Did You Know? Coyote Concerts
Mid-February through March is coyote breeding season, and if there’s one thing all Weston residents know (besides curb height, all medical facts about Covid, oh and traffic engineering), it’s that our town has many coyote residents. If you have ever woken in the night to eerie howling and yipping, that is probably not your Lincoln neighbor (well, one is questionable) but your fluffy canine neighborhood coyote and his desperate friends looking for girl coyotes.
While the sounds of coyotes can be frightening, the animal is really not out to get you. You are not easy prey and they need to conserve energy because they don’t have Eversource or your fancy Tesla house battery. As the For Fox Sake rescue says: “in pristine native ecosystems, coyotes eat a diet containing almost nothing but rodents and rabbits. Coyotes have an amazing ability to adapt their diet, though. They’re omnivores and opportunists, and will gladly eat fruits, carrion, and whatever else they manage to find when that’s what’s most readily available. Eating unnatural foods, like cats, dogs, and chickens, is a learned behavior that happens only when these animals are left in areas where they’re easy prey.”
Coyotes are not very large– though if you have ever run into one in your neighborhood, they can seem bigger than actuality due to the fear factor. I have seen one that I swore was the size of a German shepherd–that one was being actively chased by my past rescue dog Coal. Coyotes usually don’t exceed 30 pounds– and aren’t likely to take on your Newfie, or doodle whatever. Yes, it does happen–so keep your dog leashed in the woods and learn how to haze a coyote. Your outdoor cat or tiny tot doggo might need you to keep very close–a teacup yorkie is definitely a tea time snack for a coyote.
For sure I am going to get emails from people saying that they were stalked in the woods or their dog was lured away by a pack…and well, I can only tell you what the experts say. Coyotes are opportunists–and if they’re hungry, or feeling aggressive since they can’t find a date, they make a move. This time of year is when they are the most cranky–mating season. So be aware of that.
Coyotes do not “stalk” people–they will follow out of curiosity, but they are not going to hop out of a bush and gnaw your leg. And the “luring” idea? Probably not. They are running away from your dog, who is probably giving chase because they think it is fun. Where is the coyote running to? Yes, home where he can tell his mom that this mad dog is chasing him.
A coyote’s howls and yips are not to announce to their food that they plan to eat it but to communicate with one another. A coyote may howl to bond with family, meet up with a friend or relative, or warn rivals that this land is taken. Like most other predators, coyotes hunt silently by sneaking up on their prey. (Source: For Fox Sake again).
Weston has an excellent explanatory page with general information and how to haze (or frighten off) coyotes, and what season brings on what actions from our fuzzy friends. I suggest a good read of that, the Massachusetts information sheet on Living with Wildlife, plus the absolutely fantastic presentation called Living with Coyotes given by John Maguranis at the Weston Police Station a couple of years ago. Coyotes may not be transported or “re-homed” in Massachusetts– so live with them or leave. They’re staying. Or as I like to say “find the joy in the coyotes –if you don’t, you’ll have the same coyotes, but less joy.”
One way to find the joy is from this story about a coyote having a very bad day three years ago here in Weston:
Enjoy your nighttime serenade. These beautiful animals don’t have Tinder for swiping right–they have to find their partners the old-fashioned way.