#OnlyInSedona Critters: What to Know About the Wily Coyote
If you fall asleep with your windows open on a crisp, fall Sedona night, you might awaken to sounds straight out of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Have no fear — it’s only one of this region’s most populous critters, the wily coyote.
While you won’t see Acme boxes scattered throughout the forest, you may run into one or more of these creatures as you explore area trails. While they may appear scary, you probably have little to fear. Learn all about the wily coyote and how they play a vital role in the area’s ecosystem.
1. Coyotes Can Mate With Dogs
Have you heard of a coydog? Maybe you have one as a pet if you are a calm and firm pack leader who can work with strong-willed breeds. If the name sounds suspicious, that’s because this pup is a mix between the wild coyote and domesticated pooches.
Coyotes typically breed with roughly equivalent dogs in size — German Shepherds and heelers are frequently seen blends. Unlike domestic dogs, though, coyote bitches only come into heat between January and March. That way, when the kiddos come along roughly 60 days later, they have all summer to mature before facing winter’s harshness.
2. However, They Might Eat Your Cat
While coyotes typically stick to small prey like chipmunks, they occasionally make a meal of a kitty, domestic or feral. Therefore, if you have a feline friend, it’s best to keep them inside, at least at night.
If you take care of ferals — the storied Poe and I thank you — be aware that coyotes find cat food delicious, too. Make sure that you provide escape hatches if you build a winter shelter for your colony. You might also consider erecting cat poles consisting of straight stakes of wood eight to ten feet tall. Cats can climb them, but Wile E. cannot.
3. They Play a Vital Role in the Ecosystem
Unlike wolves, wild coyotes only weigh 18 to 30 pounds when fully grown. However, as hunters, they play a vital role in controlling other animal populations.
Coyotes control the numbers of smaller predators like skunks. If you don’t want your yard overrun by M. Pepe Le Pew, you can thank these dog-like critters for keeping him in check.
4. Coyotes Got Mad Hops
Please don’t get complacent with your kitties and chihuahuas if you have a concrete block fence surrounding your property. Coyotes look at a 6-foot fence the way Shaq eyes a basketball hoop before a layup shot — as no big deal.
If you hope to keep these fellas at bay, you need at least eight feet — impeding your red rock view. You can, however, buy coyote rollers that keep them from sticking a landing on top. If you don’t like stray kitties napping in your cat mint, these devices also keep them away.
5. These Children of the Night Make Interesting Music
I find it enchanting to wake up at 1:00 a.m. to the sound of howls, but then, I’ve always been a bit of an odd duck. However, a pack of coyotes can wake even sound sleepers.
Unlike melancholy wolf howls, these fellows sound more like a gang of hyenas. Their yips sound like laughter, and they have an astonishing vocal range. The sound can carry a considerable distance.
6. But They’re Genuine Romantics at Heart
Recently, scientists from Ohio State University performed a 10-year observation of coyotes complete with genetic blood testing. They found zero evidence of philandering, confirming the theory that these creatures mate for life.
Coyote dads aren’t deadbeats, either. Bitches typically raise large litters because of the high mortality rate in the first year. Papa Ki-yote plays an equal role in raising the pups to adulthood.
7. You Won’t Often See Them in Daylight
Coyotes live nearly everywhere in America, from the eastern Pennsylvania forests to the wild, wild west. Researchers discovered that packs have infiltrated many cities and towns, and they sometimes make homes in storm drains or underneath Cheryl’s she-shed.
However, unless said structure gets struck by lightning, like in the State Farm commercial, you probably won’t find their dens. These critters are wily indeed, and since they typically come out at night, it’s not likely you’ll see them come home unless you rise before the chickens.
8. When You Do, Please Admire Them From Afar
That said, I’ve seen my fair share of coyotes on early-morning runs and hikes. I’ve never had anything but pleasant encounters.
Like any wild animal, coyotes can be unpredictable — please don’t approach them if you see one. Try not to flee in fear, either. I tend to stick to a wait-for-them-to-pass-by approach. While they rarely attack humans, they far more frequently want to chase that pesky chicken that keeps crossing the road, not you.
Get to Know All About the Wily Coyote — a Frequently Seen #OnlyInSedona Critter
Now that you know all about the wily coyote, why not plan a trip so that you can capture one of these majestic critters on camera? If nothing else, they may regale you with a chorus of night music.