Sunday, February 19, 2012

Coyote Check-Up

It's been a weird winter along the Chocolay River. We've had the bitter, cold days characteristic of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, but those have been few and far-between. Snow has been lacking – so much, in fact, that the UP 200 had to be re-routed for the first time in its 22-year history. The past several weeks have been warmer than Februaries tend to be around here, and the animals seem to be taking full advantage of it. More specifically, raccoons are becoming active again, searching for mates and food – and our backyard has become a destination.

Yesterday, we received a very small dusting of snow, but it was enough to reveal the tracks of a handful of raccoons. Their footprints weaved around trees, beneath the birdfeeders, and finally in the direction of our compost pile – and our resident Coyote. I was a bit shocked to discover that not only had the raccoons removed the brush that had been concealing the body, they had also attempted to drag it away! Of course, the coyote was tied to the base of a tree, so the raccoons didn't make too much progress – but they did chew through one of the cords holding the body in place.

Colder temperatures have mummified the coyote's face, but warm and rainy spring weather will likely change this.

 The coyote's ribs. At least one is broken, likely when she was hit on the road. Frost clings to bone, flesh, and plant matter.

I do find it amazing that it has taken this long for scavenging animals to notice the coyote. The neighborhood fox(es) won't touch it, but raccoons seem to be a little less picky. Judging by the state of the coyote this morning, the raccoons preferred its ribs and intestines. This evening, I'm sure they will be back for more.

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