Know Thy Enemy

My mini vacation from blogging duties has come to its end. Truth be told, I have not written a new blog entry since January. Thanks to the scheduling capabilities in WordPress I was able to write all 6 of the February posts in January and simply queue them up for release at various times throughout the month. I even added an additional book recollection post to kick off the March posts just in case I did not get back in the swing of things in time. Enough slacking, it’s time to get back into the groove. The good news is the blogging downtime was filled with working on the photo backlog. While hunting for the Maine vacation pictures I stumbled on a set of Wildlife Prairie Park pictures we took last year. Those turned out pretty nice so I figured you might want to see some of them. This particular set focuses on an animal that is not one of my favorites.

For the city dwellers, this specimen before you comes from the coyote family. Unfortunately, I do not remember the specific species, but will make a point to track that down the next time we visit Wildlife Prairie Park. One might be under the impression that I as an avid Wolf enthusiast would have an equal affinity to these particular animals. This likely due to them both having four paws, a tail, tend to group in packs and have other similar canine features. If you happen believe this, it is my sad obligation to inform you that you are wrong. There are a few outward differences, the main one being stature. Wolves are generally much larger than coyotes and their legs tend to be longer relative to their overall body size (this is actually my first indicator when trying to distinguish the two).

To see the rest of the coyote collection, just hit the jump

The real difference comes in their social structure.  Wolves have a very structured social hierarchy which consists of a single breeding pair – the alpha male and the alpha female of the pack.  As a result, their pack population is throttled by the success of that particular breeding offspring.  Granted, this structure has resulted in an extinction scare, but thanks to the diligent efforts of others (along with my donations) have stabilized their numbers for the time being.  Coyotes on the other hand do not have the same breeding structure which means their population tends to outgrow their regions.  This means this coyote along with a large number of fellow pack members are less afraid of man and have a habit of invading our spaces.

With the absence of wolves in Illinois, the coyote is essentially second on the food chain and therefore thrive quite nicely.  This does not bode well for the local critters such as squirrels, rabbits and raccoons who often find themselves staring straight into their bloodthirsty eyes.  oh, almost forgot … THEY ALSO LIKE SMALL POODLES as a dessert after a particularly difficult kill.

Now that particular piece of trivia brings nightmares to Linda.  Couple that with owls and snakes falling from the sky into convertibles and you are basically left with a woman at the edge.  Thanks to their hunting parties, Linda and I are forced to keep close tabs on our two show poodles (all of 5 and 10 pounds) which includes hanging close to them when they have to go out at night.  One of these creatures even had the nerve to walk across our backyard one afternoon.  Lucky for it, the guns were too far away.  I do not deny that a wolf wouldn’t enjoy a poodle tart, but I doubt it would be walking up to our backdoor to ask if Kerby and Rizzi would like to come out on a plate.. I mean out to play.

Just to put things into perspective, our neighbor had a close call with one of their dogs.  They had installed an invisible fence to keep their dog contained (for its own safety).  Keep in mind we live in the country so the dog actually had the run of multiple acres before it gave way to the deep woods.  One day they looked out and their dog was at the extent of the electric fence barking at an object sitting some distance straight out from it.  Closer inspection identified the object as a coyote intent on trying to lure the dog out to it.  Perplexed by the dog’s unwillingness to engage (due to the fence), the coyote was slowly creeping towards their dog in hopes of breaking the deadlock.  By this time our neighbor had fetched his rifle.  At some point in the process he checked his field of vision and noticed a very intriguing situation (or a nightmare depending on your perspective).  There were actually two other coyotes sitting off on the sides just waiting to trap the dog in a circle of death the minute it took off for the bait.  Clever and deadly, a bad combination to have roaming your woodlands.  The good news is he was able to scare them off with the rifle (don’t think he was able to hit any of them).  The bad news is they have likely grown confident enough to try again and this time might have lookouts at the street to know when the dog’s owners are away.

To this point I’ve only captured one other coyote on my fieldcams, but at least once a week their war howls ring throughout the night causing our little ones to nuzzle in nice and close.  Long story short, they are great subjects to admire and shoot when they are in a controlled environment (like Wildlife Prairie Park) and a great subject to shoot when their travels come too close to the homestead.  Only one of those scenarios refers to a camera.

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