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Guy's Blog a.k.a Stories of the Day

Doggone

Doggone
Guy Galante Date : Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Many people have been asking me about the dead coyote that was found along the American River in Carmichael, so I am posting this blog. On November 13th, a friend of mine called me to tell me he had found a coyote carcass. This was concerning to us both because multiple neighborhood associations from Ancil Hoffman area to Wilhaggin near Watt Ave. had been reporting higher than usual numbers of coyotes seen in their respective neighborhoods. There were even reports of coyotes in the neighborhoods further inland- off Hurley Way near Morse, and off of Walnut Avenue near El Camino. Our concerns were that coyotes would be deliberately or inadvertently harmed. People might react aggressively, or coyote could find rat poison or traps used at homes in these areas.

 

I hypothesize that higher numbers of coyotes have been wandering into neighborhoods for a coupe of reasons. 1) There were a lot of pups born this year- at least 3 new pups at Ancil Hoffman, 5 at William B. Pond Park, and 3 near Estates Avenue. This is a lot of mouths to feed! I suspect that food IN the Parkway became scarce. Pet food, water, fruit trees and rodents are abundant in neighborhoods, so coyote took to the streets. 2) By fall, coyote pups are urged to strike out on their own by their parents. The young and desperate coyotes have to establish their own territories, and some probably found some easy food sources in the neighborhoods. Some people said their neighbors keep cat food on their porch, and unfortunately, some people were purposely hand-feeding the coyotes. 

 

My friend led me to the location where the coyote had died. I studied the animal for over an hour to see if I could identify it, and to determine a cause of death. 1 of 5 coyote pups do not survive their first year, so it isn't TOO shocking to find a dead young coyote. But we were rather suspicious. I studied the area like a CSI. It looked as though there had been a scuffle, but there were no visible signs of trauma. But then I noticed the coyote started bleeding from its nose. This was indicative of internal bleeding, often times caused by rat poison...

 

I was pretty upset and grieved the loss of a coyote I had photographed once when it was alive. I wasn't sure what to do, and there was no way to tell if the coyote was poisoned on purpose or not. As with other animals and birds, they may ingest prey that consumed poison, and in turn, they too die of secondary poisoning.  So, I contacted County Parks and cc'd Project Coyote. Ultimately, Project Coyote was quick to respond and they suggested I call CA Fish & Wildlife Services (CAFWS). I did, and two days later, CAFWS retrieved the carcass and took it for testing. It was determined that the coyote died of bromethalin intoxication. Bromethalin is an over-the-counter rodenticide. CAFWS stated that the coyote ingested it directly, meaning, it was not secondary poisoning.

 

A few days later, another friend started finding piles of dog food left near the area where the carcass was found. A sample was collected and it too was sent to CAFWS for testing. The results are not back yet...But this all raises two key issues: 1) it is illegal per the American River Parkway Plan to feed wildlife. 2) While rats and mice are pervasive pests, rodenticides are nasty chemicals that effect far more than these rodents. Owls, hawks, kites, coyotes, and other predators can all be harmed through secondary poisoning.

 

Project Coyote has some terrific free resources to raise awareness about coexisting with coyotes. What is really awesome is they made them so that parks departments can brand the handouts with their own company name and logo. I have reached out to Sacramento County Parks in hopes that we can use and distribute these materials to residents that live adjacent to the Parkway. No word yet from parks administration...Perhaps the handouts will be branded by Roots of Connection? I think it is better to have it come from County Parks. Either way, the time to act is now.

 

In the meantime, I would like to offer some suggestions. 1) If coyotes are seen in your neighborhood, scare them off! Yell at them and chase them away. Keep them wild. 2) Do not feed coyotes! Look after your own pets and pet food, and clean up fallen fruit or tree nuts. Be mindful of your garden produce and consider covering your compost piles if you compost food waste. 3) Educate yourself and others about coyotes and the role they play in the ecosystem. Understand that they do not know Parkway boundaries the same way we understand them. If your friend or neighbor is angry and wants to kill the coyotes, see if you can persuade them to an alternative action. 4) Stop using rodenticide! Electronic traps work great.

 

Roots of Connection will continue to track on this issue and will work with Project Coyote (and hopefully County Parks) to raise awareness in and around the 23-mile, 5000 acre American River Parkway!

 

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