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Cats Coyotes and Coons

My cat Spike had become uncommonly skittish when he was in his bed in the garage. He has two beds, one in the house and one in the garage. Even if I was outside with him he would nervously keep watch on his surroundings as if expecting something to jump from behind a tree and grab him. If he wanted to go into the garage from the house, he would nervously watch the garage door for any movement from the night. He even had me opening the door and looking outside to see if anything was going on. Spike seemed to be watching for any sign of the raccoons that had camped out in our garage during the summer.

When we had chased off all the raccoons except one, we breathed easier, but then Spike almost lost his leg due to a scuffle with the largest raccoon. Spike had gotten between the raccoon and some leftover food in the cat's dish, leaving the cat with a badly mangled left rear foot. About the same time, the neighbor's two large dogs that were kept in a pen in their back yard began to go nuts each night about two in the morning. They would howl, bark, and lunge at the fence! You could hear the dog's bodies hitting the chain link fence all the way too my house, two doors away! At this point we still didn't know what was causing the commotion each night. A few weeks went by and now Spike was spending most of his night time in the house, while the dogs continued to bark each evening after dark.

Only after we spotted the coyote crossing the road to trot in our direction did we know what was causing the disturbance. That's when we named the Coyote, Ruckus! In the few minutes I saw him, Ruckus seemed to be as laid back as my cat Spike. As I passed him on the side of the road, his yellow eyes flashing in my headlights, he lay down and rested his head on his paws. Noticing in my rear view mirror that he hadn't fled the scene, I put the car in reverse and backed up to where I was parallel to him.

He appeared to be half tamed. After a couple minutes he must have gotten nervous, because he abruptly jumped up and ran across the field. That was the last that I have seen of Ruckus, but I hear his presence at night. Now that I had identified the prowler as a coyote, when the dogs started barking in the wee hours of the morning, I listened closely and sure enough I heard the yipping sound of the coyote. It made me think of the old west where coyotes howled at night and cowboys sang their songs to comfort the herds of cattle they were driving to market.

It doesn't take much for me to hear the romantic side of a coyote howl! Spike didn't see anything at all romantic about the situation. Coyotes eat cats for dinner! Now we knew why the raccoons had left so abruptly. Coyotes are a natural predator of the raccoon. A little coyote urine splashed on a tree or even on the ground, can send even the bravest raccoon headed for the hills. Evidently my raccoons lacked the courage to defend the territory they had staked out at my garage.

Spike didn't have to share his food with the raccoons. I once thought that coyotes could be found only in the western states, but they're everywhere now. All across the nation as cities and populations expand, coyotes are found. I live in suburban area where there are a lot of houses, but also some open fields that are the natural habitat of the coyote.

Coyotes have a body like a dog, grey with a brownish tint to ears and legs and they will eat practically anything they happen across. They're carnivores, eating rabbits, squirrels and raccoons as well as fish, birds, bugs and even plants. They will also eat pets, such as yellow cats who wander across a coyote in the backyard. There's not much that they won't eat, thus becoming a nuisance for homeowners living close to open fields and woods. Coyotes prefer open spaces, but they have learned to live in North Alabama's thousands of acres of wooded areas as well.

A coyote's life is not an easy one whether it lives in Alabama or Wisconsin. Yes, there are coyotes all over the place in Wisconsin and Minnesota. You'd think that they would have stayed home in Texas or Arizona, but now they can be a problem everywhere in the United States.

I'm excluding Hawaii because I'm not sure they were able to swim the Pacific Ocean to get to that state. Less than half of all coyotes at birth make it to adult hood. Larger predators take their toll as well as hunters and trappers. Automobiles account for a large number of coyote deaths also. These statistics didn't seem to comfort my cat Spike.

After a couple of weeks he began to venture outside at night and a few nights later he stayed out the entire night. He showed up the next morning hungry and tired, so I guess have seen the last of the coyote. The raccoon seems to be gone also. I'm glad to be rid of them, but a small part of me misses them; a very small part.

Bob Alexander is well experienced in outdoor cooking, holiday eating and leisure living. Bob is also the author and owner of this article. Visit his sites at: http://www.bluemarlinbob.com http://www.pompanobob.com



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