The Trickster Shinau-av (Coyote)
Just before dawn, I pass our neighbor George on his morning walk. He is using the two sticks that he carries for protection against “Brother Coyote.” It’s a good reminder that the prairie wolf is on the loose in Ruhenstroth.Call me a city girl, but when I hear those eerie calls at midnight, I get a shiver down my spine. I’m not the only one listening.Cheryl Perretta says that she woke many times to see coyotes circling her chicken pen before she parked an RV on one side. Her chickens are fenced in top and sides and the fence is buried a foot deep. She has a wooden coop for nighttime safety and hasn’t lost any chickens. She did say they lost a cat when they moved here 10 years ago, but other cats have fared better.I hear them most nights. They could be after rabbits or quail or even fruit. I’ve found several gnawed windfalls that could be coyote teeth — or really big rabbits.I didn’t know coyotes had such varied tastes: they’re highly adaptable and will eat anything they can find. This is probably why coyotes are increasing in number, while larger predators are dwindling. USDA Wildlife Services traps and kills over 90,000 a year. That’s in addition to harried homeowners and ranchers working to protect their pets and livestock. Since coyotes are not a protected species, you can hunt them without a license as long as local firearm regulations are obeyed.Before we start shooting, there are good proactive steps to implement:Keep trash in covered, heavy duty containers Keep smaller pets inside or fenced Feed pets inside Keep the yard clean and enclose porches and decks Eliminate potential food and water sources, like fallen fruit and standing waterI don’t like the idea of using repellents that might hurt my dogs or family. Forget about using bright lights because, despite the spooky coyotes slinking through the night, I like it dark to see the stars. And I could never set traps –I’m too forgetful and I’d probably wander into it myself. I spoke to one of our neighbors who has goats, sheep and horses. He’s seen coyote walking along the road in front of the house a time or two, but he thinks they’re usually a lot further out than they sound.No matter how far away, I’d rather be safe than sorry, so we’ll be putting up a good fence. Stretching and trenching that much fence is going to be a lot of work. Sitting out on my porch in the dark, listening to the howls and yips from the pack, I think it will be worth it.As always, please let me know if you have news or notes or events — or just come sit on the porch with us; you’ll find us there for all the sunsets.Reach Karen Brier at RuhenstrothRamblings@yahoo.com, or 790-0072.