Sunday, May 20, 2012

    Land of the Song dog
            Having chased coyotes for many years, I have developed respect for the wise canine. Recent news stories have painted a dreary picture of the coyote. While walking a small dog in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco a coyote encounter recently occurred. On the news the anchor persons announce coyotes are causing trouble in the Bay Area attacking pets. Truth is there are many more horror stories involving pet dogs attacking people. There have even been people mauled by pets. In the Denver suburb of Greenwood village in 2008 a fourteen year old boy said he was charged by a coyote in a park. Police responded and lured in coyotes with distressed rabbit calls shooting them while they came into view. Police killed a dozen song dogs in a year’s time and wounded many others despite the fact the 14 year old boy was uninjured from the reported charge.
                  I am not saying these animals are perfect. In fact, when they run together in a group they can be trouble. Coyotes will take a calf or young deer when the opportunity presents itself. For the most part they are surviving wild animals like any other. Their value in rodent control may outweigh the damage they cause to live stock. I have respectively listened to many ranchers and acknowledge they have more experience than me living with coyotes. Many ranchers acknowledge the rodent control value coyotes provide. I have had no incidents with aggressive coyotes myself when chasing them, and I have sure chased them. Song dogs are an extremely expressive animal letting you know when they are angry, cocky, or even content. I once approached two coyotes at a fallen steer in a wide open prairie with no trees. They watched me for quite some time as I slowly approached them. As I approached I watched them attempt to intimidate me by standing tall, walking toward me to see my reaction. When I was finally at a close distance, they retreated. They have an unbelievable talent to cut and run, knowing there is always tomorrow. These photos have been taken in Contra Costa County mostly in the Marsh Creek, Vasco, Morgan Territory areas. The winter coat dog was in the Lafayette area. Including some other species in open foothill or prairie areas including a ground squirrel, rattle snake and swainson hawk.

 “The spirit of the song dog is alive and well.” It races across the canyons and mountains, wanders through the most pristine prairies. It will swim through the bluest streams and lakes. It will take only what it needs to survive and endeavor to persevere against all odds and circumstances with tremendous cunning and unadulterated freedom.” 

          “The Buffalo will disappear, then man shall be gone and there will be total darkness. And in that darkness the unmistakable call of the song dog will be heard.”

     This was a Lakota Sioux legend long before their society was forever changed. It seems today the prediction is not far off the mark. Despite being trapped, shot, poisoned and listed as an absolute nuisance this omnivore has fought through all odds and persevered to survive. It seems when attacked and dealt with as a varmint, at least one survivor will slip away in the night with the knowledge of not making the same mistake again. Today there are more Coyotes than ever before in North America. Though man constantly expands his communities, much of former ranch lands have turned into regional parks. While some ranchers have shot and poisoned the Coyote, the regional parks have given them a safe haven, and an opportunity for survival. Surviving is what the coyote does well…