Friday, April 10, 2009

^%*@#*&_* wildlife!!

Warning: War Wounds!

As an update to the post a couple of days ago: Meg and the boys got harassed one more time by the coyote in our section of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. Except this time, it followed them around a 2mile loop making repeated runs at them over the course of 45mins. I should add that the coyote is hanging out at a bottleneck in the trail system, so once you enter that section of the park, you can't easily get past her. When it finally came in too close, the boys went after her -- a tussle ensued, she left with a limp, and it wasn't till they got home that I discovered that in addition to a small bite on the tail, the Mominator had a puncture wound on his inner thigh.

The tooth went in between the skin layer and the muscle -- and even after his surgery his gait is showing no signs of impact. But it was long enough that, in addition to the stitches, the vet put in the two drain tubes -- which are actually what makes it look worse (at least from my perspective). So he leaks a little from time to time, but other than feeling a little disgruntled because we won't let him clean his own leakage, he seems fine. Sadly Momo is used to wearing the original E-collar, his Elizabethan collar - and so in addition to his Franken-foot, he will now have a Franken-thigh. Looking at that wound makes me glad he was neutered.

As human beings have subsumed more and more natural habitat, coyotes are one of the species that have been forced to adapt into increasingly small pockets of habitat. And are remarkably adept at making those transitions. The Audobon Magazine has even described them as the 'ultimate survivor' (and thanks to Pat the Terrierman for helping me find this). Here in the northeast, the coyote tends to be larger than its southern and western cousins perhaps in part because of climate -- or perhaps because it has more recently paired with the wolf population. In any case, Meg described this one as resembling a large German Shepherd.

At some point, coyotes were diurnal -- although pressure from humans has forced them to become almost nocturnal. I am not sure how specific she was in referring to the population here in our part of the Bronx, but the naturalist from the Parks & Recreation department described coyote behavior as crepuscular, ie. most active during the twilight of the dawn and dusk hours. Which would explain why Meg first encountered this coyote in the crack-of-dawn but not in the subsequent afternoon.

After the first encounter I had speculated that this was a female coyote whelping pups on the ground, although the naturalist suggested that she may have been pregnant and being especially territorial as she tried to find a location to den up and whelp. While I have heard enough direct experience stories to know this isn't the entire story, the fact that we choose to run our dogs off-leash may have generated an especially strong defensive response from this particular animal -- seeing them as a potential threat in a way that Meg alone, or Meg with the two dogs on-leash, would not have generated. Again, though, this was also a coyote who demonstrated an especially aggressive and persistent defensive posture -- and it was her coming too close to Meg that sparked a response from our two. Momo's wound, it should be noted, is much more of a defensive wound than the coyote's usual neck bite when it is intent on actually killing something. We have still applied for a Federal bail-out to deal with the vet bill.

When Meg called Parks & Recreation, she learned that others had reported problems with the coyote, too, and that in fact there was a pair denning about a half-mile away on a golf-course. The golf course workers actually liked them being there because they kept the geese (and their stinky poop) away. We asked about why they hadn't at least posted a sign so folks like us could at least make an informed decision -- and when they had last posted signs some years ago, coyote carcasses just started showing up in the woods. I hope folks can tell that I am somewhat ambivalent about what the best course of action here is with regard to the actual coyote -- we don't keep livestock, for example -- but the idea of John Rambo in the Bronx out here in a public park area with a firearm in the dawn and dusk makes me a whole lot more nervous.

In any case, here's a few words of advice for those of you in the northeast:
* This is the whelping season. Coyotes will defend their whelping grounds and their pups.
* Coyotes will look for a secluded area, probably wooded, here in the northeast to establish a den. If you normally run your dogs off-leash in such areas and have seen evidence of coyotes (such as scat with a high amount of hair in it), it would make sense to either avoid those areas or leash your dogs for the next couple of months.
* Carry a big stick. If you encounter an aggressive coyote, heel your dogs in close, make noise, throw sticks. And back out of there. No matter how big or brave you think your dog is, it doesn't kill its own food every day. With very few exceptions, your dog will lose.

Some of those exceptions would be the Central Asian guardian dogs -- like Cat Urbikit's Aziats. As you can see from one of her more recent posts, these big monsters can be lovers, too. Now we need a bigger house to house the vizslak and their new-found canine protectors.


On a lighter note: here's the picture I was waiting for. Every good Scotsman needs a West Highland Terrier as a wedding accessory. And a loving wife to take care of him and his punctured dogs.


Chazz said...

WOW!! sorry to hear bout the dog. Tough pooch. Great post with all the info about the yotes.

Meg said...

Andrew, hon - even though I *lived* it, reading about it in print gets me shaking my head - - she pursued us around the 2 mile loop! Whoa, pretty crazy, isn't it?!

I also want to add to Andrew's post that after Momo got that bite, I called our friend Greg, who also walks his two dogs off-leash around the same time and same area. He left me a message that seemed to put all the pieces into place for him: seems his 70 lb. black lab mix wandered into the woods that same day and as she emerged, he thought he saw a German Shepherd behind her. When they returned home, he noticed she was bleeding and had a bunch of scrapes - no punctures, like Momo though. Hope this doesn't happen to anyone else...

Mntmaniac said...


I had a close call would have chuckled witnessing me sprinting across the prairie in cumbersome rubber boots, firing a blank pistol and yelling at the top of my lungs in panic as well as 40 mph winds.

Coyotes are quickly losing thier novelty with me.

Winter Bicycles said...

Pup punctures- while unfortunate in their own, are better then the other options.

Our pooch suffered a leg munch at day care with similar results, and also tuffed off a pair of pits in SLC that wwere headed for Karen (albeit his loss of innocence).

Glad Karen, and Meg, were not the ones with the chomp marks.

Good healing thoughts to the pup!

Dan & Margaret said...

whew.. I looked at the picture and thought your were going to write that the dog was neutered by the coyote! Our dogs get their wounds, so far at least, from inanimate objects.. ie: barbed wire, although, as you read, the coyotes were out in force here recently, but our season is just about over so the threat will be minimal. Then I only have to worry about rattlers in the yard ;)

redgirls-in-scotland said...

oi! that is a SCOTTISH TERRIER - not a westie. ANDREW!!! (says Di)

Redgirls say oh poor hurting Momo. We are sorry to hear about your encounter with Mr Nasty Coyote. Across the miles we are kissing you better. Hugs from your solicitous wee pals - the redgirls XXX

Dennis the Vizsla said...

Yikes! Glad the damage wasn't worse!

The "coy dogs" that we had back in upstate New York were definitely larger (and scarier-looking) than the coyotes we see out here in California.

Shawn K. Wayment, DVM said...


I hope Mo-Mo gets well soon! I hate those coyotes too. I'd like to "smoke-a-pack-a-day" with my rifle! I've had Gretchen chased many times out here in Colorado!

Love your photo with the Scottish attire! I hope you had a riot over there!

Have a great week and my best to Mo and yours!


laura said...

with all the dangers of big city living, who knew coyotes would be added to the mix. makes some of the weird activity in our park (strange men in the trees) seem quite tame. glad momo is recovering--and meg, run home when a wild animal is pursing you.

dave said...

Fascinating post. I hope Momo gets well soon and I'm glad it wasn't worse.

Coyotes in the Bronx? Hard to believe. I don't remember any coyotes when I was in NYC. But that was in Manhattan. And it was the 1980's.

Anonymous said...

Gosh I completely missed this post. Hope he gets better soon. It looks very sore.

mdmnm said...

Whoa! "^%*@#*&_* wildlife!!" indeed! I wouldn't have expected trouble with a 'yote in the city. Hope you guys have a speedy recovery without any undue trouble.

Todd Little-Siebold said...

Andrew -
Sorry to hear about Momito's run in with the coyote. As you know, up here in Maine there is a raging debate about deer and coyotes
I was out with my boy (Pedro), who is not a regal viszla but a half-Guatemalan/half-Georgian mix on Easter and came across the signs of the wily coyote, but it was just an Easter walk.
Hope you all are well, and it sounds like life is well

Andrew Campbell said...

Thanks to everyone for the best wishes. Momo had the drain tube taken out today -- and everything seems to be healing up as normal. he'll get his stitches out next week and then hopefully will be able to run and romp as normal.


Delilah and Rocket said...

Wow! that really sucks. Vizsla cuddles and healthy thoughts to Momo for a speedy recovery. Delilah is currently sporting 5 staples in the side after slamming into the picnic table running full tilt and playing tug with her brother at the same time .... it was a sweet $204 emergency vet visit. I'm really behind in the blogville hopefully I'll get something up soon. Been working on the cafe website Cheers!

Delilah and Rocket said...

Almost forgot ..... GREAT PIC of you & Meg with the little black fluff ball! The dog surely completed the ensamble.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes to the Momonator - here's hoping he and Meg have less 'eventful' walks in the future.

In the years I lived and hiked with the Leonbergers we ran into coyotes, a bear and once even a wolf. My two, wonderful, calm, fearless, giant boys kept them at bay every time. Once my arms have healed, I plan to get another molossor dog. They do a better job than my little stock dogs at keeping critters at bay. And, well... I really like having the giant beasties around.

Stephanie said...


Benny, the Cairn Terrier, thinks he is the ONLY Terrier you should be spending time with not some Scottish Terrier - ick! ;)

I LOVE the kilt! Could you wear that to one of our Hunt Tests?