For the last couple of weeks the coyotes have been going crazy outside our house several times a night.
With the windows open, the sound comes across loud and clear.
It wakes me up, heart thumping. My first thoughts are “Are the dogs inside? Are the chickens safe?”
Then my neighbor turns on the spotlight and silence descends again.
For a little while. It isn’t just at night though: last week one was sitting by the fence when we went out for coffee at 6 a.m.
When I wrote my last column on coyotes I was focused on getting them to stay away and what the hunting regulations were. (There aren’t any - they are not a protected species.)
I promised I’d write a column about the value that coyotes bring. I’m doing the research, but I’m afraid that after weeks of interrupted sleep, I’m starting off somewhat biased.
Positive no. one: Coyotes eat mice and voles. If you have a garden, you know how the voles can dig into a garden or lawn and destroy it. Putting out castor oil or even planting castor plants is a good strategy but without the coyotes, we’d have a bigger problem than we do now.
Positive no. 2 two: coyotes eat rabbits and quail. I don’t know about you, but every morning I go out and see at least 10 rabbits in my front yard. They eat my grass, flowers, vegetables and fruit. If the coyotes weren’t there, we’d be overrun with rabbits and have no lawn or garden.
Positive no. 3: coyotes eat road kill. Maybe this explains why we never have any on our street.
Also, coyotes eat insects and lizards. We have a lot of lizards. I don’t mind them, and the lizards in turn eat a lot of insects, so that one doesn’t strike me as that positive. Maybe someone knows why lizards are a problem other than scaring me to death every time I see one because I always think it’s a snake at first glance.
That’s it. That’s all the positives I could come up with. So if anyone still wants a defensive strategy, use common sense. Don’t let small children run around by themselves in coyote country. Remember to keep your small pets inside during the day and all your pets inside at night. Bright lights on a motion sensor will scare them away, as will air horns, paint balls and rubber bullets. Keep your pet food inside and don’t throw any food outside.
Coyotes eat meat, but also fruit and vegetables. In fact, their love of watermelon is causing major problems for farmers in Texas. Keep your trash in metal cans and keep them covered. Keep your gardens fenced where possible.
We all have to work together to make our neighborhood undesirable to coyotes.
If coyotes are frequenting Ruhenstroth, it is because they are being fed and are finding food.
By working together, maybe we can all get a good night’s sleep.
Reach Karen Brier at RuhenstrothRamblings@yahoo.com, or 790-0072