with hunting dogs that have been shadowed by coyote.

http://lh5.ggpht.com/_tVq0g8Pgkgs/SOtKoIP9RCI/AAAAAAAADEM/vJN9WRC6ggU/s640/IMG_3087.JPG

David Metsky
02-24-2009, 06:49 AM
I always thought that a human's presence would keep them away but now I am not sure.
It'd be very surprising if coyotes attacked a person, but a small dog? Sure. Coyotes are very opportunistic and quick, they could get a dog just out of your sight easily.

Waumbek
02-24-2009, 07:04 AM
Yup, have to agree with Dave about the danger to a small dog. We see and hear an increasing number of coyotes around here, Franconia, and they're big. Supposedly they hybridize with Quebec wolves although that may be a myth. In any event, they're much larger than the coyotes I've seen in the west. As in Chip's picture, they run with tail pointing straight down.

darren
02-24-2009, 07:24 AM
Since coyote traps were banned in Massachusetts several years ago, the coyote population has gone through the roof. Coyotes in SE NE are now eating their share of cats and small dogs - no two ways about it.

I know a guy who lives in an area that has lost every cat and small dog in the neighborhood to coyotes. He has the last small dog on the street and one night around 10 he was going to let his dog go outside before going to bed. It was his normal routine. He happened to look out the door before he let his dog out and a large coyote was sitting in his back yard watching the door. It was like he had cased the house and knew the small dog (his meal) should be coming out around 10.

My brother's small dog was just attacked last month by a coyote in his backyard (Southern New Hampshire - I guess the Mass coyotes cross the line just like us M*$$holes :o ). He heard the noise and ran out there and saved his dog just in time. His dog needed surgery and extensive care but lived.

You should certainly not let a small dog off a leash in an area of coyote activity.

- darren

Bob Kittredge
02-24-2009, 07:29 AM
I came nose to nose with one at 9AM in Newton, MA. I was particularly surprised at how big it was; 40 pounds at least. It turned and ran away, but I've heard they can be very bold, snatching cats off decks with the owners 10 feet away.

I'd keep a small dog on a leash and carry a club of some sort.

kevinmac
02-24-2009, 07:42 AM
Here is an excellent article on living with coyotes from the Mass. Fish and Game Dept:

http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/wildlife/living/living_with_coyotes.htm

sardog1
02-24-2009, 07:56 AM
My wife walks her 12 pound terrier and 65 pound Malinois through the local coyotes' home turf nearly daily, often at night. I have seen track evidence that one shadowed her on the walk. She never lets the terrier off leash. (On a couple of occasions, the Malinois has given the coyotes the scare of their lives -- they had no idea of the acceleration and murderous intent that their presence would evoke from him. :D )

Coyotes are intelligent, opportunistic, and fully capable of luring targeted dogs away from their owners. Yeah, you should keep the terrier close at hand, preferably on a leash. It's very unlikely that you'd have a serious problem if the dog is on a leash.

Fisher Cat
02-24-2009, 08:04 AM
As far as I know both NH State Parks and National Forest say you have to have them on a leash anyway. Of course, in practice that's another story:D
But I think at the time of the original legislation the pets safety probably wasn't the concern.

Chip
02-24-2009, 08:09 AM
Coyotes are intelligent, opportunistic, and fully capable of luring targeted dogs away from their owners.

I've heard this also; One coyote allows itself to be chased into the woods where the rest wait in ambush. No proof in my experience but it sounds possible.

nartreb
02-24-2009, 08:19 AM
Keep in mind that keeping a dog on a leash won't stop the coyotes forever. Coyotes in southern California have learned that humans will let go of the leash once the dog is dead.

http://repositories.cdlib.org/anrrec/hrec/timm_baker_P047/

ColdRiverRun
02-24-2009, 09:20 AM
I've heard this also; One coyote allows itself to be chased into the woods where the rest wait in ambush. No proof in my experience but it sounds possible.
We have the same problem around here with Velociraptors, I think it's the ones that escaped off the island in Jurassic Park.;) Those damn things don't care if your dog is on a leash.

darren
02-24-2009, 09:23 AM
BTW, Chip, if that healthy coyote routinely gets within 30' of you while you are on a lawn mower then it might be time to trade in your 35mm device for a 30 caliber device... :eek:

One has to admit that it is ironic that the animal lovers that voted to ban coyote traps are now losing their cats to the same coyotes they fought to save. Talk about paying the price for what you believe in.

- darren

DrewKnight
02-24-2009, 09:35 AM
FWIW, they're also capable of hunting much larger things in a pack configuration. You knew that, of course, but at the risk of repeating myself:

Two Septembers ago, we were sitting out by the firepit of a cool early fall night in "downtown" Waterville Valley. It was just about sunset, and there were about six adults chatting quietly. Off in the woods behind the condo complex, we heard a kind of bawling sound... It sounded something like a cow or calf in distress, or maybe a little like Gentle Ben (for those TV viewers of a certain age). It was really a chilling sound, and it went on for a couple minutes. By the volume and direction of the sound, it was probably a quarter mile into the woods and slightly downhill from us. Soon after it started, we heard a series of excited barks and howls -- a group of coyotes -- up hill and in the woods. Over the next couple of minutes, the bawling and the barking converged, and the bawling intensified.

It was a very primal experience -- we assumed that it was probably a downer moose (brainworm or whatever), but hearing the pack of coyotes sweep down and take it -- and very close by -- was pretty intense.

Based on the half-dozen or so sightings I have enjoyed (in suburban Boston and in the Whites over the past couple of years), I would not assume that your presence would dampen a coyote attack much. Back about the time I first saw a coyote (out walking my very large greyhound late one winter night) in Hingham, there was a small child attacked while playing in his back yard under his mother's watch a few miles away. She ended up beating the coyote off, and, IIRC, the coyote was later caught -- not rabid, just hungry.

Chip
02-24-2009, 09:55 AM
BTW, Chip, if that healthy coyote routinely gets within 30' of you while you are on a lawn mower then it might be time to trade in your 35mm device for a 30 caliber device... :eek:
- darren
All legal options are in play. The last time I saw it while mowing I stopped and made a "tch tch" noise (like when calling in your dog) and it actually stopped and took a few steps towards me before deciding better and moving on. My dog did contract "fox mites" (mange) last year and was successfully treated, but that may have been from fox and not coyote. If my boys or dog were smaller I'd be more concerned. There is a wild/non-house cat in the neighborhood that's been able to survive. I'm generally more concerned with unhealthy animals that may have mange or rabies.

DougPaul
02-24-2009, 10:45 AM
FWIW, they're also capable of hunting much larger things in a pack configuration.
A hiking friend told me that he saw a pack chasing a deer (Lake George area, NY).

When I repeated this to my wildlife biologist brother, he told me that in areas where wolves are absent, coyotes have been getting larger and exhibiting more wolf (and wolf pack) like behavior.

Doug

dug
02-24-2009, 11:18 AM
I used to have to chase coyotes out of my yard occasionally. I also had to break up a stare down between 4-5 of them and my lab. Only when I came out of the house and called my dog in do they eventually leave.

And, on a side note, my dog always came inside and looked me with a "What? I coulda' taken 'em" look on her face.

With a small dog, I would always be concerned with Fisher Cats and Coyotes.

Chip
02-24-2009, 11:51 AM
A hiking friend told me that he saw a pack chasing a deer (Lake George area, NY).
I've watched "our" coyote push a small herd of deer through the tree farm and town open space that our yard borders. I don't know if it was ever successful or if this behavior was more instinctual, though. The pack activity we sometimes hear at night sounds more like they are trying to flush rabbit, or other small game, but they could be chasing deer (young, weak, etc).


When I repeated this to my wildlife biologist brother, he told me that in areas where wolves are absent, coyotes have been getting larger and exhibiting more wolf (and wolf pack) like behavior.

Doug
I thought DNA testing had established that the eastern coyote was a coyote/wolf hybrid (as opposed to coyote/dog or just healthier western coyotes).

DougPaul
02-24-2009, 12:06 PM
I thought DNA testing had established that the eastern coyote was a coyote/wolf hybrid (as opposed to coyote/dog or just healthier western coyotes).
Hybridization could also be a factor.

Doug

hikes-with-him
02-24-2009, 12:15 PM
I remember when we first moved to our current location (about 13 years ago)...we set a new house on a up till then uninhabited farm field. I think it was about 2 months after we had moved in...hubby was outside burning brush one night. He then came running into the house with our Shephard-mix dog on behind him. He stated that as he was standing there watching the fire, he saw one set, two set, three sets of eyes. Then he noted they were actually surrounding him...if it hadn't been for our dog coming in to distract them...he may have had a problem. On his way to the house, he saw a couple of them and they were coyotes...

We called the local game warden who stated that we had set our house right in the middle of their land...we had a little more respect and awareness after this.

Snowflea
02-24-2009, 12:23 PM
As others have said, you should probably be cautious with such a small dog. Coyotes are extremely intelligent and, like all wild animals, are merely trying to survive; i.e. they gotta eat too! I'm always amazed that people don't consider their pets FOOD in the eyes of a wild omnivorous animal.

I myself lost a beloved cat to coyotes back in Vermont a few years ago, but I still like them. Subsequent cats were strictly indoor cats. (Voila, problem solved!) A few birds and small rodents lives were probably spared as a result. But I digress.

IMHO, there is nothing wrong with being an animal lover. Not meaning to open up a can of worms here, but many people think trapping is cruel and barbaric. Just sayin'.

Where I do most of my running and hiking these days (Point Mugu State Park in southern California) there are a lot of coyotes, way more than I ever saw in New England. Pets are prohibited. Fortunately for the coyotes, there are a lot of rabbits to eat. The other day while trailrunning there, I followed a coyote. It would stop at every corner and look back to see if I was still coming. This went on for about two miles. Really cool experience. :)

sardog1
02-24-2009, 12:25 PM
I thought DNA testing had established that the eastern coyote was a coyote/wolf hybrid (as opposed to coyote/dog or just healthier western coyotes).

Yup: "Study links wolves, coyotes of Bay State (http://www.masslive.com/chicopeeholyoke/republican/index.ssf?/base/news-2/1195289413171370.xml&coll=1)."

una_dogger
02-24-2009, 03:12 PM
There were several coyotes living in the woods near my old house in NY. I lived on 60 acres adjacent to 2400 protected acres, so in essence, I had my own park.

I had a coyote once tail my dog, and on another instance, a coyote appeared at the edge of the woods and my yard and barked like a dog for a good 20 minutes before going away. I was told (and believe)that it was a pack tactic to bait out my dog.

My dog is 45 pounds and no slouch, she's a gutsy little herding dog and did a good job chasing coyotes off the farm where I lived (to protect the sheep).

I would be concerned about a small dog -- given the few experiences we had. I kept my dog in sight and on strong voice command at all times, but I let her hike offleash, and didn't curtail our daily hikes and bushwacks. If I heard pack activity, (which was a fairly often occurrence) we'd head home. And I NEVER let her outside unattended.

As was mentioned, coyotes are opportunistic hunters -- if your dog is close to you and not apt to give chase; you are probably going to be OK but I would certainly be vigilant.

Hey Chip, I have also read that eastern coyotes are closer in genetics to red wolves -- and not dog hybrids -- I think that is an urban myth.

The pack that ranged in my woods was definately working as a team. In the spring, they'd sweep the understory and flush out fawns -- very efficient. I also saw them chase and take down a deer right in the back hayfield one day while I was looking out the window. At night, they'd be very vocal, especially in the fall.

spider solo
02-24-2009, 04:50 PM
Interesting question, though we've lost a cat or two over the years to fox or coyote, maybe to a Fisher . As much as I liked the various cats they tend to be "more on the menu' than dogs.

It would be nice to see some comparisons on how many small dogs are killed by other dogs, to get a better idea on how things shape up in the canine world.
It would be also interesting to see if the dogs are killed for food or because they compete for the same food and are killed as a competitor of the available food sources.

Kevin, Judy and Emma
02-24-2009, 05:02 PM
We try to keep Emma close on the trail, but she does things her way. I think she would stand her ground and not get lured into an ambush, but we've never been in that situation so I can't say.

There is a pack near our house. We hear them at night and find their tracks on the frozen pond quite often. Emma certainly knows they're there.

Before we had Emma we had a coyote cross our path in the town forest near sundown. He was huge, well fed and had a beautiful coat. Nothing like the scrawny shaggy things you see on TV. He was magnificent and I thought for sure he must be a wolf hybrid. I almost thought at first he must be someone's pet, but as he crossed the trail he stopped, glared at us and disappeared. I knew right then it was a wild animal.

I'm glad we didn't have Emma then. This guy might have swallowed her whole. :eek:

KDT

una_dogger
02-24-2009, 07:18 PM
Hey Kevin,
I've seen some coyotes in NY that look more like wolves and nothing like thier western bretheren. Once trail riding, a coyote stepped right in front of my mare on the trail, approx 70 pounds, reddish coat, brilliant yellow eyes.

Terra was tailed by a silvery coyote, also about 70 pounds.

And one other time in the woods while bushwacking in NY near the AT/Rt 55 NY crossing; we flushed a sable coyote, nearly black in the face and paws with brilliant amber eyes.

They are certainly beautiful and come in many variations.

darren
02-25-2009, 06:27 AM
IMHO, there is nothing wrong with being an animal lover. Not meaning to open up a can of worms here, but many people think trapping is cruel and barbaric. Just sayin'.



No, nothing wrong with being an animal lover. I was just making an observation that animal lovers fought to get the traps banned and since animal lovers tend to own cats and dogs that those same people are some of the people who are losing their cats and dogs to coyotes. I just find the whole situation very ironic. I'm a dog lover myself (well, most dogs - or should I say dogs with good owners) and I certainly don't like seeing dogs like my brother's getting attacked by coyotes.

- darren

darren
02-25-2009, 06:32 AM
sardog1 - that was an interesting article.

From the study of Mass coyotes:

"They are not Western coyotes nor Eastern wolves. They are a hybrid (of the two) and probably should be classified as a new species."

Very interesting. The part about the western coyote migrating through wolf country north of the great lakes was very cool.

- darren

sardog1
02-25-2009, 07:12 AM
sardog1 - that was an interesting article.

From the study of Mass coyotes:

"They are not Western coyotes nor Eastern wolves. They are a hybrid (of the two) and probably should be classified as a new species."

Very interesting. The part about the western coyote migrating through wolf country north of the great lakes was very cool.

- darren

"Don't feed the (canid) troll" -- he's mildly obsessed with the subject matter. :rolleyes: (You probably know that eastern coyotes and wolves are hot topics these days in government agencies, academic research, and popular discussions.)

Some more reading material from my archives -- this one's now seven years old, but still good for background:

The Ecology of Northeast Coyotes (http://www.wcs.org/media/file/Ecology_of_NE_Coyotes.pdf#search=%22jakubas%20coyo te%22)

sardog1
02-25-2009, 07:19 AM
I did warn you above, and yet you still haven't shut off my access. ;)

Here's why you aren't going to see wolves hauled into the Northeast by the feds under the Endangered Species Act. (Yes, it's coyote-related.):

"The Big Bad Wolf Hybrid: How Molecular
Genetics Research May Undermine Protection for
Gray Wolves under the Endangered Species Act (http://mjlst.umn.edu/uploads/K6/d6/K6d6BJ5ZDGxf-C6h4a2t7g/adkins_g_4_24.pdf)"

mookie
02-25-2009, 07:53 AM
a bit off topic here but involves wildlife eating domestic pets...

when i lived in Douglas Mass(had 2 acres of land bordering some of the Douglast State Forest) i heard our cat screaming late one night, i grabbed a flashlight and went out to see what was going on. She was being eaten by a racoon. I yelled and threw rocks at the racoon but it wouldnt drop the cat. After shining the light in its eyes it ended up taking off with my cat in its mouth. It was pretty crazy and of course everyone thought i was crazy, people were telling me it was a coyote, not a racoon. i clearly saw it for about 45 seconds i do know the difference between a racoon and coyote. it was pretty crazy. after that i was more cautious about letting my dog out unleashed.

John Satterlee
02-28-2009, 05:52 AM
Thank-you everyone, that answered my question though not what I wanted to hear. I think that is humbling to realize that we don't have control over nature like I sometimes think we think we do.

Ever since the coyote scare, I have been afraid to let Domino outside in the yard, especially since she always barks at something in the woods. I was glad to see a feral cat out there this AM which to me is a good sign.

About pack hunting: while riding a few years ago in Foster RI, directly south of where that high pointing hiker was held at gunpoint for trying to climb RI's highpoint-I was chased by a pack of dogs from a yard of one those questionable, rundown dirtbag places. The dogs chased me and while scary as heck, in retrospect it was interesting to see how they did it, two dogs chased from the sides trying to nip and another got ahead and tried to slow me down, so just one of the others could take a bite of my down tube, the vibration of which I can still feel today.

brianW
02-28-2009, 10:00 AM
By definition a Species is a particular group of organisms that have similiar anatomical similarities and have the ability to interbreed and have fertile offspring.

By this definition maybe we should re-classify the wolf and coyote as sub-species instead of separate species. Just a thought.

I remeber the Anti-Trapping ads in MA. The traps and techniques in the ads were all illegal in MA. Besides the coyote population increase since than, the beaver and muskrat populations have also increased. Both of those have damaged farm lands, crneberry bogs, roads and private property.

We had a coyote problem raiding our chicken coop back in NH. Only thing that worked was some well placed lead. However I wished we could of solved it another way. They are truely wonderful creatures.

Dave Bear
02-28-2009, 12:43 PM
There is a very noticeable difference in the coyotes that were around twenty to thirty years ago and those we have in the area today. I grew up in the NH lakes region on a large beef farm, about 100 cleared acres and 260 woodland. We had multiple packs initially, then over time it seemed to be one big one. Once in a while you would see one cross the corner of a field or come toward the barn if a cow gave birth. They were timid and unhealthy looking. For a period of time the packs died down and it seemed like a few loners with territories. Since then it has reverted to packs of healthy animals. Now they are brave even around people and our buildings. On the family farm last fall they took down a healthy buck in the front yard between buildings and stayed to eat a hind quarter. They are braver at night but will, IMO, become more troublesome and exhibit more pack-like behaviour during the day, eventually even to us. They deserve as much cautious respect as the bears, and moose!