Coyotes: My Take 1/17/17

Here’s the thing. Back when I photographed my first interaction with local coyotes in the early days of the blog my stance was that coyotes are horrible and we might want to think about eradicating them (as if that’s even a possibility). Now 9 years later and living in East Gloucester where we routinely see them and hear them howling nightly. I’ve crossed paths with many coyotes since that time. They want nothing to do with us. You yell, they run. You wave your arms in the air, they really run. “Seven coyote bites recorded ever. This compares to the 4.7 million dog bites annually.” Source My stance officially changed when thinking about how much we would hear about coyote bites or deaths in the news because my line of thinking was that it would get seven day a week above the fold coverage if a person was killed by a coyote, and it just hasn’t happened. So my stance has completely changed in the past four years after realizing that while living in the heart of coyote territory in between the golf course and the seine fields that these creatures really want nothing to do with us humans unless we leave food out for them in the form of small pets. I’m sorry for the poor family that lost its pet.

The time when I nearly shit my pants coming face to face with a coyote on the Good harbor Foot Bridge-

Coyote at Good Harbor Beach 4:55AM 7/5/08

I was fumbling with my camera as I figured the coyote would take off and there would be very little time to take the picture. He did take off, and circled back to the footbridge where I snapped a lousy shot with the terrible light and the coyote moving around. Heart racing a bit making it difficult to hold the camera steady for the long exposure shot. I did my best though and this is what I came up with-

Face To Face With The Coyote On The Footbridge At Good Harbor

I nearly shit when I turned the corner on the footbridge and came face to face with the coyote.  Forgive my blurry, out of focus picture but my heart was beating a mile a minute and I wasn’t going to stick around to see what it was going to do next.  You can click the picture and select “all sizes” to see a bigger version of the shot.

Face To Face With The Coyote On The Footbridge At Good Harbor, originally uploaded by captjoe06.

Gloucester At Dawn Poor Dead Coyote On Moorland Road 4:50AM 5/22/10

This poor coyote must have gotten hit by a vehicle within the past few hours as the blood was still vibrant red.

RIP Mr Coyote.  Hope your life on the island was a good one.

There must have been quite an impact to make his eye bug out like that on one side of his head.


  • Thanks for writing this! I see them daily at it behind my house, for the street, etc.. and totally agree. Of course, they will go through garbage if left in a loose bag, as do raccoons, crows and seagulls! They are just seeking refuge and have as much right, I would argue more, as we.
    If you read @their howling and barking, their “speak” is one of the more complex of the wolf family. I love listening to them! They all stop on a dime! Don’t approach thrm and don’t leave small animals outside by themselves. Then, all should be fine!


  • Lovely photo. We are the predatory creatures. At least when they kill it is for food.


  • I feel very sorry for the family who lost their dog recently. That said, I also think that coyotes are fascinating animals. I learned a lot about coyotes by reading “Prodigal Summer” by Barbara Kinsolver. Before reading it, I thought coyotes were a threat, but the book was educational and I can see what brilliant animals they are.
    At this time of year, there is very little food for them. Keep an eye on your pets. I hope Gloucester doesn’t hunt them down and kill them.


  • I agree 100%. I have a small dog and I live in an active coyote area near goose cove. I never, ever, EVER….let her out without standing there with her, knowing that she is small enough to be preyed upon. Going out often for sunrise I encounter coyote and they always keep their distance or run away. (PS…nice early morning sillouette!! :D)


  • Paul T Morrison & RD

    Good post Joey. It is hard to change your mind on such a volatile issue as this and I know that even a dog licking some bluefish paté can set your teeth on edge but you looked at the evidence and sided with the ratioanal approach.

    The opposite mindset, hunting, trapping or poisoning coywolves on Cape Ann is a recipe for disaster. The coywolf here is not a coyote, not a wolf, but an admixture with traits selected for the niche it is now filling. One thing a pack will do if a member, especially the alpha male or female, is killed and the whole pack goes into estrous, in heat. Their numbers would skyrocket if we tried to pick off some of them. I think we could exterminate every last one but more than a few dogs would also die and the three ways to get back onto Cape Ann will always be open. Studies have shown that train tracks are the way they are moving around New England so we would have to get rid of the MBTA too.

    The coywolf here is 30% wolf, 10% domestic dog, and 60% coyote. That is the genotype, the DNA, but the phenotype, what they look like and how they act is strongly selected for a new type of species. The science taxonomy debate is what to call this animal. Since this mixture as been stable for 100 years and now does not interbreed much, quite a few taxonimists call it the coywolf. It is just filling a niche that the Puritans left empty when they exterminated the wolf from this area.

    Liked by 1 person

  • That coyote on the beach photo is phenomenal.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Well said.
    I do diverge from that a bit when we get to a urban environment. It’s hard to call Gloucester that 🙂 but on rocky neck there isn’t a lot of space and any interaction with a wild animal probably won’t go well. Personally, I can leave a coyote alone and it will run back into the woods – that isn’t an option when it will run into a neighbors garage.
    I don’t think eradicating them is right. (it is possible and I have nothing for ire for people who keep saying that killing them won’t decrease there numbers) I do think that in some cases we should limit them. I don’t have stats – but it seems like there are way more around than 10 years ago? so reducing the population – especially ones that have no fear of people seems like a good thing. Also, things that are hunted more are more scared of people… they aren’t stupid.
    We aren’t going to give them land back…
    And I really would like to see people stop vilifying a lady who let her dog outside to do his business.


  • Thank you for your thoughtful post Joey


  • hear hear! After all, the way to catch a predator is to tether a small animal as bait. Unfortunately, that is what we do when we leave a leashed pet outside.


  • Glad to hear you now have compassion for coyotes. They are just trying to survive in the only ways they know. They can’t distinguish a pet as something not on the prey list. In Yellowstone Park, the reintroduction of wolves has had a beneficial impact on the over all ecology. Hopefully coyotes can have some beneficial impact too. My hope is that we can all work to live along side our wild neighbors with respect for all creatures.


  • Unfortunately, I believe you’re all naive. Just like the photographer that finally got killed by the grizzlies he photographed, these animals will get more and more used to humans, and, in the summertime, restaurants,beaches, etc. will have a hard time keeping them away from trash.

    These animals were never in this area. Their pre-columbian range was limited to mainly the southwest. Yes, the elimination of the wolf (and mountain lion) caused their range to expand. But should we reintroduce the wolf and mountain lion to solve the fact that they have spread their range immensely? I don’t like the idea of killing them, but, unless your a vegetarian the case you are making is biased because they’re “beautiful”. We may see them as beautiful, but that is a subjective opinion and the roast beef you eat could also be considered “beautiful” when it was alive. The animals will become bolder (as in the video I posted regarding the study in Colorado) and some will begin to attack pets with their owners on short leash. It’s only a matter of time.


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