Friday, March 14, 2014

Ben, Coyotes and a Cougar

How was Ben going to deal with the coyotes?  I wasn’t really worried.  He is an extremely competent dog, but his relationship with them seems to be developing differently than expected.  Two coyotes have shown a lot of interest in him and he in them.  When he sees them he chases after them, but I’m not sure what he is thinking when he does that.  His hackles never go up and he seems more curious than predatory.  I don’t think these coyotes are very predatory either.   I finally managed to catch a photo of one of them on the hike yesterday – not a very good one but you can see it at in the “March 2014” gallery in the “River Photography” folder.  I’ve noted the beginning of each hike.  The 3-9-14 hike begins with a lot of photos of the morning sky.  We got there before the sun was up over the mountain; so it was still pretty dark, even in the sky; so the photo of the coyote is fairly dark also.

Is Ben trying to make friends with these coyotes?  Unlikely but I can’t rule that out because Ginger tried it a few years ago and got bitten on the rump instead, but that was by a female that had pups on the ground.  The two coyotes Ben is messing around with may be young males. 

When Ben chases after the coyotes, Duffy chases after him, but I call him back.  I’m carrying a Walther 22 nowadays, just in case things turn ugly, but I’m not expecting them to.  My local coyotes have seen me and my dogs all their lives.  When the coyotes were young, they showed a bit of interest in us.  That was true of my Ridgebacks also, when they were young.  If a female has pups on the ground, she will howl when we are near and sometimes follow us to make sure we keep on going, but perhaps it’s her mate that is doing that.  I don’t know for sure. 

The local coyotes have never concerned me very much.  I take precautions and when my opinion is invited (as Sage and Duffy invited it) I tell them “leave them alone.”  Ben though hasn’t invited my opinion much so far.  He runs into the brush and is gone for a three or four minutes.  When I knew he was going in there after coyotes I expected to hear some snarling and barking, but I heard nothing; which is fine, but then he returned without his hackles up. 

I became a little more concerned about his safety when I read about a Cougar that killed a 100-pound German Shepherd a few towns east of me.  Apparently some policemen fired some guns in order to scare it off and it didn’t scare worth a darn.  When the animal control people decided to go after it, they couldn’t find it.   There are continuous mountains from Fontana to the area where we hike so a Cougar could travel the 42 mile distance if he had a mind to.  That is beyond the typical range of a Cougar, but if he were fairly young without an established territory perhaps he might decide it prudent to move out of Fontana.  I think we’re okay but I am considering taking a heavier gun than my Walther 22 on our hikes – just thinking about it at this point.  Since I’m leaning toward lighter-weight cameras nowadays, a heavier gun seems counter-productive.  I wonder what my coyotes would think about a Cougar moving into their territory.

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