Rescuing Coyotes

Meet Mr. Yote, a coyote rescued at Washington’s West Sound Wildlife Shelter, where I love to volunteer:

On the left, you can see him as a pup just after he’d been found, desperate and alone on the side of a road.  His sad face beside his teddy bear tells you how scared he was and how much he must have missed his mother.  But on the right, about six months later, Mr. Yote has become a sleek and handsome fellow, testimony to the Shelter staff’s care. You’d never know from looking at him that he has severe eye problems, discovered when he could only find his food by sniffing to the bowl. If he were returned to the wild, he’d surely have died. So he was sent to a sanctuary, where he’s now living happily among his own kind.

Mr. Yote’s story warms my heart, and so does my recent discovery that people in Chicago have also been kind to coyotes. A couple of months ago, a young female, named Holly, was found, huddled and shivering on a block of ice in the water a quarter mile from Lake Michigan’s shore. Icicles were hanging from her fur, and she surely had just an hour to live.  But firefighters snared her by a loop on the end of a rod, pulled her into their boat, and wrapped her in a blanket.  Here she is, covered with ice and snow in a cage, before they took her to a rehabilitation center.

Another coyote wandered into a Quizno’s sandwich shop in downtown Chicago, climbed into a refrigerated case, and made himself at home among fruit juice bottles. He, too, was rescued and ushered away.

He was one of the estimated 300 to 1,000 coyotes thriving in the city, according to the Cook County, Illinois Coyote Project. So far researchers have radio-collared 250 Chicago coyotes and located them more than 40,000 times in parks, on golf courses, and around apartments and commercial buildings. The study has shown that these coyotes have a 60 percent chance of surviving for a year, but their less fortunate rural cousins’ chance is only 30 percent. Perhaps the urban coyotes live longer because they more easily find food.  To pay back their hosts for allowing them to roam Chicago, the coyotes have been graciously keeping down the rat and mouse population.

The good news is that in Chicago less poison is put out now to kill rodents — and fewer coyotes, raccoons, and raptors, who prey on those rodents, are getting poisoned, too. Though I’m sad that anyone has to be a coyote’s dinner, a quick death by teeth seems more humane than a slow one by toxin. Chicago deserves a round of applause for its decency toward coyotes, and here’s hoping that those recently spotted in downtown Phoenix, St. Louis, New York City, and Washington, D.C. will be allowed to coexist peacefully with the people around them, too.

Certainly, the West Sound Wildlife Shelter deserves congratulations for rescuing Mr. Yote, who charmed me the instant I set eyes on him. If you’d like to read more about the Shelter’s wonderful work, click here.

14 Responses to “Rescuing Coyotes”

  1. 1 Natalia ilyin March 15, 2011 at 11:21 PM

    Just tell me his first name isn’t Kai.

  2. 3 Lisa Di Nicola` February 17, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    What a wonderful post. These regal beasts get a bad rap from humankind. I am so glad to see these creatures getting the love and respect they deserve.

  3. 5 Linda Brandenburg February 17, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Living in Valdez, Alaska we had a cat taken years ago by a coyote that still breaks our hearts. We’ve had them try to lure our dogs when out walking by making sounds as if one of them is injured. The others lie in wait and attack once the dog has approached the coyote that is acting hurt. I find them to be incredibly crafty and intelligent. We know the signs so our dogs have never been hurt by a coyote. I know it’s about survival in our harsh environment. We do enjoy hearing the pack cries on early morning walks or watching them on the runway at the airport or on the duck flats. We must be responsible pet owners to live peacefully with coyotes. A very interesting post Kristin.

    • 6 Kristin February 18, 2011 at 10:28 AM

      I’m so sorry about your kitty! Terrible. That’s why so many people don’t like coyotes. I wish they didn’t have to earn a living.

  4. 7 jane February 16, 2011 at 7:48 PM

    Kristen, Thanks for sharing your story about Mr. Yote and the “urban cowboys” of Chicago.

    It reminds me of the joy I had one day at dusk on the Island I live on across from Seattle. I was walking home and almost right in front of me a coyote crossed the road and entered into the open space of a neighborhood, with his “coyote stroll.” It was such a surprise and delight!


    • 8 Kristin February 16, 2011 at 10:09 PM

      What a magical moment for you to see that coyote strolling across the road. I saw a silver fox do that one Christmas morning and felt I’d been blessed in an amazing way. Thank you for writing!

  5. 9 Elsa Watson February 16, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    Kristin, what a great post!! I just loved reading about all the different coyote stories, including our own experience at the Shelter with Mr. Yote. Coyotes are so fascinating, and I’m amazed by the way they’re able to survive in Chicago without most people even knowing they’re there. Kudos to Chicago for realizing the coyotes can keep their mouse and rat problems in check!

    • 10 Kristin February 16, 2011 at 10:08 PM

      I really like the stealth of coyotes. They have to be very smart and attentive to survive. Mr. Yote has survived because of the kindness of people. He’s in a whole different league.

  6. 11 Andrea Warren February 16, 2011 at 6:35 PM

    I still remember an incident about 15 years ago when we heard a terrible yowling in the middle of the night and looked outside to see our large orange tabby and a young coyote doing a stare down, both of them howling at each other. What a sound! They were about the same size and neither acted predatory or defensive, so we left them alone. The coyote returned for several nights and this scenario was repeated. After that the coyote didn’t reutrn and that was the end of it. They are such interesting animals!Thanks for this lovely story, Kris!


    • 12 Kristin February 16, 2011 at 10:07 PM

      Wow! Coyotes get lots of bad press because they are supposed to be dangerous for kitties. But yours certainly stood its ground. What an amazing encounter. I’m glad everybody survived!

  7. 13 Kathy Renner February 16, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    Yes, the coyotes among us are quite amazing. Love your tender accounts of saving them!

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