Coyotes of Camelot
Beginning in October, the distant howling of coyotes can be heard on most late nights, especially during a full moon. This ritual will go through February. This is their courtship and mating season. At Camelot, each year, we hear one very loud male, whose deep howls are mingled with coyote barks and yips. At times he sounds like a Hyena. We believe the Camelot woodlands are his territory and his voice is different from all the rest so as to intimidate other males from the area. You see, female coyotes will select only one suitor for the season. Competition from males can be fierce.
We hear the coyotes, but have we ever seen one? Though it is rare, yes we have. A lone coyote showed up during the day one rather nasty wet and cold winter many years ago, in our back yard. The back woods were flooded from over flowing bayous and ditches. He was disoriented. As soon as he saw us however, he slipped away into the tall underbrush.
Though it is unlikely that you will ever run into a coyote face to face, because they are so shy, if you do, don't run! Scream, yell, throw rocks at him, and he will leave. The goal is for you to become the predator, in his eyes. This is how donkeys and horses scare them away. It works. I've seen my horses and donkeys do it to my german shepherds who are much biggier than a coyote!
At any rate, the coyote serenade has become something we look forward to every fall. The dogs from all around become wired and so their barks entwined with the coyote howls and yips, makes for an interesting evening concerto!
Native only to north America, Coyotes are smaller than wolves, the size of a medium dog, weighing between 20 and 50 lbs. They usually run in pack families consisting of mom and dad and offspring. When the offspring reach a year old, they leave the pack. A coyote female will usually stay with the male for at least 2 breeding seasons and in some cases for life. Coyotes are opportunistic hunters. Their diet mostly consists of wild rabbits, field mice, rats, lizards, frogs and other small wild mammals. They also eat grass and nuts and berries. Though they will of course attack and kill fowl and small animals, including sheep, they won't do so unless they see an easy opportunity. Wolves however, are larger and hunt in larger packs, and can stalk and take down much larger prey. We have never had a coyote/horse incident. Over the years I have come to understand, from our experiences at Camelot, that coyotes are not a threat to horses. They can and do co-exist peacefully. Horses are just too darn big and intimidating. I would not however chance a mare foaling out in the open during this time of year especially, nor would I place very young foals near the woodlands. However, I really would not expect an attack from a coyote pack even under those circumstances in truth. But wolves, if we had them, would be a whole other matter.