Dollars to doughnuts this isn’t an Eastern coyote but since The Sun declares there’s no evidence of “coywolves” in the area (June 6), I’ll just say I took a picture of this four-footed creature in my backyard on Yosemite Valley Road in Watch Hill in February 2008. Very occasionally I would see him or one very similar to him trotting through my yard. Three years ago I began to see one very similar to that in the picture at least every season of the year. A year or so ago, I’d occasionally see a pair, one larger with grizzled fur, like the picture and the other, smaller and more gray overall.
Then last winter I began seeing the grizzled or gray or sometimes both every day around 6:30 to 7 a.m. He would trot purposefully up Walmart Ridge, mark his territory on a big white pine, then make his way along the stone wall until he disappeared into my neighbor’s yard. Sometime he’d circle around the south side of my house instead, then head out onto Yosemite Valley Road. If it was sunny, he’d sometimes stop for a sunbath on the warm asphalt at the top of my driveway before heading out toward Browning Road.
I began observing these gray or grizzled coated critters some nine years ago. At the same time I was noticing a gradual decline in red and gray fox, who give me fits loving my chickens as much as I do. The same for the occasional coyote. Deer, on the other hand, have held pretty steady. Turkeys, too, have declined somewhat but the jakes continue their year-round antics playing ring around the shrubs or ogling reflections of their handsome selves in my son’s car. Resident toms fight fiercely in early spring, running any scofflaw off the property, then quickly get back to business strutting their stuff for the dozen or so jennys who appear coy but hardly uninterested. The bobcat and fisher are once in a while visitors while skunks and opossums do their best to keep the grubs at bay.
When I first moved in, there’d be a once in a while Eastern cottontail rabbit then nothing until this spring. I now have one rabbit but my son sees loads of them of all ages out on the golf course. But there are no gray or red foxes and I haven’t seen the bobcat or fisher in ages. Squirrels and chipmunks on the other hand are another thing entirely. Both have increased exponentially and more! If a door, any door, is left ajar, chipmunks have learned to come up from the garage or through the kitchen or front door, make a beeline for my bedroom and the birdseed bin. How can they be that cheeky or that smart or that tame? If I’ve remembered to put the lid on the birdseed can, no problem, they head straight for the birdcage for a snack on sunflower seeds, meant for the house sparrow and tiny parrolet.
As for the grizzled or gray ones, they aren’t really afraid. Neither has tried for a chicken when I have them out each day — yet. I had a good 6- or 7-minute stare down maybe 15 feet apart with the smaller gray creature. She gave in and meandered off in the opposite direction of the chickens. I suspect they saw or sensed her and headed back to the coop — thank God! That never would have happened with a fox.
I no longer wonder why I’m being overrun with chippies and squirrels. Neither gray nor grizzled are fast enough to catch a squirrel, never mind a chipmunk. Steeled for attack, they don’t sneak or camouflage well. Try as they might, they just can’t get enough momentum before the squirrel is away in a flash. The question is, so what do these hefty animals subsist on? Voles? Field mice? Woodchucks? Doesn’t seem like much fare for these animals weighing roughly 30 to 45 pounds. Nope!
While baby-sitting the chickens as they happily foraged for bugs and hopefully ticks in the tall Pennsylvania sedge, our neighbor came running over to say the grizzled one had just taken an adult deer in his yard. For a moment he had the deer by the upper back leg and then he didn’t. With a quick kick and burst, the deer jumped into the pond and began swimming. Not the grizzled one! He ran to the other side of the pond, waiting, hoping, licking his chops! The deer quickly swerved around, swam back to shore and ran back in the direction she came from. For some reason, he did not follow. Did he know she was wounded and would find her later?
So, this grizzled animal is very capable of keeping deer in check but apparently not the striped critters invading my house? Would a wily coyote be capable of doing the same? I doubt it but I also don’t ever recall hearing about a scrappy coyote killing a dog. Left unguarded, I think he’d be more than happy to waltz off with a chicken or two any ol’ day of the week. This is a much larger, totally different acting beast. Does he or she feast on dogs or cats? Has any one actually witnessed the act or just heard a loud anguished wail in the night and assumed it was a gray or grizzled one looking for dinner? But why bother with a tidbit when he or she is quite capable of taking down a deer? Do I think what I took a picture of is a coywolf? Everything I’ve read describes what I saw and am seeing and says they are here, so why not?