picture of coyote scat

A Coyote In The Neighborhood?

I’m not a wildlife expert by any means, although I do pride myself on being able to recognize a rabbit track from a squirrel, a partridge from a crow and dog poop from coyote poop…..uh huh…in fact, I own a book devoted to teaching the reader how to recognize the various forms of wildlife “scat” as animal droppings are frequently described.

That, coupled with an interest in hunting, has my eyes to the ground quite frequently, keeping an eye on what is there, and taking some notice of things that catch my eye, like the other day when I was walking our little cottage lane.

I typically have an eye out for wildlife, or signs of wildlife around the camp, and I am usually quite fascinated when I see anything, so it didn’t surprise my darling camp partner Wendy, when I came into the camp, shoved my digital camera under her nose, and said,

“Look at this!!”

“Get that out of my face.” Was the first thing she said, shoving my hand away, “What is it?” she finally asked, sensing my disappointment in her failure to share my exhuberance over my digital camera.

I pointed to the camera screen, “It’s coyote crap!” I said, “I found it just up the lane by the neighbor’s.”

“Uh-huh” she said, straining her eyes to look at the pic on the tiny camera screen. “You didn’t bring any of it home did ya?” she asked, raising that damn eyebrow of hers the way she always does…..”Please say you didn’t.”

“I didn’t.” I replied, “Didn’t have anything to carry it in, and it wasn’t frozen enough to be solid to pick up.”

Both eyebrows went up when I said that, and I think she breathed a sigh of disappointment, or perhaps it was relief. You seldom read about people “breathing sighs of disappointment…..”

“There must be one in the area.” I said, “Which doesn’t surprise me, given that we are in the woods, still, it is cool to see it in our driveway.”

“I don’t call it cool.” Wendy said, “I call it scary.”

“Ahhhh don’t worrry.” I said, realizing that if she becomes frightened that there might be a coyote around she won’t want to go outside. That means chores like hauling water and chopping kindling would fall on my shoulders. “I bet he is miles and  miles away from here by now, there is nothing here for them to eat, we haven’t had a rabbit around here since 1985. I’m sure he was just passing through.”

“How do you know it’s not dog poop? she asked, “It looks like dog poop to me.”

“There’s hair in it, probably snowshoe hare….ummmm hair.” I replied, noting her eyebrows actually kinda twitching now.

“I thought you said that there weren’t any rabbits around here since 1985.” she countered, in that way that women usually do, reminding you of what you just told them.

I stammered a second before saying, “There isn’t, those are snowshoe hare…um hairs….see.” I said, pointing to the tiny hairs embedded in the droppings in the picture. “Not rabbit……besides, that was probably the last one….the last snowshoe hare around here. Too bad the coyote got him before he left.”

“Can you move over a bit.” Wendy said, waving the television remote in her hand, “I am watching my show.

I moved out of the way so she could see Coronation Street, which I know is not….her show. Aren’t you going out to split some kindling? I got your little chair out and I got an empty box out by the woodpile with your hatchet….”

She smiled at me, that winning smile that makes me do stuff. “Will you do it please? I am watching my show, besides, I am not crazy about sitting outside if there is a pack of coyotes in the area.”

“I didn’t say a pack of coyotes.” I countered, “Just one”

“That’s one too many for my liking. While you are at it, please fill up the water buckets too.”

Somethings are better kept to myself……

Here is the picture I took of the mystery “scat” from the driveway, I am sure it’s coyote, but I am open to suggestions? Maybe a raccoon? Looked a little big for a raccoon to me, and although it is difficult to see in the pics, it was full of white hairs, leading me to conclude whatever it was had eaten something white.

picture of coyote scat
The scat was covered in snow, which had frozen to it overnight.

The book I mentioned above is called, The Encyclopedia of Tracks and Scats: A Comprehensive Guide to the Trackable Animals of the United States and Canada
It’s about $20 bucks from Amazon.

Coyote at the Kitchen Door: Living with Wildlife in Suburbia
Had a coyote sighting in your neighborhood? Email me and I’ll add it to the list. thecottagechronicles@hotmail.ca

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6 thoughts on “A Coyote In The Neighborhood?”

  1. Looks like coyote to me. We occasionally find the same kind of scat on our cottage lane.

  2. Having read many of the articles here for the past few years, it strikes me that my cottage experiences here in central Canada are not unlike yours on the east coast. The word “cottage” is not seen as pretentious here though…I am not sure if folks here around Hog Town (Toronto) would know what a “camp” is…

    We’ve owned our cottage about 5 years now, and although small (only about 1,200 sq. feet), it is on a beautiful lot with a really pristine lake. It’s not winterized but I love it. Loads of wildlife here too – moose, deer, black bear, beavers, wolves, and coyote too.
    I am envious you are now retired! I think we’re the same age (about 52), and although I could retire (I think), I don’t think I yet have the courage. Maybe offer some pointers on that in your next blog!

    All the best for 2011.


  3. Thank’s Chris, I’m sure you are right on, there isn’t much difference between a “cottage” in central Canada and a “camp” on the East Coast, but those of us around here do tend to think of saying ‘cottage’ as being a little pretentious. I actually considered that when I was coming up for a name for the blog. However, The Camp Chronicles made me think more of camping in the tenting sense of the word, so I went with cottage. That, and I had a sense from reading magazines like Cottage Life, that many folks outside of the east coast wouldn’t be as interested in a blog about a camp. In my family, we have never referred to our place as ‘the cottage’ we always called it ‘the camp’ as in ‘going to the camp this weekend’ Haha now that you mention it, the only time I refer to it as the cottage is when I am writing the blog. I think I will start sticking “camp” back into it because the local folks probably do think I am being pretentious.
    I am often envious of you in the Ontario area as you are smack dab in the middle of “Cottage Country” a beautiful region, and you really know what ‘cottaging’ is all about. Not to mention the lakes and wildlife you have.
    As for retirement, thanks for the post idea. I have to tell ya, it is great, especially at our age, I am 51. It’s a bit of a financial change, but one you get used to, and in many ways, I don’t spend as much as I did working. It sure is nice not having to go home Sunday night.
    Thanks for your comments, I truly appreciate them. Feel free to keep me updated on what you are doing at your cottage and keep reading The Cottage Chronicles.
    Happy 2011, Maybe this will be your year to pack it in and retire!!

  4. I have seen a bit of coyote (sh–) poop in my travels Rob and have examined some in a lab under the guidance and direction of Canadian Wildlife Service techs , not during an official project just to see what we could find . At all times of the year there will be hair, not just rabbit (hare hair) but lots of mouse and vole hair, they eat lots of little critters, and deer hair, yes they do eat deer,berry seeds,plastic,bones, almost anything,get some exam gloves,tweezers and a knitting needle or two , a magnifying glass and go at it.Throw it in the wood stove ,when you’re finished. Not on the kitchen table please!!!!! might find some orange hair—neighbours cat is missing.

  5. Hey Lonesome Larry, Thanks for the info, it sounds like you have some real life experience in this area. So I have decided to save some of my scat findings in a mason jar and perhaps you can do the investigation for me this summer. Might make a good camp project to collect, analyze and document the scat we find. Where could we store it until we are ready to analyze it? Alleghany’s place? Might make a nice campfire after it dries.

    On a serious note, I agree with your points about what coyotes eat. I have read that coyotes are pretty indiscriminate about their diet and it can be quite astonishing to see what is actually contained in their droppings. I guess they put new meaning to the word omnivorous, especially when times get tough. I left some lobster shells for the one at the camp this week. Do you think I might be spoiling him?

  6. It’s almost a sure bet that coyotes will “drop” in the same place or very close on their travels, kind of marks their territory boundaries.Keep looking ,he will be back in a few days, sooner if the eating is good around your place.