Friday, August 28, 2009

Coyotes on Leave

When we first moved in, two different neighbors warned us about the coyotes and that our outdoor cats would be in danger. We were not terribly concerned. Rosie and Athena survived the first summer here without being gobbled up or even bitten or clawed.

This summer, we have not heard the coyotes. No howling. No yipping. Just occasional barks from neighborhood dogs. But no coyotes.

Gary thinks Athena chased them off. Not in a confrontational sort of way: "This is now my territory and it's time for you varmints to vacate!" But she is hunting. The prey is going into Athena's tummy. There isn't as much left. Why should the coyotes hang around here if Athena ate their supper? Plenty of gophers available half a mile away.

Awesome kitty!! Here's hoping for long life and good health for the huntress.

Wow -- she gets rid of a pack of coyotes.... Wow.


  1. Susan,

    Not to denigrate Athena's reputation, but I highly doubt her hunting has taken that high a toll on the prey within the typical coyote pack's large territory. A single cat cannot provide that much competition, and coyotes love to hunt cats.

    Unless there is a large coyote population in your neck of the woods, you'll find coyote packs generally roam over quite a large area. They'll probably return sooner or later. There are years and times of the year when we hear coyotes quite regularly, and there are times when we don't. The time we hear them the most is when they happen to have a den of pups nearby.

    Never has the presence of coyotes seemed in any way related to our feral cat population. In fact, over the last two years, we had an explosion of feral cats on our farm. We counted over 75 cats one day last summer. Thankfully, the population crashed last fall and winter. We're down to one male cat at present, and he is doing a good job of chasing any strays out of his little territory around our house and barn. But he better watch out for the coyotes. I figure they took down quite a few of his siblings and cousins. The main reason he is probably still alive is that he stays pretty much right by the house and in the barn, rarely hunting, except on joint hunting excursions he takes with our dog.

    Through all that change in cat population over the past couple years, which I am sure decimated our local mouse population, we have not noticed any general changes in the overall coyote presence in our area. If anything, the presence of so many cats probably provided extra food for the coyotes. Cats are somewhat of a delicacy to coyotes. ;-) Believe me, the nutrition and pleasure Athena would provide to a mother and her pups would easily make up for all the mice a single cat could steal from their territory.

    Back when I had 160+ sheep, I used to reduce the coyote population around here through hunting. Once, just before lambing time, a couple friends and I were out on the back 40 hunting a pack of coyotes. We used a tape of a squealing squirrel to attract them. We heard lots of howling from all directions, but none came within our vision. After it got too dark we gave up, unloaded our guns, and started walking back to the house. I noticed our back porch light had kicked on, and wouldn't you know -- while we were out in the area where the coyote den was, those wily coyotes had sneaked all the way around behind us and were chasing one of our cats around the kids fenced-in play yard! They saw us coming and jumped the fence and got away before we could reload. Our cat was lucky we showed up and scared them away. Cats rarely survive attacks by coyotes. This taught me how much coyotes like cats. Within the next week, I shot two coyotes I found sneaking around the 10 acres right around our house.

    Now that I don't have sheep anymore, I actually desire to have lots of coyotes around. They keep the cat population down, not to mention the coons and other pests. Plus, I love the sound of them howling at night. :-)

    Peace and blessings to all the Gehlbachs from the Heidenreichs!


  3. Dr H, I loved reading your farm stories! My husband read it too, and his response was, "Hey, he doesn't know our cat!" LOL. I know you've got a point ...

    but boy oh boy, did we laugh uproariously over Nat's link!!!! Not only has Athena cleared our yard of rabbits and many mice and gophers, but come to think of it, the cat population around here has drastically decreased too. Maybe Athena also ran off the kitty-treats that the coyotes like to snack on?