Raw Bones probably is not the best name for a coyote but it was the first name that came to mind when I first laid eyes on him. The morning mist had not even lifted when he came to help himself to the dog’s food just outside our back door. Other animals such as coons, opossums, fox and an occasional skunk wondered in to chow down, but this was the first coyote. What a beautiful animal it was, lean and lanky and you could tell he was made for running and hunting. His fur, even though it was thick, couldn’t hide the fact that he was an older animal and was on the thin side. It was just a brief encounter but stirring nevertheless. This was the first coyote I had seen in years and to be right here in my back yard in Tennessee was exciting. I reported this sighting to some of my friends and some doubted my eyesight. A few days later, though, a coyote pack started their singing just after sundown on a nearby ridge. Now the whole town believes. Soon everyone was hearing the eerie music coming from the ridge-tops around our little town. Nightly coyote concerts are common here now.
The first recorded coyotes in Tennessee was somewhere back in the nineteen sixties. Wild life experts think that they came up through Alabama and made their way eastward. Now they have been recorded in the entire continental U.S. The coyote has become the new top predator in their territory since bears and panthers have been “controlled” in most areas. Now as the top predator the coyote inherits the bad reputation that people put on animals they don’t understand. Most people have never seen a coyote, but every thing mysterious that happens to their pets or farm animals is now blamed on el coyote. Yes, the coyote does take a few animals every year but not anywhere near the number that cats, dogs, and cars destroy. Their main duty is to control rats, mice and rabbits and they do it very well. Now that this secretive, little 35-pound dog-like creature, the Indians called little wolf, has moved in to fill the major predator role, people are concerned. They shouldn’t be alarmed. Attacks on humans are extremely rare.
The size and number of litters a mother coyote will have is directly related to how many share her territory. A female’s territory can cover about 300 square miles, so the fewer coyotes in her territory the more babies she has. Unlike bears and panthers, who only have one or two babies a year, the coyote can have five or six or even more.
I am so glad God doesn’t condemn the whole human race just because some of them break His laws. In a time when this old world seems to be falling apart let us all use some compassion and allow nature to balance itself. Continue to study God’s second book and understanding will come. See you around the next bend in the trail.
- Uncle Burney
("McDonald Manna" June, 2007)