Every Wednesday on our Facebook page we have WildSouth Wednesdays – a day we highlight the wonderful WildSouth organization by showcasing some of the wild animals they work to protect. We publish a picture of the animal, offer clues or some fun facts, then hand it over to our fabulous FB fans to guess what it is! This week’s WildSouth Wednesday critter was the Coyote, and even we learned something from them! So much so, we want to share it with you guys. After all, who hasn’t heard the faint howl of the coyote in the middle of a camping trip?!
While once being rare in the Eastern parts of the US, coyotes can now be found from the hot and sticky wetlands of Florida, all the way to the freezing tundra of Alaska. Although this is partially to do with their superior adaptability, the coyote is also filling an important ecological niche due to the disappearance of the gray and red wolves.
Although this means balancing out the population of meso-carnivores (critters like raccoons, opossums and feral cats), it is not uncommon for coyotes to stray too close to urban areas, causing havoc with neighborhood pets and scaring city dwellers. But the coyotes are not all bite – in fact, they’re virtually harmless, being more afraid of us than we are of them.
To help improve their street cred, here are some positives to the coyote that we may have previously overlooked –
1) They’re the only megacarnivores in the Southeastern states, meaning they help keep the population of prey (like rodents) in check.
2) They can make the population of their prey healthier, as they reduce the number of sick and weak animals.
3) Native vegetation can thrive as the coyotes prey on the deer and other grazing animals that can overgraze it.
4) Coyotes prey on many species that carry rabies or other diseases – like mice, rats, raccoons and opossums.
5) Our ecosystem is healthier with them.
6) Coyotes have also been known to decrease the number of carnivores that prey on ground-nesting birds. So, if you are a grouse, turkey, or pheasant fan, then the coyote is your friend!
After reading the perks of coyotes, and realizing they may not be that bad after all, try out these tips so that awesome image they now have sticks
1) Feed your pets inside and bring them inside at night – leaving food outside may coax those coyotes closer to you than you’re comfortable with, and dawn and dusk is when they’re at their most active.
2) Secure your compost pile so coyotes or other critters can’t rummage around in their when you’re not looking.
3) Keep a clip on your garbage can, and don’t put it out onto the curb until the morning of pick up – this can also protect you from wandering foxes or even bears!
4) Keep your lawn mowed – high grasses can encourage rodents to live in it, and what eats rodents?! Those ‘Yotees!
Coyotes are here to stay whether you like it or not, but hopefully after reading up on them, they’re not as bad as you may have thought! So next time you’re lying in your hammock camp late at night, deep in the woods, and you hear that familiar howl, don’t be scared, remember all the good things they’re doing for us !
For more information and to get a glimpse of all the wonderful things Wild South do for us and our environment, head over to their Web site!