Friday, September 12, 2014

Coyote

Last March, as we left Apache del Bosque National Wildlife Refuge, we watched a Coyote saunter across a distant marsh. Across much of North America, including Minnesota, the Coyote is the most abundant large predator. In Minnesota, as elsewhere across their range, Coyotes are increasing.  In suburban areas, they prefer mixed farm and forest land, but also thrive in prairie and dense forest (MNDNR). As such, a lot has been written about this canine, both against and in support. 

Their cause is not helped by their killing large mammals and livestock as well as being a significant factor in waterfowl nest destruction. Because they are nomadic, with territories up to 36 square miles and because they usually move two or three miles a day, Coyotes probably do not cause as much duck depredation as do fox, which have much smaller home ranges. Fox can wipe out local duck populations.

On the other hand, mice make up a large part of their prey, and thus Coyotes contribute to a healthy ecosystem. We humans are not good at sharing our planet with predators. Nevertheless, Coyotes howling at a full moon is a haunting sound and an integral component of many wilderness camping trips.

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