Tag Archives: Eastern Coyote

The Coyote Controversy Continues

Coyote Massachusetts,canis latrans ©Kim Smith 2014

Joey forwarded the following information and links from an editorial that was recently posted on “North Shore Nature News.” We’ll post the first several paragraphs from the editorial, and the comment from Jim Schmidt that Joey found particularly interesting. In fairness to the author, the See More, directs the reader back to the original editorial.

“In Nancy Gurney’s classic children’s book, “The King, the Mice and the Cheese,” a king brings in cats to get rid of the mice eating his cheese. He then brings in dogs to get rid of the cats. Lions to get rid of the dogs. Elephants to get rid of the lions. And, finally, mice to get rid of the elephants.We find ourselves in similar straights with the eastern coyote.

Wolves once occupied the top of the area’s food chain. But we hunted them into near extinction. So, with no wolves in the area, coyotes began to enter the commonwealth in the 1950s as the food chain’s top dog. DNA evidence shows the coyotes mated with what was left of the wolves and with dogs. The cross breeding created the eastern coyote, a larger version of what wildlife experts now call the western coyote.
The coyote is bolder and more adaptable than the shier, more reclusive wolf. So, instead of confining itself to rural areas, as the wolf once did, the coyotes occupy rural, suburban and urban habitats. Add the fact that Massachusetts loses an estimated 40 acres a day of rural land to development and it’s inevitable the human and the coyote worlds will collide.” – See more at: Ipswich Wicked Local


Comment from Jim Schmidt:

“I have 54 years of first hand and face to face experience with coyotes. I retired as a fulltime USDA government coyote specialist recently. I have dealt with coyotes in New York, South Carolina, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. Many remarks in this editorial are very incorrect. Coyote are dangerous wild predators. They are smart, problem solving, professional killers. They kill and eat everything too.

They DO NOT have to be rabid to be dangerous. Look up the “Biting Coyote of Green Valley, Arizona” as an example. This unprovoked coyote attacked and bit 8 adult people. The media and local medical professionals claimed it “must be Rabid” and it was not. How do I know? I was the one that removed him. Coyotes have a very low history of rabies too. I know first hand that coyotes will attack any size animal if it wishes. Three coyotes attacked and killed a large Rottweiler dog while the owner was walking it and another large dog. They killed and ate it-I was there again.

How do they kill a horse you ask? They will run it until it over heats and stops and often lies down and they take them. I have seen it again. They stand at the rear of a cow or horse giving birth and attack and kill the newborn when it hits the ground. Goats, sheep, chickens, cats, apples, water melons, garden hoses, and much more are at risk all the time…basically nothing is safe from the clever coyote. This dangerous animal will never be on welfare as it can take care of itself better than anything I know of or experienced.

I encourage you to learn the truth about coyotes not fantasies. They are a marvel of nature and they are in your state and community now. This is a professional dangerous killer for sure.” Jim Schmidt – See more at: Ipswich Wicked Local


Rockport Reader Submits Coyote Photo

Thank you so much Sandra for sending your photo.

Note to readers interested in submitting a locally spotted coyote: Please don’t be concerned about the quality of the image. I think it is very helpful to collect documentation while we are learning as a community how to address the growing coyote problem. Please provide location and time of day.

Send photos to: kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. Thank you!

photo0440_001 2

Hi Kim,

Saw your coyote post on Good Morning Gloucester, with note to send photos.

We woke one morning early in December to see this coyote not 50 feet away,under our neighbors’ apple tree, having breakfast!  South St., Rockport.  We are newcomers to the area, had heard about and heard coyotes at night, but this was something we did not expect to see during the day. Not the greatest picture, but at least documented!  

Today! The Eastern Coyote in New England Sponsored by Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary Sat, Jan 11, 2014

I hope Kim Or Paul or both go to this and get some interesting info to share.

This is what I know about coyotes:
If there was a child attacked by a coyote the news media would blast it all over the place but you don’t hear about those incidents so that gives me a little comfort.

On the other hand if you have a pulse and can see then you have most definitely seen an uptick from no coyote sightings 10 years ago to weekly sightings today.

I understand there are people who would rather see people’s pets eaten rather than take some type of action. I just hope that the current trends of seeing them more and more during the day and seeing them more often doesn’t end up turn into something where people can’t even go for a walk.

Maybe the answer is to walk around with a tazer? “Don’t taze me bro!”

The Eastern Coyote in New England
Sponsored by Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary
Sat, Jan 11, 2014 10:00 am – 11:00 am

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, Topsfield

Christine Schadler – Wild Canid Ecologist and New England representative for Project Coyote, a national group promoting coexistence with coyotes.


Adult $8.00

Adult $10.00
The howling in New England has returned! Since 1900, when the eastern wolf retreated into southern Ontario, our woods have not known a top predator. Since the 1940s, however, the bark and howl of the eastern coyote has resonated from pasture to mountain. Today, thousands of coyotes occupy New England, but unlike their smaller western cousin, our coyotes are part wolf, can hunt in packs to take deer, and are filling the niche of the wolf. Come learn about the natural history of this adaptable mammal and get answers to any questions or concerns you may have from an expert. How we rethink our woods as a domain to be shared will ultimately determine our success in adapting to life with this amazing predator.

Make it a day – bring a bag lunch and sign up for Tracking Predators with Bob Metcalfe in the afternoon from 12:30-4:30 pm.

Instructions and Directions:

Meets in the Barn.
Registration is required.
Call to register 978-887-9264.
Register by mail: program registration form (PDF 66K)

For your own security, DO NOT send credit card information via email.
For more information, contact:

Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary
87 Perkins Row
Topsfield, MA 01983

Coyotes, Red Foxes, and Lyme Disease in Massachusetts

Are Coyotes the Cause of an Increase in Lyme Disease?

Struck by the recent interest in coyotes after the fascinating video Two Coyotes Versus One Deer  by Shawn Henry was posted on GMG, I became interested in reading various studies and reports about coyotes, wolves, and foxes in Massachusetts and the Northeast. My primary interest at the onset was of concern for the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), which has seen a tremendous decline in numbers. I wondered if the presence of coyotes (Canis latrans) was negatively impacting the Red Fox. In the past, I often saw a Red Fox in the early morning hours trotting along the shoreline at Brace Cove. I wish so much that I had filmed the last one that I saw because it was a gorgeous scene; a strikingly beautiful creature so completely unaware of my presence and so at home in its realm, investigating rock and seaweed, pausing to sniff the air, and then resuming its journey. The last time I saw a Red Fox in our neighborhood was over three years ago. As I was reading about coyotes I learned the findings of some of the most recent studies indicate that because Eastern Coyotes out-compete the Red Fox, the coyotes are the cause of an increase in Lyme disease. More on that in a moment.


The coyotes that now inhabit every region in Massachusetts are an invasive species. They are a hybrid cross species of the Western Coyote (found west of the Mississippi) and Red Wolf (Canis lupus rufus). “Researchers now believe that the Eastern Coyote is a hybridization between the Western Coyote and Red Wolf many generations ago in the upper Great Lakes region of the United States. It is theorized that as populations of the Western Coyote increased, they were forced to move east and north in search of food. As they moved into Minnesota they crossbred with Gray/Red Wolves and produced a genetically hardy animal able to sustain itself through New England winters.” (Mass Audubon)

Coyotes are not “re-populating” this region because this new species was never in our region.

Eastern Coyotes have extremely broad food habits and many factors affect the coyotes’ diet, including competition with other mammals, abundance of prey, season, and weather. In the Northeast, their diet consists of shrews, rabbits, voles, woodchucks, mice, deer, beaver, muskrat, weasels, squirrels, and carrion. And according to Mass Audubon, “They eat ground-nesting birds and their eggs, as well as reptiles and amphibians. When other prey is scarce they will eat a variety of insects including grasshoppers, beetles and cicadas. When animal matter is scarce, they will eat available fruits including apples, cherries, grapes, and strawberries.”

The rapid invasion of the alien Eastern Coyote has negatively impacted many sympatric native species, as the coyote has assumed the role of top-order predator. The coyote has fundamentally altered the existing ecosystem and various species have experienced population declines as a direct result of their role as coyote prey or from direct competition for food. “Culturally and ecologically significant species including Red Fox decline dramatically in response to increasing coyote populations. Eastern Coyote and Red Fox share many common habitat requirements and occupy overlapping niches. Through time, the larger and more resilient coyote is able to out-compete and displace resident fox populations.” (Department of Natural Resources, Maryland.)

Studies have shown repeatedly that Eastern Coyote predation on deer is minimal. Most herds can handle the coyotes. Typically coyotes have success with fawns that are 4-5 weeks old (after they have become more active and are not by the mother’s side), weakened and sickly adults, and deer separated from the herd. These targets represent approximately one or two percent of the total deer population. While coyote diet studies show consistently the use of deer for food, it does not appear that coyote limit deer population on a regional scale.

Although the population of White-tailed Deer has stabilized, Lyme disease continues to increase. In June of 2012 researchers at the University of California Santa Cruz published their findings from the study “Deer, Predators, and the Emergence of Lyme Disease.” (Taal Levi, lead author.)

The study found that once where there was an abundance of Red Foxes, there is now an abundance of Eastern Coyotes.  Even more significantly, fewer coyotes will inhabit an area once populated by more foxes. The greater number of foxes would have consumed a larger number of small tick-bearing animals, primarily White-footed Mice, Short-tailed Shrews, and Eastern Chipmunks, all of which transmit Lyme disease bacteria to ticks. It appears as though it is the Red Fox that once kept the population of these smaller rodents under control.


Even when there is a threefold rise in deer population, study after study now shows that the strongest predictors of a current year’s risk of Lyme disease are an abundance of acorns two years previously. How does that work?

Many acorns = many healthy mice and chipmunks.

Many healthy mice and chipmunks  = many tick nymphs.

The following year when it may not be a bumper acorn crop = fewer mice.

Fewer mice and chipmunk = dogs and humans become vectors for the ticks.

While acorns don’t serve as a universal predictor because Lyme disease can be traced to forests where there are no oak trees, the data suggest that food sources and predators of small forest mammals are likely to be valuable in predicting Lyme disease risk for humans.


To summarize, multiple studies suggest that the invasive Eastern Coyote out-competes and kills the native Red Fox population, which leads to a rise in the number of small animals particularly the White-footed Mouse and Eastern Chipmunk, which in turn leads to an increase in ticks that carry Lyme disease. The impact of the Eastern Coyote on native deer population is negligible. And, as many family’s can attest, the impact of the Eastern Coyote on populations of domestic cats and small dogs has been devastating.

Typically the excuse given for unwanted encounters with wildlife is that people are encroaching on the animal’s habitat. That simply is not the case with the Eastern Coyote. The Eastern Coyote is advancing on humans–and they like what they see; no large predators, a reluctance on the part of people to hunt and trap, and an abundance of food. The environmentally and culturally destructive chain reaction caused by the Eastern Coyote invasion is taking on added urgency as the coyote strikes closer and closer to home.

It is legal in the state of Massachusetts to shoot and kill a coyote from your home. If confronted by a coyote, make as much noise as possible, if attacked, fight back aggressively.

Images courtesy Google image search.